Sunday, December 23, 2007

COMMENT: Tom Zubrycki is a great bloke but ...

(This piece was written on the night Temple of Dreams was broadcast on TV, which I think was 4 December 2007.)

You take a leading role in a religious youth group. You enter into a lease over what used to be a Masonic temple. You don’t get any proper legal or town planning advice to determine how zoning, OH&S and other laws affect your proposed usage of the premises. You just sign the lease and start using the place as you wish. You then wonder why the Council is trying to close you down.

Are you a martyr? Are you the subject of a conspiracy against people of your ethno-religious identity? Or are you just a complete dill?

I’ve written about Tom Zubrycki’s documentary Temple of Dreams in the past. Having watched it in full on SBSTV last night, I can’t say Zubrycki disappointed me. I wish I could say the same about Fadi Rahman and his group of volunteers from the ICRA Youth Centre.

I admire the resourcefulness of these kids who don’t wait for peak religious bodies or imams to provide services to kids in their neighbourhood. On the other hand, this young intelligent group of kids, born and brought up in Australia, can hardly blame prejudice and racism from John Howard, all because they didn’t think it might just be an idea to check the rule book before setting up shop.

Would they behave in this fashion concerning their own private or business affairs? Would Fadi open a car repair workshop in any place that looked vaguely appropriate without getting a lawyer to run through the lease? Or a lawyer and/or town planner to advise on what usage is permissible?

Why is it that, when it came to religion and community, they cut corners and tried to save money? Sadly, having acted for more community organisations (Muslim and otherwise), I’ve seen too many organisational leaders cutting corners and throwing their intelligence out the door on risk management, expecting councils, governments and law enforcement people to grant them special exemptions and allowances.

But failing to get proper professional advice isn’t all. Here’s someone telling kids to show leadership while screaming at his female volunteers in a grossly sexist manner in front of the cameras! At one point, he shouted ...

Let’s work as a God-damned team!
Shades of Billy Birmingham doing Ritchie Benaud: “Let’s work as a team, and do it my way!” Sadly, this was not comedy.

And how damned insular were these leaders? One was surprised to get e-mail from a gay newspaper wondering if gay Muslim youth were represented. Another said ...

I was shocked to see our research showing so many brothers and sisters in Islam turning to suicide.
Why surprised? Do you think Muslim kids live in a social bubble, unaffected by the same factors as everyone else?

Role models aren’t supposed to be perfect or saintly. But if this is the kind of role model young Lebanese Muslims have, God help them and us.

Words © 2007 Irfan Yusuf

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1 comment:

darvish said...

"A complete dill" LOL that is a new one for me :)