The following post was published on the Aussie Mossie blog on Tuesday September 19 2006.
In today's Daily Telegraph and Canberra Times, I challenged the tiny but loud minority of infantile Muslim protesters to siddown and shuddup or find another religion. Today, I’d like to make some suggestions to the more mature Muslims living on either side of the Tasman.
In January, the Australia-Indonesia Institute sent me with a group of 4 other Aussie Muslims to Indonesia. That trip included a visit to a private Protestant university in Yogyakarta, that gorgeous Javanese town recently rocked by earthquakes and living in the shadow of a rather nasty volcano.
The students and staff at this university were all members of a religious minority in the world’s largest Muslim country. I couldn’t help but notice these Indonesians expressing virtually the same concerns Muslims express in Australia and New Zealand.
If Muslims aren’t concerned about the plight of Christian minorities in nominally Muslim countries like Indonesia, they shouldn’t expect anyone to care about their problems in Australia. Further, Muslims have strong theological reasons to act in this case. The Prophet Muhammad promised that on the Day of Judgment he would personally testify against any Muslim who caused the slightest injury to a non-Muslim citizen of a Muslim state.
With that in mind, here are some practical suggestions for Muslims:
a. Imams and Presidents of all local mosques contact and offer support to their local Catholic clergy.
b. All peak Muslim bodies and the PM’s Muslim Reference Group should write letters to embassies of all member-states of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) demanding their governments take all necessary steps to protect Christian churches and other property and to bring to justice anyone who so much as threatens Christian civilians and property.
c. The Boards of Imams of each State and territory should write to their equivalent boards in each province or state of each OIC state and (unless Phillip Ruddock deems this in some cases to breach anti-terror laws) to each Islamic party and remind them of their religious and legal responsibilities toward Christian minorities.
d. Prominent and wealthy Australian Muslims should sponsor full-page advertisements in as many English-language dailies published in OIC states as possible. These advertisements should remind Muslim readers of the extensive religious and legal duties Muslims have toward their Christian brethren.
These are just some of the things that come to mind.
Christian minorities have played productive roles in Muslim communities across the world. Christians like Dr Hanan Ashrawi and Amin Maalouf (author of The Crusades Through Arab Eyes) have defended Muslim perspectives in historical and political matters.
In Pakistan, the late Justice AR Cornelius, Chief Justice of the Pakistan Supreme Court from 1960 to 68, defended the rights of Pakistanis to implement Muslim religious law.
In Australia, the Catholic Church is at the forefront of not only defending the rights of (mainly Muslim) asylum seekers but also providing them with essential welfare services. Indeed, Christian churches have been far more active than Muslim organizations, a matter of enormous shame for Australian Muslims.
Indeed, the Pope himself has been at the forefront of supporting peace efforts in the Middle East. He has been a staunch critic of the Israeli incursions into Lebanon and Gaza, and expressed his concerns on these issues just days before his address in Germany.
Words © 2006-9 Irfan Yusuf
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