Muslims offer to meet 'ignorant' accuser

HEATHER SIMPSON
Last updated 08:55 29/07/2014

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A Marlborough Muslim says a racist rant posted on a community Facebook page shows a lack of education from a sad individual.

Marlborough Association of Muslims member Nadeem Akhtar has offered to meet stood-down Gigatown Blenheim administrator Peter Chapman to change his perception of Islamic people.

Akhtar said the comments, which poked fun at Muslim culture and claimed people in all Muslim countries were unhappy, were ignorant.

Gigatown team member Chapman posted the message on the group's Facebook page last Tuesday but it was deleted following criticism.

However, further racist comments have appeared on the page since, with one woman urging more taunts and accusing them of "sneaking into society".

Another man said Muslims hated everyone that was not Muslim.

Akhtar said 20 Muslim families lived permanently in Blenheim.

"Islam is a peaceful religion. We promote peace and we help each other," he said.

"I respect other people's point of view. The people that have a certain view of Islamic countries have never visited them. People's perception is very one-sided. It is ignorance and shows a lack of education."

Akhtar said Chapman was welcome to meet the Marlborough Association of Muslims. "For the most part people in New Zealand are respectful. One person doesn't make New Zealand bad."

On Friday a member of the Gigatown team posted on the page Chapman's position on the administration team should be decided by the public.

However, Gigatown Blenheim confirmed yesterday Chapman had been removed as an administrator for the Gigatown campaign.

Gigatown team member Debbie Carter said she was appalled by the racist post.

Chapman could still post on the Facebook page under his own name.

Chapman said he posted the comments as "a bit of a joke" to "engender community spirit" and encourage people to repost the #gigatownbln.

He apologised for any offence caused.

Marlborough Migrant Centre manager Margaret Western said the post was not funny.

"There is nothing humorous about racist jokes. Racist comments are always offensive. The offensive remarks posted I don't believe reflect the views and values of most Marlburians. I condemn them unequivocally.

"I don't believe they do anything to engender community spirit. It is very regretful comments such as this have gone on to a community social media site."

More than 2000 people are members of the Gigatown Blenheim Facebook site which campaigns to bring faster broadband to Blenheim.

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Under the Gigatown Blenheim heading, Chapman begins by joking he might "risk international uproar" but thought "open-minded" people might have a "wee giggle" at his post.

- The Marlborough Express

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