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Muslim Eyes on Australia

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  • Muslim Eyes on Australia

    Age editorial: Real voices that must be heard

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    Muslim students abused on Melbourne train
    Group of Muslim students say they feared for their lives during a racially targeted attack on a Melbourne train. Video courtesy Seven News Melbourne.
    A Muslim mother in Sydney fears her grandchildren will end up in a concentration camp. A Victorian father won't tell his football team he is Muslim so he doesn't have to explain himself. To be Muslim is to be judged for everything you do, says a Brisbane woman. An international student living in Melbourne says she feels segregated in class.

    What is it to be Muslim in Australia today? Last month, Fairfax Media published the stories of nine men and women about life here as a Muslim. It then asked readers who are Muslim to speak of their experiences and how they explain extremism and Islamophobia to their children. Dozens of people responded. A selection of their edited responses are below.

    Michael Kelly with his daughter.
    Michael Kelly with his daughter.

    I don't even tell my footy team

    Michael Kelly, 29, Torquay

    I don't even tell my footy team I'm Muslim because I don't want to deal with the assumptions and ignorance of a lot of the people I come across. If somebody knows I'm Muslim it is guaranteed they'll ask me why I converted. I feel judged on my answer. If I said I was Christian no one would bat an eyelid. When my daughter gets older I will tell her that not everybody agrees with or understands the choices of another person, but that we should understand that everybody gets to make their own choices as long as it doesn't hurt another person. If it hurts another person, what you're doing is wrong. There seems to be two types of people: those who hate Muslims and everybody else.


    All Muslims are classed as terrorists

    Mocca, Perth, Afghan

    We came to Australia when I was three years old. I always thought Australia was my country until I started to wear a scarf. Nowadays all Muslims are classed as terrorists. When I started to cover I lost two friends because they couldn't hang around someone who covers and doesn't drink. Since covering up, complete strangers pass judgment on me. I've been verbally abused, a man once pulled a knife on me, the list goes on. I don't feel safe walking around the shops. Like I constantly have to be on guard in case I get attacked. It is sad how our society is acting. We are dividing ourselves. There should be no difference between a girl who wants to cover herself from head to toe or someone that wants to reveal everything. We should both be treated with the same respect.

    Small things might turn bigger

    Amalina Rahmat, 21, Melbourne, Malaysian

    I arrived in Australia as an international student after the Sydney siege. I felt scared, like I was segregated in class. When asked to form groups or pairs, people usually turned their backs to me and I was left to pair up with either another Asian kid or with the tutor. Maybe it's my accent, the colour of my skin or maybe it's the scarf I wear on my head. I don't know. I do feel like people treat me differently. I'm just a normal human being like everyone else. Once I was crossing the road at Federation Square with my brother and this man walked right up at me and spat on my shoe. I was really shaken because he was so big. My brother and I were both confused, but when we got home we realised there had been a Reclaim Australia rally a few hours earlier. My housemate was walking home recently when a group of young men in a car shouted, "You f---ing Muslim!" at her. Although these things might not be extreme, they are small things that, if not controlled might turn bigger. They should be called out.

    Sarah Shehata
    Sarah Shehata

    I don't want sympathy

    Sarah Shehata, 21, Melbourne, Arab

    It's like being an outcast. It's terrorising. I shouldn't have to wake up every morning thinking about how I am going to respond to verbal or physical abuse. I shouldn't have to walk around the streets thinking that my headscarf makes me a target, or that when someone looks at me it's because they resent my religion. Even when people smile at me, I shouldn't have to think it's for sympathy. I don't want sympathy. I don't want to feel terrified. I don't want to be hated for choosing something that makes me happy. I just want to fit in regardless of how I present myself.

    Australia is their country

    Sahar Elsemary, 48, Sydney, Egyptian

    At times, living in Australia as a Muslim is rewarding. At other times it is very difficult. I feel stressed going to certain suburbs or states. I worry that some ignorant person will swear at me for being a Muslim or pull my scarf off. This happened to me once when I was leading a tour in Lakemba. A man stopped me in the middle of the road and called me a terrorist and demanded that I go back where I came from. I tell my children it's just a small percentage of Australians who are ignorant and racist. That Australia is their country and that they should prove it to others that being a Muslim is an advantage.

    I have being told that the only good Muslim is a dead Muslim

    Faeeza Jawaid, Melbourne, Pakistani

    I have being told that the only good Muslim is a dead Muslim. This was in response to me saying that there is good and bad in every cultural or ethnic group and that the majority of Muslims are peace loving. I feel as if I need to constantly and actively denounce acts of terrorism because if I didn't the wider community will believe that I condone these heinous acts. It's saddening because this is not expected of our non-Muslim fellow countrymen. It indicates that Australian Muslims are somehow different to the rest of the community. I also feel very lucky to be an Australian. I happen to be surrounded by educated people who are fully aware that the majority of Muslims all over the world just want to get on with their lives peacefully.


    I feel marginalised by my colleagues

    Ziz, 28, Sydney, Indian

    I moved to Australia from Saudi Arabia with my family in the 1990s. I'm now an operating theatre nurse working at two major metropolitan hospitals; one public and one private. But I have cut down my hours at the private hospital, partly because of the hurtful comments made by a surgeon-anaesthetist team I work with. They regularly discuss international and domestic affairs and, over the two-and-a-half years I assisted on this operating list, they have made insulting, hurtful and racist comments on a daily basis. Things like, "They should all be moved back to the Middle East and wipe each other out", or, "This halal food practice is nonsense". On occasions, I have been interrogated. They've asked why elders in my community didn't publicly denounce terrorism and how I could associate myself with people like this. This line of questioning intensified dramatically after the Sydney Siege, Paris attacks and raids in Sydney. I became increasingly bitter and jaded and now seldom work at this facility. I don't consider myself a good Muslim; I don't wear a hijab, I have tattoos and barely pray or fast during Ramadan. I feel marginalised by my colleagues in a professional setting and from my family in my personal life, who lecture me about the things I am doing wrong as a Muslim woman.

    My daughter is too young to understand hate

    Arva, Adelaide, Indian

    I have not spoken to my daughter about extremism because she is too young to understand hate. She only understands love. I wear a hijab and the abaya. I feel judged because of the way I dress. People have shouted insults at me from cars as they drive past. I have been verbally abused while walking along the street. I have been called terrorist. It makes me cry and feel very sad. I have been always respected at school, parks and by the people living around me. The media has influenced people to think that all Muslims support terrorism. The teaching of Islam has been misinterpreted.

    Being a minority is harder

    Nada, Melbourne, Indian

    Being a Muslim in Australia is not the concern. Being a minority in Australia makes day-to-day activities harder. You have to constantly prove yourself, your beliefs and your existence in a land that itself was invaded. There are bad people out there who are disenfranchised and searching for avenues to show they stand out. They will do anything. These people don't reflect us. Their minds are not normal and they are doing things irrationally.

    Sahar with his family in Sydney.
    Salah with his family in Sydney.

    We are under constant pressure

    Salah, 37, Sydney, Arab-Tunisian

    We are under constant pressure from the media and politicians. It seems everyone has an idea about how Muslims should behave. The majority of Muslims are law-abiding citizens who want a better life for their families. We love this country and we will do anything to protect it and uphold its liberal values. Unfortunately, all the media attention has been given to the tiny portion who have been brainwashed by extremists. My children are very young and don't know anything about religion and politics. But I'm very concerned about future bullying and discrimination because they are Muslims. They have been raised like every other child in this country. I don't see our family as being different to any other Australian family, but perhaps people see us as different.

    Muslims are public enemy number one

    Um Omar, 30, Sydney

    Living in Australia is harder now than it ever has been. Attitudes towards Muslims are worse than they have ever been. People on global platforms are able to abuse us and call for our extermination with no consequence. I am an Australian born to migrant parents. Growing up, I thought we were in the best place on earth. My family were practising Muslims but the women didn't wear the hijab. I started to wear it at 16 and by the time I completed university was wearing the niqab. I received a little discrimination then, but nowhere near as much as I do now. When my children see me being abused on the street for my dress, they get upset. I tell my children these are ignorant and angry people and that we should pray for them. There are so many people deliberately peddling misinformation and trying to stir discord. I'm no longer comfortable in this country and that's exactly what extremists on both sides want. I'm extra conscious of my safety and that of my children because I am such a visible target and, at the moment, Muslims are public enemy number one. I've only started feeling this way in the past two to three years and I place the blame mainly on the media.

    I focus on teaching respect

    Rahim, Perth, Albanian-Scottish

    Before 2001 Australia was a great place to live. Since the attacks in New York I feel that there is a divide. Thankfully, we live in a community where Muslims are well respected. My children are not old enough to understand the events on the news, but generally I do not focus on what others do. I focus on teaching my children about respect, good manners and tolerance. I tell them they can play with anyone they want to as long as they do the right thing. Do not play with people who are bad. I do not appear outwardly Muslim and have heard anti-Muslim speech many times. A former colleague once told me they could "pick a Muslim a mile off". I currently work as a teacher and I have overheard students insult other students by calling them a Muslim.

    Mughees Ahmad
    Mughees Ahmad

    ​Australia has been an absolute pleasure

    Mughees Ahmad, 35, Sydney, Pakistani

    It has been an absolute pleasure living in Australia for 26 years of my life. This country and its people have treated me when I was ill, taught me how to read and write, given me the opportunity to run a successful business. I have been allowed to practise my religion openly at a place of my choosing. I lived in Sydney before 9/11. Before the terrorist attacks I didn't feel like I had to hide my Muslim identity. But now there is a show-cause relationship with an ever increasing silent but convinced society. That is sad. I have a nine-year-old daughter with an intellectual disability who is receiving tremendous help from different organisations. I choose to look beyond the things that divide us and talk about what unites us. That is what Islam teaches us: mutual respect, peace with another, wellbeing of all.

    A man made bomb sounds while I was shopping

    Heather Ali, 34, Brisbane

    I started wearing the hijab about three years ago and since then have been the victim of verbal abuse many times over. From being called a terrorist while shopping at Christmas to being verbally abused outside a church hall where we were running a cooking program. I have had a man oink at me. On another occasion a man followed me to the checkout making bomb sounds while I was shopping with my 13-year-old daughter. I've had an elderly woman tell me I shouldn't be allowed to wear that in this country while pointing at my scarf. I tend to brace myself for incidents of bigotry immediately after a terrorist event overseas is reported. Sometimes I fear even going to the chemist. I'm Australian born and the granddaughter of an Anzac yet in recent years I've felt less and less welcomed in my own country. Australia has become considerably more hostile towards visibly looking Muslims in recent years.

    There is always hope

    Zainab Hedayat, Sydney, Afghan

    Since the start of the conflict in Syria living in Australia as a Muslim has become quite difficult. Every time something happens involving an Arab or Muslim it ignites hatred, or at the very least, prejudice among the Australian population. It has become more common for me to hear about racial vilification and violence against Muslims in Sydney. I'm just waiting for the day when I have to endure an experience like this. It's a sad time, but there is always hope. I remember after the Lindt Cafe siege, the manager of a firm next to my workplace came to assure me that if I felt unsafe I could always rely on her and her colleagues for help.

    Chloe Green
    Chloe Green

    I avoid public transport with my children

    Chloë Green, 41, Sydney, British

    I'm scared that my children or grandchildren might end up in a concentration camp one day. I avoid public transport with my children because I don't want them to hear me being harassed. I have been harassed on public transport while an entire carriage full of people pretended not to notice. My children are still in primary school, but they know that extremism has nothing to do with Islam and everything to do with being violent criminals.

    Children have a right to peace

    Dal Ouba, 37, Sydney, Lebanese descent

    Being Muslim in Australia is emotionally exhausting because you constantly have to prove yourself to everyone. There are endless layers to break through every day before a genuine conversation begins. Travelling to work can be frightening. I have rejected work at prestigious universities because I don't feel safe catching the train there. All it takes is for one sick person to give you a complex. My son is nine years old and I would like to protect him from what's really happening in Australia and abroad as children have a right to have peace in their minds. I don't feel there's need to dump adult problems on a child's shoulders.

    Where is our protection from the white extremists?

    Ahmed, Melbourne, Lebanese

    I feel isolated, harassed, always looked down upon. Australia has become a very racist country. We Muslims have been living here for decades and help contribute to this nation's growth and within a split second we are deemed as terrorists. The media is to blame too. I tell my children how it is. That this country is turning on its own citizens. We are constantly asked to say sorry for actions of others. We are being pushed into a corner and forced to defend ourselves. Things have become much worse. Where is our protection from white extremists?

    Sami Ullah
    Sami Ullah

    I would rather be here than anywhere else

    Sami Ullah, 30, Melbourne, Pakistani

    I came here in 2006 as a student full of hope. My family spent everything they had on me to give me a better future. It was tough leaving my culture, friends and family behind. I remember being scared of landing here. I didn't know what to expect. But I shouldn't have feared. There was nothing that stood out and I just walked through immigration like a breeze. Now with ISIS and my skin tone I am usually stopped at airports and at check-ins. I don't mind. If it makes people safe so be it. I am not a conservative Muslim but a silent one. Everyone at work knows I am a Muslim. I have never been discriminated against or have been pointed out by people. But sometimes when people die back home or when things happen that are beyond my control, I can feel the stares. I feel that I have to apologise for the actions of people who do not represent my religion in any way. But this for a nascent country like Australia is a learning curve. I would rather be here than anywhere else in the world and look forward to one day being an Australian.

    Our image has been tarnished by governments

    Ibrahim Ali, Sydney, Kuwaiti-Lebanese

    I'm proud to call myself a Muslim Australian and appreciate what this country has done for me. But lately our image has been tarnished by governments, which are supposed to maintain the peace. I tell my children that these people who protest against mosques are scared and don't understand. I tell them we have to be good people and respect everyone no matter what their religion or race.

    It is hard to feel hated

    Ari, Melbourne

    It is hard to feel hated by the majority of people just because we practise our faith in a peaceful manner. We should not be painted with the same brush as extremists. We need a clean atmosphere for our kids and their future. I find it very difficult to explain to my children the actions of far-right groups. We try to avoid talking to them about it so they can stay positive about their future. My children tell me they can't practise their faith freely without someone making a comment or joke about them. Over the past 10 years the attitudes towards Muslims have gone from bad to very bad.

    I have to hide my beliefs

    Leila Hassan, Sydney, Egyptian

    It has never been easy living as a Muslim in Australia, but now I feel like I have to conceal my religious beliefs so that I am not discriminated against. It's unsettling to hear anti-Islamic sentiments coming from the mouths of people I thought were intelligent – some of them my own family and friends. I am constantly hearing people's Islamophobic opinions. Even at family gatherings. I'll check my Facebook feed and see that friends have liked "ban the burqa" memes or anti-halal pages. I've had cans and bottles thrown at me while dining at an outdoor cafe with women wearing hijabs. The thugs drove past twice and yelled, "Go back to Lebanon, ya tea towel heads." Even though we felt scared, we had to laugh because none of us were from Lebanon. I believe that it has become acceptable to be openly anti-Islam. It's disappointing to watch people I know believe everything they see and hear without bothering to do any research on their own. Even when I present them with all the facts, they still hold on to that fear and hatred. It's hard to unlearn.

    Rodoshi Hassan
    Rodoshi Hassan

    I haven't done anything wrong

    Rodoshi Hassan, 21, Sydney, Bangladeshi

    I have a lot of bottled-up anger. Every time I see my religion being vilified in the media, I have to look away or shut it down. I want to do something, say something, defend my religion, but I also don't want to have to do something. I shouldn't have to say something. I haven't done anything wrong.

    There is immense fear and hatred

    Naseema Mustapha, 46, Brisbane, South African Indian

    Arriving as a young migrant child, it was extremely difficult being a Muslim and someone of a non-Caucasian race and culture. Brisbane was very homogeneous and it wasn't until the 1980s that Vietnamese refugees and people of other backgrounds started arriving. Childhood as a Muslim was difficult; adolescence was even harder. In my attempt to assimilate I have lost my mother tongue, Urdu, and have deep regrets about that. I am finally very comfortable with my identity as a Mulsim. Islam teaches me to be moderate in all that I do, and find the balance within myself and my lifestyle. This is what I teach my children. Most of the time I hear positive things from my children. On rare occasion I hear about a negative experience my 12-year-old has at high school. Most recently a child was heard telling other boys in the playground not to hang out with anyone who is Muslim. There is an immense fear and even hatred for Muslims thanks to government policies, fearmongering politicians and some media.

    We are as Australian as any white person

    Ataman Atlas, 48, Melbourne, Turkish

    My children come home with stories of discrimination regularly. They have learnt from a very young age that "we" are different to the wider Australian community and that they are classed as "not" Australian. I explain to my children that we are as Australian as any other white person. But I tell them it is white non-Muslim Australia that focuses on our differences rather than our similarities. I tell them that anti-mosque protests are run by hateful, ignorant bigots who have no understanding of Islam and in all likelihood have never met a Muslim person in their lives. I talk to them about extremism and terrorism simply as power politics. That is, that certain individuals hide behind either faith or politics in order to gain control of resources and power. That somebody's terrorist may well be another person's freedom fighter. The most important thing is to make sure justice is given to all, that the point where justice ends is the point where chaos begins. At the end of the day terrorists and extremists are not created in a vacuum. They are the product of something. In most cases they are the product of underprivileged, oppressed people denied justice.

    Our mosque was firebombed

    Janeth Deen, Brisbane, Indian-German descent

    Islamophobia has been rife since September 11, 2001. The Kuraby mosque was the first mosque in the world to be burnt to the ground after September 11. Our mosque in Holland Park (the first established mosque on the East Coast of Australia) was also firebombed at the same time. We have had pigs' heads left at several mosques. The Toowoomba mosque was destroyed by fire. Our women have been discriminated against in job interviews if they are veiled. The list goes on.

    Asif Iqbal
    Asif Iqbal

    We only hear those who scream the loudest

    Asif Iqbal, 35, Sydney, Bangladeshi

    I am an optimist. I believe most Australians are good, welcoming people. As always, we only hear those who scream loudest. The week of the Parramatta shooting, Muslims in the area were still able to pray in their mosque. This, to me, is an amazing example of the freedom that Australia provides. Muslims do face a lot of criticism that is based on false premises or stems from a lack of knowledge. Ironically, these things have made me a better Muslim. They have made me challenge my beliefs and research more about my religion. My daughter is only two years old. I want to make sure she receives the correct Islamic teachings. That is the cure for extremism. In Islam, there is simply no room for harming an innocent person.

    You are judged for everything you do

    ​Roslyn, Brisbane

    To be Muslim in Australia is to be judged for everything you do. To worry whether people will be nice to me today or abuse me. I am Australian. I chose to become Muslim and wear the hijab. I have been stereotyped as being new to Australia, unable to speak English, uneducated (I have one degree and am doing another currently). At university I feel the most accepted, but step off campus and it is different. I have had more positive interactions than negative. But I have had someone attempt to run me over in their car as I crossed at a traffic light. I make sure I always follow rules. I have had a few people mutter comments as they walk past me. Most people aren't brave enough to say it loudly for anyone but me to hear or to say it straight to my face. As children of a Muslim convert my children can face more discrimination from within the Muslim community than from the non-Muslim community. They aren't real Muslims because their mum wasn't born Muslim. The prejudices of the parents are passed to their children.

    Linky ....
    Last edited by Roo; 9th June 2017, 08:01 PM.

    Education is what you get from reading the small print.
    Experience is what you get from not reading it.

  • #2
    Quote - I am an optimist. I believe most Australians are good

    No we ain't......phuck orf & don't let the door hit ya fat arse on the way out back to Sandniggerstan

    I just called, to say........go get pharked


    • #3
      Originally posted by Bucket View Post
      Quote - I am an optimist. I believe most Australians are good

      No we ain't......phuck orf & don't let the door hit ya fat arse on the way out back to Sandniggerstan

      I couldn't have said it better myself.

      Note: RWQ to keep BluesMan happy and content


      • #4
        Originally posted by BanditDave View Post
        I couldn't have said it better myself.

        Note: RWQ to keep BluesMan happy and content

        Some mistakes are too much fun,
        to only make once.


        • #5
          I'm a bit of a believe whatever you want to believe but don't push it on me, sort of a person.

          Now I was a man before the rise of feminism. There have been some changes. I've been verbally attacked for simply BEING a man, never mind voicing views. I have been subjected to "education campaigns" missed out on opportunities due to "affirmative action" - discriminated against in the workplace as it would be otherwise known, all in the name of feminism. I have been prevented from expressing views about the performance of my female colleagues workplace performance, never mind views about the workmate themselves. There are things which appear to be forbidden to me in the politically correct social environment which is a result of the changes which have occurred since the advent of the feminist movement. It prevents me from being "up front" about certain issues for example. How to provide a compliment without it being misinterpreted, never mind telling someone that they seriously "turn my crank". Don't even go there. I feel relationships are at risk, and of course potential relationships lose their potential. It has struck blows at the very fabric of social behaviour. It puts distance between people.

          The trick is to grow old. "Growing up" is less important than surviving.


          • #6
            Originally posted by Jstava View Post
            I'm a bit of a believe whatever you want to believe but don't push it on me, sort of a person.
            You should come up to play in the BIG smoke JS, for the monthly run of religious door knockers
            I just lurve playing wiv dem phuckers
            AND, their magazines make great masking for spray painting jobs too

            Originally posted by BanditDave View Post

            Note: RWQ to keep BluesMan happy and content
            Ah you're a good bloke BD
            Have yas noticed that BM can't find his way around a thread without RWQ ??? only since Blues Op
            I'm betting he's lost his bookmark on the floor somewhere
            Once he gets his apron on & lays off Blues meds, BM can find it when he's doin' the housework
            I just called, to say........go get pharked


            • #7

              where ISIS came from.
              Right and wrong is a very different thing from "Legal" and "Illegal"....Ed Snowden.


              • #8
                Bet most of the people complaining about being judged for their religion are happily voting to keep Jackie and I from being treated equally under the law preventing us having a civil union recognised.

                Do you know, one of the greatest problems of our age is that we are governed by people who care more about feelings than they do about thoughts and ideas? Now, thoughts and ideas, that interests me. - Margaret Thatcher


                • #9
                  Well, they're buying up big in neighbouring suburbs here, and they all seem to have the big quids.

                  There's a fair bit of 'spillage' too. I'm noticing more and more that homes around us that hit the market seem to be there for only a couple of weeks at most, and gornsky. At the asking price too. One in particular, way too close, sold for well over its market value. So, they're chipping away, and they gained approval for yet another mosque just a couple of miles down the same road.

                  Possibly good for us when we decide to sell, if we get the timing right.

                  It's the money that gets me. There just appears so much of it, I mean, to the point where it's almost obscene.

                  Anyway, the granting of approval for the mosque has put everyone on notice. Give it ten years or less and we'll be floating about in a sea of of black tidal garbage bags and white Mercedes Benz's.

                  Where to next? Buggered if I know. We built here 40'years ago, 'in the bush' and loved it. It's now like little Brisbane. A little house on wild untamed acreage sounds nice. Maybe set up our own republic with our own currency - roocents and roodars!!

                  That's the vibe, innit?


                  Education is what you get from reading the small print.
                  Experience is what you get from not reading it.


                  • #10
                    Two went to auction here over the weekend. Both to Muzzies. One is only 5 houses away and we expected, having some inside on the reserve, that it would be passed in. Terribly rundown small 3 bedder, 40 years old. We reckon a good 150k over the market at reserve. Went for 124k over the reserve. No BS. I kid you not. A shocker!

                    The other is up near the fruit shop. A few of you will know where I’m talking about. A nice home, but 750k would pull it up. It went for 976k. The auctioneer pressed hard to hold it out for the big number.

                    It won’t be 10 years. 5 I reckon and we’re looking about

                    A new mosque drags em in like flies.

                    Education is what you get from reading the small print.
                    Experience is what you get from not reading it.


                    • #11
                      الله يرافقك. نحن نجعل الجيران الجيدين. عندما سوف يبيع لنا منزلك

                      allah yurafiquka. nahn najeal aljiran aljaydina. eindama sawf yabie lana munzilik