Group of Muslims tour New Zealand on mission to break down barriers and emphasise peace

A group of Muslims is touring New Zealand on a mission to educate people.  

Starting in the South Island, their goal is to break down barriers, correct stereotypes and emphasise peace. 

They're breaking the ice with a cup of chai tea and opening the invitation to ask absolutely anything. 

"What football team we support, just general everyday life as well, a lot of the questions are based on faith our religion concepts like jihad," said Wellington-based Imam Mustenser Qamar, who is a religious leader and member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.

Imam Asif Munir said there have also been these types of questions: "Why is Islam so violent why do you kill the disbelievers?" 

Their goal is to "change the narrative around islam", by using a nationwide roadshow - starting in the South Island including Timaru, Invercargill and even Gloriavale. 

The tour is part of a wider campaign, partly fuelled by previous experiences - including Munir's conversation with a new neighbour when he first moved to New Zealand. 

"He said, 'Oh, you're Muslims' because my wife was wearing a hijab and I said, 'Yes' and the third question he asked was, 'Oh, do you carry any guns?'" 

And more recently, while on tour, someone yelled "you f**king terrorist" from a car.  

It's the first roadshow back after COVID-19 and aligned closely with the anniversary of the March 15 terror attacks. 

The group is equipped with a whiteboard, educational brochures and scripture.  

Munir said it's not about recruiting or converting people.  

"Yes, if people are interested in Islam, we can talk about it behind closed doors at mosques and stuff but we are just here to educate." 

Christchurch marks the final South Island stop as the group prepares to head north. 

"I think this education is good, it's important for people to be open minded," a Christchurch resident said.