A young woman used her cellphone to covertly record her sexual attacker before she escaped from his car.
Wael Mazahrih, 24, was sentenced to 26 months in prison when he appeared in the Hamilton District Court on Wednesday on charges of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection and indecent assault.
The police summary of evidence reveals the victim, who had been drinking, was waiting for a taxi on the corner of Grey and Dawson streets at 1.15am on Sunday, January 10, when Mazahrih pulled up in his car and offered her a ride.
Believing she was hopping into a taxi, the woman got in. Although she quickly realised her mistake, Mazahrih offered to take her home anyway. Following a brief detour through the drive-through at the McDonald’s in Rototuna, he took her to Horsham Downs Road, on the outskirts of Hamilton.
On the journey, and despite her protestations, he began rubbing her inner thigh with his hand and after he pulled over, he leaned across and rested his head on her shoulder.
She got out of the car, but then realised she had no idea where she was.
Mazahrih also got out and grabbed the woman around her waist, forcing her back into the car, where he lifted up her skirt and sexually assaulted her. (more…)
A poster with photos and details of four rapists with the heading “Beware Mohammed” has been plastered on a transformer at a busy Hamilton intersection.
The poster is not illegal, because the details are factually correct.
However, Canterbury University dean of law Ursula Cheer said there may be grounds to lay a complaint to the Human Rights Commission on the possibility of inciting hate speech.
The headline would also incite racial issues for innocent Muslims living in the area, International Muslim Association of New Zealand president Tahir Nawaz said.
“Whoever created the poster is judging all Muslims, all those who follow the Prophet Muhammad, for the actions of four men. That’s not fair and not very good.”
The poster, which is glued to a transformer near the corner of Alexandra and Collingwood streets in the CBD shows the pictures of convicted men Abdirahim Sheik Mohamed Guled (Mohamed Guled), Keyse Aiwi Abdi, Mohamed Essa and Mohammed Sahib.
All but Essa were working for taxi companies at the time of the offending. Essa posed as a taxi driver.
Cheer said that the case would be difficult to argue in any court.
“If it’s factually correct and the convictions were quite recent, I think that there probably won’t be a defamation issue and there probably won’t be a privacy issue,” Cheer said.
“Saying beware of Mohammed at the top could arguably be a form of hate speech. It could be argued that it is having a go at Muslims generally. There’s legislation under the Human Rights Act that is aimed at hate speech. It’s very hard to succeed with a complaint under that, though.
“You have to go to the Race Relations commissioner at the Human Rights Commission and make a complaint and the threshold is very high. You have to show a deliberate intention to degrade a group of people.”
“Everyone would assume that a conviction is a public document and that therefore means it’s information that is already out there and you can publish it as long as you’re accurate. I would agree with that, too.
Cheer said the poster could also be seen as racist.
“That’s the other possibility, if it is seen as a possibly racist poster. If the four men are in jail, then what is the point of the poster?
“The main risks are: defamation first, if the facts are wrong; possibly privacy, but it doesn’t seem likely in those circumstances; and possibly hate speech, but it’s quite hard, as I say, to cross the threshold there.
Nawaz said it would be difficult to lay a complaint to the Human Rights Commission because the author of the poster is unknown.
“Those that have done the crime have been judged by the justice system. Why are they targeting others? This will disrupt the community.”
Police were not aware of the poster, but once told said they will not investigate it.
A leading Muslim cleric and scholar who made headlines by claiming that gender equality is against Islam and women are only fit to deliver children is now hoping to spread his influence in the West with the construction of a new mosque in New Zealand.
Kanthapuram AP Aboobacker Musliar, leader of the traditionalist Sunni Muslim community in the southern Indian state of Kerala, visited New Zealand in January of this year in hopes of strengthening his base of followers in the city of Hamilton by building what he called “a beacon of Islam” in the area.
At a conference of the Muslim Students Federation (MSF) toward the end of last year, Kanthapuram, who frequently calls upon men to “lord over their women,” was attacked for his misogynistic statements.
“Gender equality is not Islamic, wise, or humane,” Kanthapuram said. “It [gender equality] is not going to happen. Women can only deliver babies. This world is controlled by men. Women can’t withstand a major crisis and they even lack courage to perform major surgeries including open heart procedures.”
The 76-year-old Islamic scholar also spoke out against reserving seats for women in elections. He remarked that the 50% of seats reserved for women in civic polls was “too high.”
Kanthapuram claimed that allowing women and men to study together in colleges was “part of a calculated move to destroy Islam and culture.”
“The obstinacy that boys and girls should study sitting on the same bench is an indirect attack aimed at destroying Islam and its culture,” Kanthapuram said.
Kanthapuram also rejected allegations of sexual abuse in Kerala’s madrassas (Islamic religious schools). “Those who raise the allegation should bring evidence for it,” he said.
Kanthapuram later issued a statement claiming that his words had been distorted. “Islam is a religion that respects the role of women. There are women who deliver services like angels in education, health care, and the running of families. But unlike men, women have certain limitations. She needs to be given special protection and consideration. Giving birth and raising kids are the special blessings given by nature to woman. I have only touched on this greatness of womanhood in my speech. But it has been distorted,” he said.
Kanthapuram has come under fire for his treatment of female journalists, barring their attendance at events and refusing to be interviewed by them. One journalist said his followers cursed at her and told her that Kanthapuram believed “girls to be haram [forbidden].”
Kerala has attracted attention for an increase in Sunni religious extremism. A journalist from Kerala recently went to Syria to join the Islamic State and some Muslim youths from the southern Indian state were deported from the UAE back to India because of their pro-IS connections.
Hamilton risks social unrest similar to that seen in France if it ignores the plight of its refugees, city leaders warn.
The social agencies at the forefront of helping refugees cope say many live in cold, damp houses and struggle to access basic services. Since 2005, more than 600 refugees have shifted to Hamilton in search of a new life and agencies are urging city leaders to do more to help. At least one city councillor backs that call in the wake of events in Europe.
Councillor Dave Macpherson, speaking at the council’s community forum subcommittee meeting, said Hamilton can’t afford to have its migrant and refugee communities disconnected from mainstream society and living in substandard housing.
Hamilton could learn valuable lessons from what has happened in Europe, he said.
“You only have to envisage a few more years of something like this and you’re in a situation like they’re having in France, ” Macpherson said.
France and Belgium’s migrant communities have come under increasing scrutiny following a series of jihadist attacks across Paris last month.
Anjum Rahman, strategic manger of Shama - Hamilton Ethnic Women’s Centre Trust, said refugees are frequently referred to the trust for assistance.
However, refugees’ needs are complex and there is a lack of central government funding to provide long-term support.
“An emerging big issue is around accessing interpreters and translators. Also, our social workers do not have the specialist skills to deal with children who have experienced sexual violence,” Rahman said.
Language difficulties mean refugees struggle to use public transport, isolating them. They also lack confidence when dealing with government agencies.
Then there is the urgent need to get refugee families into warm, dry homes.
“Because they have a home, Housing New Zealand will tell refugees it can’t assist them because its focus is on people who don’t have homes,” Rahman said.
“Housing should be a joint responsibility of local and central government because it’s about the welfare of the city. Good housing reaps so many benefits in terms of health, education and crime. All these issues can be solved by just having a warm, safe house.”
Dr Priya Kurian, Shama’s board chairwoman, said Hamilton must be active in preventing such isolation, as seen overseas.
“These are the kind of issues which seem easy to ignore, but that is what has happened in France. It’s a real phenomenon of ghettoisation and a lack of social integration,” Kurian said.
Deanne McManus-Emery, council’s community development and leisure manager, said she would seek talks with Housing NZ about the refugee community’s concerns.
Multicultural New Zealand executive director Tayo Agunlejika said Hamilton is an increasingly diverse society.
It is vital all residents are given the chance to integrate into wider society, but feel safe and confident to practise and share their culture.
Reflecting on the unrest in France, Agunlejika said people need to feel as if they belong in their community.
It isn’t in New Zealand’s interest to have isolated communities, such as a Chinatown, within a city, he said.
Rahman said if the issues facing refugees aren’t adequately addressed, then the problems will be exacerbated in coming years.
“I think the issues generally arise with the children, because the parents already feel like they’re a foreigner in another country and they’re dealing with that,” she said.
“But for the kids who are born and grow up here and to be made to feel like this isn’t your country or you don’t belong here … it’s a huge displacement.
“If you don’t look after the parents and don’t deal with all that at that level, you’re setting yourself up for that next generation to really feel disfranchised and marginalised and just upset because they don’t have the same opportunities and they can’t fit in.”
Anjum Rahman, strategic manager of Shama - Hamilton Ethnic Women’s Centre Trust, said there are practical things people can do to make refugees feel welcome.
Celebrate their culture. “Enjoy the diversity they bring, the various cultures, the food. Enjoy having them here and let them enjoy having you.”
Hamilton at a glance
* About 30,000 people, or almost a quarter of Hamilton’s population, identify with a culture or ethnicity that is not Maori or New Zealand European.
* There is a higher proportion of migrants in Hamilton who have arrived in the past four years compared to the national average.
* More than 600 refugees, from 12 countries, have moved to Hamilton in the past 10 years. Since 2013, a large majority of refugees have come from Colombia, Myanmar and Afghanistan.
* Twenty-five per cent of those who identify as coming from an ethnic community say their home is too cold or difficult to heat. Twenty-one per cent describe their home as damp.
* When asked if their household income is enough to meet their everyday needs, 62 per cent of ethnic respondents said it was “just enough” or “not enough”.
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