No room in the church for extremist anti-gay views


In February two gay men were assaulted by Joden Martin who claimed he was offended by the fact that Aziz Al-Sa’afin and his friends were standing beside a church.

When Martin appeared for sentencing in the court last Friday, Al-Sa’afin said there is no place for extremist views in the church.

Martin’s lawyer had said at an earlier hearing that her client carried out the assault because he held certain “religious views”.

“I grew up in a Catholic household. I know what religion is, and that isn’t what religion is.

I don’t believe that those kind of extremist views belong here, or anywhere for that matter.”

In his victim impact statement, Al- Sa’afin said he felt pity for Martin.

“My message to this guy is I really feel sorry for you.

“From my understanding, this was motivated by his religious views. I’ve grown up in a massively religious household and the only thing that I’ve always been taught is love.”

He went on to forgive Martin. Addressing him directly, Aziz said: “To move forward, to help with my own healing, I need to do this. I forgive you for what you did to me.

“I hope that if there’s anything you take from today, it’s that we all believe in the same thing and that is love.”

Aziz’s is a journalist whose family came to New Zealand as refugees when he was about 18 months old.

His mother is from Lebanon, his father is from France.

His mother was a travelling journalist and when he was born she had just got a job with the Lebanese embassy in Kuwait.

“I was born in Kuwait and the Gulf War happened. So we were caught in the war and I essentially lived the first 18 months of my life in a bunker at our house.”


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