A Brisbane Muslim woman speaks out

A recent poll of Australians suggests that almost half of us believe the confronting scenes of terrorism from Paris are inevitable or highly likely to occur in Australia. 

If that is the case, how should we feel about the Muslim population in our own country?

Just as importantly, how do Muslim Australians feel about these issues?

I found a fascinating interview with Australian Muslim woman, Fatima Deen.  Her family has been in Australia since the 1880s.

In the light of the Paris attacks – and the role of a Muslim woman in the terrorist cell – her thoughts were revealing.

 

An excerpt from the Sydney Morning Herald reads:

We spoke about those Muslim Australians who have gone overseas to fight, or who are supporting terrorism from here.

“I find it saddening, I really do, and I find it scary.  I wish I knew what went wrong or what was in their minds,” she said.

“I feel like they’ve been misled, and they are probably quite naive and don’t understand what they’re doing, or what their religion is about, either.”

It is clear that they have neither her support, nor her sympathy.

“When I first heard about suicide bombers … the first time I heard the word jihad, I was in university. I’d never heard of these things growing up.  What my parents told me was that if you committed suicide, you’d go straight to hell.  It was never a case that you’d kill somebody; it was just not the done thing.”

Most emphatically, she doesn’t think they are good Muslims or good people.

“I think they’re ill-guided and they don’t know what they are talking about.  I feel for Muslims and I feel for people being hurt all over the world, but I don’t think the answer is to put a bomb on myself and blow up people.

“They just don’t see the bigger picture.  They’re not really making any significant assistance to anyone’s plight,” she said.

I also found that Fatima and I shared common ground on the screening of supposed refugees. Like me, she believes we need to be extremely stringent in the way we assess applicants, and for a simple reason.

“I think Australia owes it to its citizens to ensure they’re protected.  We are entitled to put guidelines on who comes to this country – why not?  Otherwise you just open the borders.

“You have to have some criteria and guidelines, because you need to protect the people who are within the borders already.

“Don’t you have a duty to them?

“I’m an Australian, and I fear that if I’m in the public where these suicide bombers go, I fear for my children.  I want that my children are able to go freely anywhere, but I’m scared of these people.”

What becomes clear fairly quickly is that the mainstream media does a poor job of reflecting views of Muslims like her, and many others.

“People don’t realise they encounter Muslims every day, probably.  Some of us are more obvious than others.  The media does tend to speak to people who most obviously fit the role of the Muslim because they wear the hijab or have the big beard,” she said.

Clearly the media can do a better job, and that particularly applies to how Muslim women are largely ignored by the media.

“You don’t have women priests in Islam; they are all male.  The Imams, the Grand Mufti, they’re all male.  So whenever anyone is spoken to about what is happening in the world they focus on them.”

Fatima believes these people represent the views of the Muslim community to some extent, but not always.  She points out that in reality there are a wide range of views in the Muslim community, as there are in the Catholic community.

“You’ll find there are Muslims that are very right wing in their political views, and you’ll find ones that are very left wing in their politics and their outlook on life.”

What is interesting is the role Muslim mothers play in shaping the views of their community.  Fatima reflected on the perception of Muslim women as passive: “Not the ones I know!” she insisted.

“In my mum’s family they are definitely not passive; they’re the dominant ones in the family for sure.  I think all of my uncles kowtow to my aunties.”

In fact, Fatima told me her mother brought her and her sister up to be independent.  So much so that when she did poorly in school her mother sat her down and said she had two options: she could either get married and have a boring life; or she could go back to year 12, put her head down, and then go to university and be independent.

Which brought me to what she would say to her own sons about growing up in Australia.

“I’m Australian, born and bred, I’m then asked where my parents came from.  My children look Indian, or at least a mix of something, so I tell them of their heritage – being Indian, Scottish, Irish –  but ultimately they are Australian.  That is the country, culture and values that I and they will identify with.

“My husband comes from an atheist background, but we have common values, so we want to raise our children to have those common values, and that is the same if you are a Muslim, Christian, atheist, Jew, and that is be good to other people.”

I agree.  Perhaps if we could all put away some of our hate, and work together for some common goals, Australia would be a better, more harmonious place.  It’s up to all of us.

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#NotInMyName

Muslims around the world have turned to Twitter to campaign against ISIS and recent acts of violence the group has claimed responsibility for.

The hashtags #MessageToISIS and #NotInMyName have been used widely since ISIS claimed responsibility for deadly attacks in Beirut and Paris.

The Active Change Foundation is promoting both hashtag campaigns to encourage young Muslims to add “their voices to the fight-back against ISIS”as quoted on the website.

“Islam teaches peace, respect and love. ISIS is hiding behind a false Islam. It’s nothing to do with what we stand for. Tell ISIS that they can’t murder in your name.”

 

 

SBS writes:

Muslim feminist Philistine Ayad told CNN she hoped the #NotInMyName campaign would help to remove Islamophia from Western societies.

“I want there to be an understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims and a sense of communal sympathy for the victims of terrorists, but not descending into Islamophobia,” she told CNN.

“If the #NotInMyName campaign can help expel some of that Islamophobia and expel some of my fear … then that would be wonderful.”

Ayad has also used art to demonstrate the burden terrorist acts placed on innocent Muslims.

“#NotInMyName means that we are taking that power back, to represent ourselves to what we truly are and that is peaceful people.”

Waleed Aly gave the speech Turnbull should have

The latest opinion poll results will make Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull very happy. According to the Fairfax Ipsos poll published on Monday, the Coalition leads Labor by 48 per cent to 29 on primary vote and Turnbull himself has a net approval lead over Opposition Leader Bill Shorten of a whopping 81 points.

The Ipsos poll was taken, in part, over last weekend, after news broke of Friday’s dreadful night of terror in Paris. Fortuitously, Turnbull was in Berlin as the French capital endured one of its darkest nights. His response was correct and businesslike. He called on the French embassy in Berlin to express the horror and condolences of all Australians. He worked through the night, and the weekend, to ensure Australia’s national security response was sound, and sought to reassure Australians every possible precaution was being taken to protect us at home and abroad.

He then went to the G20 summit in Turkey, consulting with US president Barack Obama, French foreign minister Laurent Fabius and other world leaders.

To his great credit, Turnbull also pointed out that the hideous atrocities in Paris have counterparts in Turkey, Lebanon and the suspected downing of a Russian jetliner over Egypt by the Islamic State terror group. He grasped that Paris was not just a huge attack on the West and its way of life, but part of a wave of terror reaching across the civilised world.

In other words, Turnbull followed meticulously the political leadership textbook. He responded, he reassured, he acted. He looked decisive and in charge, just as Abbott did in July last year when Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down by Ukrainian rebels. It’s what prime ministers do.

 

But tellingly, what needed most to be said in the aftermath of Paris came not from Turnbull or another politician, but from Muslim academic and presenter of Channel 10’s The Project, Waleed Aly. A left-wing political scientist and TV personality, Aly is not normally someone earning the praise of someone from the conservative right, but his Paris editorial on national television nailed it.

Quoting Islamic State’s own words against it, Aly made an impassioned plea for unity – indeed for community – and understanding over hate and fear. He said that IS wants to split the world into two camps, fomenting “a global war between Muslims and everyone else … They want countries like ours to reject their Muslims and vilify them.”

If you didn’t see it on Monday night, go online and watch, particularly Aly’s most telling points that speak to all of us:

ISIL leaders would be ecstatic to hear that Muslims have been reportedly threatened and attacked in England, America and here in Australia because this evil organisation has it in their heads that if they can make Muslims the enemy of the West, then Muslims in France and England and America and here in Australia will have nowhere to turn but to ISIL. That was exactly their strategy in Iraq. And now they want it to go global. Saying that out loud, it is both dumbfounding in its stupidity and blood-curdling in its barbarity…

So if you’re a member of Parliament or a has-been member of Parliament (Pauline Hanson) preaching hate at a time when what we actually need is more love, you are helping ISIL. They have told us that. If you are a Muslim leader telling your community they have no place here, or a non-Muslim basically saying the same thing, you are helping ISIL. They have told us that. Or if you’re just someone with a Facebook or Twitter account firing off misguided missives of hate, you are helping ISIL. They have told us that. And I am pretty sure that right now none of us wants to help these bastards.

Whether you’re of the left or right, Christian or Muslim, how utterly correct Aly is.

Yet how good it would have been had words of such great heartfelt passion, power and insight had come from Turnbull, Shorten, Abbott or any of our elected leaders whose collective fear of saying the wrong thing at a time of great crisis means that they don’t say the right things at all. It should not have been left to a TV presenter, however expert and charismatic, to say what needed to be heard by all of us, challenging and dismissing intolerance and hatred born of fear.

#IAmMuslimIAmHuman: Couple Feeds 4,000 Syrian Refugees on Their Wedding Day

A couple in Turkey swapped out lavish nuptials with their friends and family for the bread line with thousands of Syrian refugees.

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Fethullah Üzümcüoğlu and Esra Polat doled out food to 4,000 Syrian refugees for their wedding reception on the border town of Kilis. The bride wore an elaborate white dress, with a tiara perched on her headdress, and the groom sported a white tuxedo with black trim. They stood behind large food trucks distributing meals to hungry Syrians. The couple had decided that instead of hosting their friends and family for a traditional banquet reception, they would feed the victims of a bloody civil war next door.