Strangers pray on the floor of the House


On Tuesday the speaker of New Zealand’s parliament, the right honourable Trevor Mallard, invited a multi-faith group into the House to join him as an imam led them in prayer.

It was the first time Parliament had opened with a Muslim prayer, to the best knowledge of the Speaker’s Office.

The interfaith group included representatives of the Islamic, Jewish, Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu, Rātana, Catholic, Anglican and Presbyterian faiths and churches.

The Catholic archbishop of Wellington Cardinal John Dew represented the Catholic church.

In New Zealand’s Parliament, non-MPs on the floor of the debating chamber are known as strangers.

As the name implies they are not allowed there and are not welcome.

That, however, was not the case on Tuesday.

“I’ve asked a group of religious leaders to come into Parliament with me as a sign of unity and togetherness …” Mallard said.

Sung first in Arabic by Imam Nizam ul haq Thanvi, and then translated into English, the prayer asked God for help with “patience and prayers”, noting “God is with people who are patient”.

The prayer also acknowledged Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and those who responded to the terror attack including medical staff, the police, religious groups and all New Zealanders who had offered help and support.

The Imam’s prayer was followed by prayers from both Māori and Pākehā MPs.


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