Saturday, August 20, 2005

Aussie Pollies & Aussie Mossies

In recent times, there has been plenty of focus on a meeting between the Prime Minister John Howard and a small select group of allegedly “moderate” Muslim “leaders”.

The goal of this meeting, according to the PM, is to promote and encourage “moderate” leaders and to marginalise “radicals”. Mr Howard says he wants to "prevent impressionable younger people in particular from coming under the sway of extremism".

Kim Beazley, seeking to out-Howard Mr Howard, has suggested that Dr Nelson should also attend as Education Minister. Why? Because “Australian values” must be taught in all schools including Islamic schools.

We have not yet heard from the real opposition leader, whom we understand at this stage to be Senator Barnaby Joyce. Or is it Dr Evans? Who knows.

What we do know is that the politicians have basically sought to invite another bunch of politicians to talk politics. Mainstream Muslim Australians are once again being side-lined. The twin pillars of Muslim Australia – women and young Muslims born and raised in Australia – are being ignored.

I am in no way suggesting that no one amongst the lucky 15 or so people should not be part of the meeting. But let’s look at some of the people.

One participant is a man who for years ran a shadowy body called the “National Federation of Islamic Societies”. The chap is a Pakistani of Pathan origin who originally was aligned to Colonel Gaddafi and then switched sides to the Saudi royal family.

This fellow has for years been sponsoring young Muslims to study in some of the most extreme and radical religious institutions in the Muslim world, including the Islamic University of Madeenah.

Perhaps a good test of the moderate nature of this university can be seen in its Australian graduates. Three prominent names come to mind – Sheiks Omran, Feiz Mohamed and Abdus Salam Zoud. All these three individuals have close links to the gentleman in question.

Mr Howard regularly speaks with this gentleman and chooses to visit his school in Auburn. Mr Howard lends his support to a man at the heart of the process of radicalisation of Muslim youth. Mr Howard is supporting the training of more young Australian Muslims into the likes of Zoud, Omran and Feiz.

Further, this gentleman has been found by an Australian court to have been involved in an interesting use of funds meant to be used by Turkish Muslim groups for their activities.

Turks are one of the largest and most established Muslim ethnic groups in Australia. One of Australia’s most successful Muslim businessmen, John Ilhan, is of Turkish background. Yet the PM has not invited a single Turk. Nor are other established communities (Bosnians and Albanians) represented in the list.

Then there is Dr Ameer Ali from the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC). Dr Ali told Perth talkback radio that he wants the government to hand special legislative powers to his body so that they can police and regulate Muslim Australian activity. His CEO, my old Uncle Amjad Mehboob, has also suggested that the government should move to ensure that only AFIC be allowed to operate Muslim independent schools.

The majority of Muslim schools are run outside the AFIC structure. Most of these schools form an umbrella body known as the Council of Islamic Education in Australia. The CIEA schools have all signed a manifesto condemning terrorism and violence. AFIC schools refuse to sign the manifesto.

Could Mr Beazley please advise what kind of Australian values would lead schools part of a peak Muslim body to refuse to sign their name to a document condemning terrorism? Could Mr Howard please advise what is so moderate about the refusal of AFIC schools to sign the manifesto?

Then there is one chap who has been the chairman of one of three peak Islamic councils in NSW. This chap is the principal of an independent school, yet he does not even hold a higher school certificate. He has a history of employing family members to perform services for his body, using government funding to pay them.

This gentleman was responsible for the closing down of the oldest umbrella Muslim youth body, the Islamic Youth Association of NSW (IYA). Up until a few years ago, the IYA existed in all but name. This gentleman had appointed his younger brother as president of the IYA. Other members of his family were ruling the roost of the Muslim Womens’ Association and the Muslim Aged Society.

The same younger brother who presided over the IYA also won a tender to provide job services to unemployed youth in 1998. He was the subject of a Federal Police investigation, and was represented by a Melbourne law firm who to this day have not been paid for their services. The amounts owing exceed well over $10,000.

Members of this family may be tempted to sue the writer for defamation. Before doing so, they should consider paying the fees of at least 2 other Muslim solicitors who have substantial amounts outstanding for services rendered at a heavily reduced rate.

It is people like these that Mr Howard believes are the moderate voices of the Muslim community. It is people like these that Mr Howard wishes to promote. Who is advising Mr Howard? In what way can these people contribute to national security?

In Sydney, there are over 5 Muslim womens’ bodies. Mrs Halim, the former President of one such body, will be attending the meeting. But what about Sally Mousa, President of the Muslim Womens Association? What about other womens’ representatives?

Muslim women make up over 51% of the Muslim Australian community. Where are they being represented? Why aren’t they the majority of those attending?

Mr Howard talks about not wanting to encourage young people to head toward extremism. So where are the youth representatives? Or is it just AFIC’s youth adviser, Sheik Hilali, who will be attending together with a token person from the NSW Youth Advisory Council? Why is the entire event being dominated by middle-aged migrant men?

But then, is it really Mr Howard’s fault that many on the list are unrepresentative? After all, AFIC has overseen a national structure which has been completely disorganised and disoriented. AFIC has created fake state councils when existing ones fall out of its favour. AFIC has allowed itself to be dominated by middle-aged sub-continental men.

Muslim Australians need to make AFIC accountable. Ordinary Aussie Mossies must ensure AFIC becomes their voice. They must ensure that the sub-continental and other ethnic types be shipped out and be replaced with a genuine bunch consisting of women and people brought up in Australia.

In short, Muslim Aussies must ensure AFIC becomes truly Australian.

The author is a Sydney lawyer.

© Irfan Yusuf 2005

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1 comment:

Gn3tiX said...

Racism in Australia will never end