This article analyses the biography of Bajram Murati (1930-2013), an Albanian refugee to New Zealand, and the contentions over symbolic spaces and meaning within the New Zealand Muslim community over the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. At the centre of the analysis stand the ongoing negotiations between Murati, as director-general of the New Zealand Council of the World Muslim Congress, and other Muslim community representatives over leadership.
Such an examination reveals much about the wider immigrant experience and the nuanced evolution of Islam inside a secular society of Anglo-European Christian heritage. The author contextualizes the cultural and social setting of his life, highlighting both his commercial interests outside the religious organisations and his extensive discussions on faith issues. As should become obvious, the notion of a simple Albanian-Muslim rivalry with Asian-immigrants does not suffice to explain in depth the complex mechanisms at work. Altogether intra-Muslim communal competition, the reshaping of Islamic identities and solidarities across the country, and variegated political discourse have generated differences and loyalties that go well beyond one-dimensional ethnic conditionalities.
Key words:Bajram Murati, New Zealand, Muslim Community, Albanian immigrants, Islam, Christianity.