A Māori Muslim doctor's fight against racism

By James Perry, Tamati Tiananga

Dr. Ebrahim Suleiman of Tūhoe carries his Muslim grandfather's name.  He says it is time Māori reflect on our own racism and attitudes toward minorities.  It is something he experienced himself when he won the Korimako section of the Ngā Manu Kōrero more than a decade ago.

Suleiman has experienced judgement because of his looks and name, notably when he won the Korimako section at the Manu Kōrero competitions in 2007.

"It is a cliche, because of what it stands for about not judging a book by its cover...even getting past the cover stage is quite hard because we should just not judge the book."

"Instead of being congratulated by the MC on winning a prestigious award, instead my name and look was associated to terrorism, being a terrorist because of my name and how I looked despite my kōrero on 'being Māori is ingrained".

The Rotorua doctor believes it's time Māori begin to think about looking after the smaller minorities in the Bay of Plenty.

Suleiman is grateful of the care and assistance the iwi in Christchurch are showing towards the families and victims of the massacre on Friday.  It brings back memories of when his grandfather passed away.

"His wish was to be buried in a traditional Muslim way.  With our whānau being strongly affiliated with Ngāi Tuhoe we needed help and assistance from the Muslim community to help us fulfill his wish.  So we went about that by getting Muslin whānau input and handing the precedings in terms of tikanga and kawa."

Dr Suleiman says if he could go down and help he'd board a plane and fly down tomorrow.