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Fostering understanding: Maz Islamic Education Centre founder and director Maznah Abu Hassan and husband Philippe Saint-Pere

By MATTHEW MCKEW

Queenstown’s Maz Islamic Education Centre will throw open its doors tomorrow to provide an opportunity for the public to learn about Muslim religion and culture.

Set in rooms on Level 2 of the Sofitel hotel, the education centre provides a central place to worship for Muslims living and working in or visiting the town.

It’s also a place to learn more about the five pillars of Islam, either to enhance faith or simply understand an unfamiliar religion.

The centre is run by the Lakes District Muslim Community, and trustee Philippe Saint-Pere says the official opening has been delayed since March, when they first signed the lease, because of Covid-19.

‘‘We started properly in August/September and now that there are no restrictions whatsoever we thought it would be a good time to hold an open day because there has been no official opening yet.’’

They had been delaying in the hope of having the borders open.

‘‘We are trying to provide a community service, not just for Muslims but to invite non-Muslims in to understand what we do and combat misconceptions about Islam.’’

A number of community figures are invited, including Queenstown mayor Jim Boult, who will speak.

Saint-Pere says events like this are important to stopping racist attacks like that aimed at the mosque on Gorge Road prior to Christmas.

The open day starts at 2.30 and there are speeches, exploration of the Quran, refreshments and a demonstration of the adhan — call for prayers.

Finally, there’ll be an opportunity for open questions from the floor.

matthew.mckew@scene.co.nz