Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Cadbury AFIC - Full of Nuts!

Take a walk down George Street Sydney or Collins Street Melbourne. Ask the average Catholic if they have heard of Cardinal Pell. Ask the average Buddhist if they have heard of the Dalai Lama. They will both say yes.

Ask the average Muslim - the banker or lawyer or accountant or public servant – if they have heard of AFIC.

“AFIC? What’s that? Has Cadbury released a new chocolate-coated ice cream?”

After watching the hopeless display of the AFIC Chief Executive Officer, you would think it was an ice cream. Except the colour of the chocolate is irrelevant. Just know that if you are allergic to nuts, you should not taste it.

Some 20 days after the London bombing, the AFIC website still has no press release or announcement or message of condemnation of the terrorist attacks. Indeed, the last terrorist attacks I read AFIC condemning were the ones in Turkey. On that occasion, the AFIC press release advised that Istanbul was the capital of Turkey.

And these are just some of the indications that AFIC is hopelessly out of touch with mainstream Muslim Australia. Turkish Australians make up perhaps the largest single ethnic group among Muslims. Yet AFIC is so out of touch with Turks that it does not even know that Istanbul has not been the capital of Turkey for over 6 decades.

And now, AFIC has decided to write to Australian Imams ordering them to condemn terror. So which language will the letter be written in? Arabic? Swahili? Fiji-Hindi? After all, AFIC has overseen a mosque management system which has ensured that most Imams in Australia do not speak English.

What steps has AFIC taken to communicate with young people? What support has AFIC given to youth? The last time AFIC arranged a Muslim youth camp was in 1987. Since then, it appointed an Imam aged over 60 to be its youth adviser.

What steps has AFIC taken to understand its community? Is it aware of the age, ethnic, gender and cultural composition of the Muslim communities? Has it bothered to study what Muslims think of key social and political issues?

In the last 5 years, a large number of Muslims have migrated from Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq. The bulk of these have been Shia Muslims. What representation do Shia Muslims have in AFIC?

Then there is the issue of mismanagement. Where do we start? Over the years, AFIC has received millions of dollars in donations from wealthy private and governmental donors in the Middle East. Where has that money gone? How has it been accounted for?

One such donation was channelled into a secret account. The amount involved was around $500,000. No one on the executive committee knew of the existence of the account for at least 3 years. No one, that is, except the CEO of AFIC.

Not even the auditors of AFIC knew of the account. It was finally discovered when AFIC changed auditors. The existence of the account involved AFIC in breaches of taxation laws and threatened its tax-exempt status.

Mr CEO may deny all this. He can deny until he is black and blue in the face. I have a copy of the legal advice from AFIC’s then lawyers in which they describe this and other misdemeanours of Mr CEO.

So now this inept and bumbling organisation wishes the Federal Government to accredit it as the official Muslim peak body with special legislative powers, a kind of Muslim ATSIC. The CEO claims that AFIC is most suited to this role as it has a democratic structure.

Let’s look at New South Wales, the state which has the largest number of Muslims in Australia. Let’s see AFIC democracy in action. In 2000, AFIC had a falling out with the Islamic Council of NSW. In reality, the CEO had a falling out with the Roude family empire. AFIC showed its commitment to democracy by setting up a rival council, the Supreme Islamic Council of NSW.

Some years later, AFIC had a falling out with the Supreme Council. So they formed another council. When Muslims in NSW heard about it, some speculated that the name of the new body would be the “Super-Supreme Islamic Council of NSW”. Hence the three councils being known collectively as the “Pizza Councils”.

AFIC is but one of numerous peak bodies that have failed to represent the views and interests of mainstream Muslim Australians. It has little commitment to democracy, and has no record of structured consultation with ordinary Australian Muslims. It does little for young people. Its internal management structures are appalling.

Can the government afford to invest legislative powers in so unrepresentative and undemocratic body? Can a body which functions like a crackpot Arab regime be entrusted with government funds and powers to fight against threats to national security?

And can Muslim Australians now afford to sit back and allow this unrepresentative swill to take control of their collective destinies?

© Irfan Yusuf 2005

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1 comment:

WarriorEtte said...


keep up the good work!

interesting read!