Sunday, December 09, 2007

New Youth Leadership program ...

The Sydney-based Mission of Hope (MoH) have received funding from the Department of Immigration & Citizenship to run a program called Muslim Youth Leadership Challenge (MYLC).

The program has its own website (found here) as well as a variety of promotional materials including this poster. The program is open to young people in Years 10-12 from across the Sydney metropolitan area. It aims to attract young people who identify themselves as Muslim and are enthusiastic about creating change.

Young people of all different backgrounds identify themselves as Muslim. One therefore assumes the program will be open to persons of Nusayri/Alawi, Ismaili, Ahmadi/Qadiani, Alevi (Turkish/Kurdish) and even Druze backgrounds. One also presumes the program will be open to young Muslims regardless of their sexuality. Hence, one hopes that the organisers will not exclude young people who openly identify themselves as gay.

Of course, Islamic sacred law regards homosexual sex as sinful, just as it regards many forms of heterosexual sex as sinful. At the same time, both gays and Muslims are minorities who have been the target of vilification and discrimination in recent times.

It is extremely important that young Muslims are taught that an essential component of leadership is the ability to build coalitions of common purpose with all kinds of people. These include people with whom might otherwise disagree.

Further, Muslims must become accustomed to working with other persons who regard themselves as Muslims but aren't commonly regarded within religious circles as being Muslim. The fact is that bigots and sectarian fruitloops don't treat you any better just because you call yourself Sunni or Shia or Sufi or Alevi or anything else. If your name is Muhammad or Ali, you are just as likely to be the target of discrimination regardless of your sexual preference.

Given the expressed and published attitudes of certain organisers of the program toward homosexuals, I hope the Department funding the program will carefully scrutinise the project to ensure that such prejudices do not play a role in the selection of successful applicants or the execution of the program.

© Irfan Yusuf 2007

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