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Muslim leader urges Crusaders NOT to change name in response to Christchurch attack

EXCLUSIVE: One of Australia’s most vocal Muslim community leaders has urged the Crusaders Super Rugby club not to change its name in response to the Christchurch mosque attack.

The Crusaders have launched a community consultation period as they prepare to rebrand in a bid to distance itself from the attack on March 15.

New Zealand Rugby CEO Steve Tew believes the name is “no longer tenable” in light of terminology used in the alleged terrorist’s manifesto, as well as its similarity in name to the religious Crusades, a series of bloody wars between Christians and Muslims beginning in approximately the year 1095.

But Australian Muslim leader Dr Jamal Rifi has urged against a change, warning a re-brand would award the alleged terrorist a small victory.

“As a sporting team, to change their name and change their history because of what that terrorist has done to innocent people… I don’t think they should be obliged, or forced to do so,” Dr Rifi told Macquarie Sports Radio‘s Cam Reddin.

Dr Rifi says the Crusaders do not need to change their name for the sake of the Muslim community.

“The Crusaders, as a name, is historical terminology. A thousand years ago. We have passed that stage,” Dr Rifi said.

“I reckon they should stand firm. They should make it known to everyone that despite the name, we don’t hold the views of people a thousand years ago,” Dr Rifi said.

Minor steps have already been taken to tone down the club’s imagery. From this weekend, Crusaders fans will no longer be greeted with knights on horseback as part of match day entertainment.

Dr Rifi urged the club to consider “what makes them comfortable” in assessing its imagery, but should not bow to external pressure if supporters are not on board.

“The Australian Muslim community has been called many different names and asked to do many different things. Two wrongs doesn’t make it right,” he said.

“[The Crusaders] should be thinking in a positive way. They will consult, they will see with their membership. If one of them is not comfortable with changing the name, I don’t think they should change it”.

“They should keep it, but change the attitude, change the interaction: be more forceful into opening doors for smaller minorities to be a part of that team, rather than creating a gap in communities,” Dr Rifi said.

“That way, we can overcome anything and everything that terrorist wanted to do in New Zealand”.

Hear the full interview below. Listen to the Weekend Warm-Up with Cam Reddin – 4.00-7.00am Saturday and Sunday