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Religion alive and well in student’s daily life

Jun 3rd, 2009 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News


GOD is not dead but religion may be dying, according to a new study from Massey University.

Professor Philip Gendall’s study on religious affiliation suggests New Zealanders have become less religious over the past 17 years.

Santo Benissa is one of a minority of New Zealanders who still describe themselves as religious – about a third in the country, according to the study.

Mr Benissa remembers discovering the Kilbirnie mosque and “it being one of the best days of my life”.

“I didn’t have a good understanding of Islam before,” he says. “But I was always seeking the truth.”

The Moroccan-born 37-year-old has lived in New Zealand for 13 years and previously worked as a retail manager, but is now doing a preparatory university course at Whitireia Community Polytechnic.

Mr Benissa takes time out of his day for the five Islamic obligatory prayers – two of which are performed during class time.

He has found his classmates surprisingly understanding and says they are quiet during prayer.

Mr Benissa speaks French, Arabic, Berber and English fluently and hopes to become an English language teacher.

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is a Whitireia Journalism student. She is multilingualled and previously studied religion at Victoria University. She has a keen interest in music, fashion and all things trashy.
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