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Graham KellyThe murders of the staff of Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris by Muslim immigrant terrorists, plus other murders committed at the same time in January, totalling 17 victims, sent shock waves around the world.

They follow similar murders by disgruntled Muslims in the UK, Ottawa and Sydney.

These are the latest blows of an ideology that sent Salman Rushdie into hiding under a death threat, and the murders of three thousand people in the US in 2001. Mass rapes in Iraq and Syria, and more recently the thirty two children and 13 adults in a school in Pershawar, Pakistan, in December, plus the hundreds of killings in northern Nigeria that never seem to stop, are now a feature of our news broadcasts.

The ideology of a major world religion is being used by a minority of Muslims to achieve power through terror and is not supported by the vast majority of peaceful Muslims in our country and elsewhere.

One lesson for New Zealand in observing these terrorist killings, is that those who are committing them are generally not well educated and are mostly unemployed, because they find great difficulty in obtaining a job.

Therefore when refugees come into our country, from many of these same countries, we must ensure that they obtain education up to a level where they can comfortably participate in our society by giving them the skills, including English language, necessary for this to occur.

I am involved in a Computers in Homes Community Trust which also runs 10 week courses for refugees in how to use a computer, sufficient for them to have the confidence to be able to write a CV and apply for a job once they take their refurbished second hand computer home. We link them to the internet so they can make contact with their families and obtain news in their country of origin. They also receive technical support for 12 months.

The scheme is funded by the Ministry of Education and supported by Refugee Services.

Failure to equip these new citizens with these skills could have the same catastrophic results as has occurred in France and elsewhere if extreme religious intolerance takes hold in our country.

The right to free speech and pluralism in our democracy may be new to many refugees who come here, but this programme is just one small, but important way for them to be able to see that it works, so that they will feel more comfortable in our society, where we can peacefully disagree about anything from football to religion, without resorting to violence, and using religion as the excuse.

New immigrants face enormous language and employment problems in intergrating into the wider community. Arming them with the tools to overcome these must pay long term dividends for all of us.

Lessons for New Zealand

 
 
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