Sunday, October 24, 2010

COMMENT: Yasir Morsi on assimilation ...

On Sunday morning, 24 October 2010 I found myself at Melbourne University for a talk by Yasir Morsi, current President of the Melbourne University Muslim Students Association (a position formerly held by luminaries such as Waleed Aly) and one of the brains behind the Granada Project.

In the past, Yasir has taken great exception to my book and to what he perceives to be my "sucking up to whitey". His criticisms of me during public exchanges on Facebook have been so polite, have involved so little name-calling or personal attacks and have always been so focussed on the issues that they are best left for the far-right margin of Planet Irf.

So it was with some interest that I attended Yasir's lecture on Sunday. I took some copious notes and also recorded it on my rather primitive Nokia.

Believe it or not, Yasir did have some very useful things to say. What really impressed me about his presentation was his definition of assimilation, which in the context of 21st century Aussie Muslims he described as ...

... not a move toward something but rather a move away from something. Muslims are expected to move away from their tradition.

He used a very powerful image of seeing the reflection of his face with all its Arab features on the TV set while he was watching the towers collapse in New York on 11 September 2001. He remarked that since that date, it is as if ...

The towers are always collapsing.

Muslims are only being seen as those responsible for the collapsing of the towers.

I'll blog some more about this interesting talk later.

Words © 2010 Irfan Yusuf

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RACISM: Words of wisdom from Eugenia Flynn ...

On Tuesday 19 October 2010, Adelaide-based Eugenia Flynn spoke at a gathering at Melbourne University on the topic of Race & Identity in the Muslim Community. Her words and her delivery stunned her listeners as well as her fellow panellists (North American comics Preacher Moss and Azhar Usman).

I tried taking copious notes at the event, which I have typed out and reproduced below. If anyone who attended has any corrections or can add anything, please do.

[01] My conversion to Islam did not represent a rejection of my Aboriginal or Catholic heritage. I don't reject Catholicism as some kind of religion of oppressors. My path to Islam was more of a flowering of my innate spirituality.

[02] Some Muslims see Islam as a badge of honour. Because Islam is getting a rough time, they see being Muslim as giving them street cred.

[03] Some migrant Muslims claim that they have a more exclusive and legitimate connection with Aboriginal people, as if Muslims have a superior claim to Australia than non-indigenous followers of other faiths. This sense of ownership and superiority leads to a kind of arrogance, as if Muslims have a greater right to speak for indigenous people, which is compounded by the fact that many Muslim migrants are not white. Many Muslims don't realise that this kind of arrogance makes them complicit in the injustice perpetrated toward indigenous people.

[04] Why is the Aboriginal Muslim community growing? Are Aboriginal converts attracted by some alleged increase in freedom? Do Aboriginal Muslims feel Muslim for all the same reasons? Must it always be explained as a rejection of Christianity and/or Western culture?

[05] Many Muslims have adopted the same colonial mindset toward indigenous people as Christian missionaries. They see the purpose of dawah (preaching) to be saving Aboriginal people and getting them to leave behind their aboriginality. Aboriginal Muslims are also pressed to adopt migrant Muslim modes of dress etc. Underlying this is often the presumption that Aboriginality boils down to petrol sniffing, alcohol abuse and criminality.

[06] The notion that Muslims somehow become morally superior over other Australians simply because a growing number of indigenous people are adopting Islam must be challenged.

To be continued ...

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