Thursday, September 15, 2005

John Cobb and Marginalising Muslims

Australian Citizenship Minister John Cobb claims that there is a huge communication divide between Muslim Australians and the rest of Australia. He says this is caused by cultural and language factors. He says much racism against Muslims arises from the fact that Muslim leaders just do not know how to communicate honestly and appear up-front in the eyes of the broader community.

Thanks, John, We could have told you that years ago. I am now 36. I could have told you that 20 years ago after going to my first Muslim youth camp. And I could tell you a whole heap more now.

Young Muslim Australians brought up in Australia and speaking English as their mother tongue could have told you and the PM all this. But instead of inviting us and our representatives, you chose to invite a group largely consisting of the same unemployable bunch of no-hopers.

These “uncles” (women are rarely welcomed in their circles) have been hogging Muslim leadership positions. They have little or no loyalty to Australia, having built their empire and fortunes from the largesse of shonky despotic Arab governments. At least one of them is still on the payroll of Saudi religious institutions (not to mention Saudi intelligence).

Mr Howard chose to invite 2 delegates from the irrelevant Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, an umbrella body of state and territory councils of little relevance to mainstream Muslims. AFIC is riddled with nepotism and corruption. Soon, the executive officer of AFIC will be exposed in the media was a fraud who made a substantial fortune out of picketing halal meat funds. Also revealed will be his setting up of a secret account containing a donation from a Libyan organization.

Then there is the royal family who have been ruling one of three Islamic Councils in NSW. Members of the family owe at least 2 lawyers over $15,000 in legal fees, including one member who was investigated by the Federal Police in relation to a tender for employment services. This fellow was employed by his older brother as a case manager, and his older sister has also been at the heart of operations of that council and many of its member-societies.

The ex-chairman of that council is currently Principal of a government-funded Islamic primary school, despite not having even a Higher School Certificate.

Then there is the PM’s favourite wahhabi Muslim. The PM loves visiting his school, and has even allowed Mr Ruddock to have dinner at the man’s house. Mr Howard wants a scandal. He is not satisfied with the industrial relations debacle, Telstra fueds and revelations of religious extremism inside the NSW Branch of the Liberal Party. Mr Howard wants to be seen hob-knobbing with a man who has sent hundreds of young Australians to extremist seminaries in Saudi Arabia and who invites and hosts extremist Saidi religious scholars to give lectures and classes in Australia.

Mr Howard will not invite young 2nd and 3rd and 4th generation Muslim professionals and business people. He won’t talk to Ahmed Fehour or John Ilhan or Irfan Yusuf or Adem Somyurek or Waleed Aly or Hanifa Dean or Randa Abdel-Fattah or Dr Tanveer Ahmed or others of that ilk. He is too busy talking to middle-aged Indian men to worry about what Aussie Mossies think.

Mr Howard only speaks to self-appointed leaders on the very margins of the mainstream Aussie Mossie community. He wants to speak to those busy marginalizing Muslim Australians. He would rather speak to institutions most Muslims ignore, bodies that appoint people to positions such as “Mufti” without defining their role of giving them proper resources.

John Cobb is correct in saying that young Muslims needed to be involved in the security debate. After all, these same young Muslims live and study and work in Australia. Their closest ties are to Australia. Their loyalty is beyond dispute. They understand Australian culture and values because they practice these as their own.

Yet sadly, it is these genuinely Aussie Mossies who will be the first to be attacked and humiliated and marginalized. They feel hurt the most by infantile comments of ignorant Liberal backbenchers like Bronwyn Bishop and Sophie Whatsherface. If things get too bad, the “uncles” can always go back to Fiji or India or Sri Lanka or Lebanon. But the Aussie Mossies have nowhere else to go!

Of course, Uncle Osama is sitting in his cave, hoping these young Aussie Mossies will join his disgraced pseudo-jihad. He wants these Aussie Mossies to feel marginalized, to feel out of place like foreigners in their own country.

And Uncle Osama can always rely on his loyal friends on Mr Howard’s backbench (and even on the Treasurer and Education Minister) to make stupid comments aimed at marginalizing Muslims from the rest of the community. He can rely on NSW Liberal MLC’s and their staffers recruiting new members with a pathological hatred from Muslims and Jews.

When extremism hijacks the public discourse in Australia, the only beneficiary is Uncle Osama. He and his agents can whisper in the ears of some depressed lonely marginalized nominal Muslim. And before we know it, Sydney or Melbourne has its own 9/11 or 7/7. No amount of draconian “anti-terror” laws will be able to stop the process.

Marginalisation of Australian Muslims is a bigger threat to our society than terrorism or bird flu. Muslims are one of the oldest and well-established faith communities. They have been at the heart of Australian life for over 150 years. If you marginalize them today, tomorrow it will be Sikhs, then Hindus, then Buddhists. And eventually we will go full-circle, back to marginalizing and hating Jews.

Uncle Osama will then really be smiling. And perhaps so will the ghost of Uncle Adolf.

© Irfan Yusuf 2005

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