Malaysian students in New Zealand shocked, emotionally shaken by Christchurch terror attacks

PETALING JAYA: Malaysian students are in shock following the Friday (March 15) terror attacks on two mosques in Christchurch.

A Malaysian, 22, studying at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, said the tragedy had really shaken him.

Wanting to remain anonymous, he said the Malaysian Embassy has advised the Canterbury Malaysian Students Association not to speak to the media.

Malaysian student Nathirah Saiful Bahri said she and her friends were shaken by the news.

The Victoria University of Wellington international relations and political science student has always felt safe in New Zealand.

“I never imagined that something like that could happen. I’ve been to the Al Noor Mosque so it's very personal.

“I'm worried for my Muslim friends in Christchurch because both mosques are close to the University of Canterbury and it happened during Friday prayers,” she said.

The local authorities have advised everyone to remain indoors.

“I believe that’s the best course of action following the attacks. It’s not a sign of fear but rather, an important safety precaution.

“My university has been providing great support for the international student community through a helpline and on-site support at campus,” she said.

Condemning the malicious attacks, Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik said there are two universities in Christchurch with Malaysian students - University of Canterbury and Lincoln University.

There are a total of 303 Malaysians studying in both universities.

As at 5pm Friday, no local students were involved in the shooting incidents as most were on campus.

Dr Maszlee advised students in New Zealand, especially in Christchurch, to take precautionary measures, keep updated with what’s going on, and follow instructions from the local authorities.

University of Canterbury, which is less than 5km from Al Noor Mosque, will provide additional security at its prayer room following the incident.

Vice-chancellor Cheryl de la Rey said there would be a support line for students to talk to a trained counsellor Saturday (March 16).

A University of Canterbury source said all schools in the area were on precautionary lockdown from about 2pm to 6pm Friday (New Zealand time).

He said the university was still trying to come to grips with what has happened.

“We're devastated by this tragic, horrific, unimaginable nightmare.

“Our hearts are broken and we are appalled. We want to do anything and everything we can to support the victims, their friends and families, and the entire community.

“How we move on from here is anyone’s guess,” he said.

Its director and principal Stewart Brougham said UC International College (UCIC) was in the process of verifying the whereabouts and safety of students not on campus.

Massey University has closed the Islamic prayer spaces at its campuses in Auckland and Palmerston North until further notice, it said in a statement.

The University of Otago postponed its 150th anniversary street parade, which was scheduled for Saturday.

In a joint statement, University of Otago deputy vice-chancellor (external engagement) Prof Helen Nicholson and International Director Jason Cushen said all staff and students are safe and accounted for.

“The university is working to support all our students based in Christchurch and impacted by the tragic events.

“We also continue to monitor and support those students based in Dunedin and at our other campuses as they come to terms with the events of today.”

Study International marketing manager Casey Lim said parents and students choose New Zealand because the country is among the safest in the world.

“There are more sheep there than people.

“There aren’t as many Asian students there compared to other countries so when Malaysians go there, they know they’re experiencing a new culture,” he said.


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