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Kiwi's passport cancelled after converting to Islam

Published: 1:33PM Sunday July 13, 2014 Source: SUNDAY

A former gang member who's recently converted to Islam has had his passport cancelled because he is deemed to be a security risk by the Government.

Wiremu Curtis, who now goes by the name Haroon, told TVNZ's Sunday programme that he doesn't know why he's seen as a risk.

The young New Zealander recently undertook a radical transformation - he went from patched gang member to devout Muslim.

"I've left violent gang life for a life of peace".

In May this year when he tried to travel to the Middle East, he says to get an education, he was stopped at the airport.

"They brought in some SIS agent and they just started interrogating me. They said, we're taking your passport away from you, you will not be flying today."

Mr Curtis has had his passport cancelled on the grounds that he is a danger to the security of New Zealand. The Sunday programme has discovered he is part of a small group of Muslims being infiltrated by the Security Intelligence Service.

"I believe they've taken my passport away maybe because of the people I hang around with," he says.

Mr Curtis follows controversial Imam Sheikh Abdulla Hamam who leads prayers in a West Auckland garage after being trespassed from the Avondale Islamic Centre. He says the Sheikh has been a great inspiration.

"He actually interacts with more youth than any other Imam, when he talks about the Quran and stories of the prophet it can almost make you cry."

Mr Curtis now sympathises with the plight of other Sunni Muslims in places that a year ago he knew little about.

"In those countries you can actually see what's happening and still people say it's not right to fight for them, you're a terrorist if you do."

But, he denies he's been radicalised by jihadists propaganda.

"I reckon it's wrong, but myself I wouldn't go and fight.

"I'm not a terrorist at all, I'm not a terrorist."