An Open Letter by an everyday Muslim to Australia
I’ll start by quoting the words that prompted this letter. Below are the comments of a man on talk back radio responding to my views that broad brush strokes about Islam and Muslims are further dividing this nation and parts of the western world giving rise to far right wing parties.
“Are Muslims superior to non-Muslims? Is it alright to criticize Islam? Is it alright not to agree with everything in the Quran? If they [Muslims] answer them truthfully they will either be condemning themselves or they will prove they are not true Muslims. These nice Muslims in Australia, if they get to the numbers as in some other countries, will they still be as nice? The ones in England go demonstrating with signs saying behead those that insult the prophet. The people who are here at the moment, the Muslims who are only a small minority, if they get the same weight of numbers, would they condemn such behavior or would they join it? The problem is simply one word…Islam. Western leaders don’t have the stomach to do what needs to be done.” (Caller identifying himself as Bill, a nominal Christian - to 2GB radio station)
If you don’t find this man’s comments troubling like I do, then you have given in to fear. Fear causes someone to isolate and attack minorities. Try an experiment; replace the word “Muslim” with “Jew” or “Christian” in the above quote. Is it feasible to be that broad now? But even this experiment is treated as folly by conservatives and bigots because they would argue that Jews and Christians are not committing acts of terror around the world. But wait, there was a time Jews were blamed for terrorism in Europe just prior to WW2. That terrorism was called ‘communist terrorism’ by the tabloids and leading elites. And there was a time Christians were blamed for committing an act of terror against Rome by Emperor Nero in 64 A.D. Both the Jews of Europe and the early Christians of Rome suffered catastrophic consequences.
Everyday Muslims – who are we?
So, what is an everyday Muslim? Let me explain before the main point of this letter is raised. To me, an everyday Muslim is a regular person much like anyone else. I live my days and nights filled with the same activities as you might do; working to put food on the table, paying bills, going to gym, sharing a meal with family and friends, dreaming about my future, worrying about whatever number of things, doing my taxes and giving back to my community where I can. Now onto the point!
The constant threat of terrorism by groups like ISIS has predictably improved the position of right wing and extreme right wing parties in western countries by fueling their hate speech and vitriol. This narrative does not bode well for most everyday people but even more so for an everyday Muslim like me. Let me explain. History tells us that similar scenarios have ended in a very dark place. Germany elected a fascist far right party led by Adolf Hitler in 1933. In the years that followed, European Jewry were blamed for the economic, political, social and cultural woes of Europe. Europeans were led to believe that Jews were largely responsible for communist terrorism and were a major threat to the nations of Europe. As reports of arson, bombings and attacks like the Reichstag fire (1933) by communist terrorists hit the press in Germany and throughout Europe, Jews were targeted as the main source of this ongoing threat to European culture and values. Does this sound familiar?
It’s clear that Muslims are being held responsible for Wahhabi terrorism in the same manner. Western media and leadership are either unwilling or ineffective in making the distinction, in most cases deliberately blaming Islam and Muslims for terrorism in a cycle of hate filled propaganda similar to the fascist propaganda of 1930s Germany and other axis nations.
Islam and Muslims are being accused of many things by right wing conservatives and radicals. It is important to note here that their main opponents in the debate are left wing progressives like the Labor party and radical environmentalists like the Green party and other far left groups like the socialist alliance here in Australia. The right and left lash out at each other on opposite sides of the Islam debate, however I have no seat at this table. I am sick of being spoken for and about and not directly spoken to.
In light of this endless cycle of hate politics in Australia and the recent election of One Nation, which has clearly taken up the anti-Islam banner and a hardline policy approach, I propose 2 options:
Option 1 - Everyday Muslims are to be invited to the conversation to work together with other parties wanting to keep the peace, standing against terrorism and radical elements in Australia and other western countries that have this problem. Note: The grand mufti and the Islamic council do not qualify as everyday Muslims in this context, and have proved ineffective in communicating with the people they supposedly represent, us. Until I learn more about these individuals, they will be treated as unknowns.
Options 2 - This option will eventuate if the first one does not. If everyday Muslims like myself are not included in the process and given a chance to contribute, logic suggests that the cycle of hate will continue and the bickering between conservatives and progressives will further alienate the rest of us. I, of course, reject this outcome and refuse to be led down the same path that European Jews were led down. For this reason, option 2 will involve the establishment of Migrants for leaving Australia. Applications will be taken by interested migrants, Muslim or otherwise, and preparations will be made to return to our respective countries within a practical timeline. Bear in mind that any application received by a known radical or terrorist will be refused. We will rely on law enforcement to assist our vetting process. Each application will be assessed and approved based on there being no history or association to extremism or criminal activity of any kind. The main point of this idea is to free decent people in minority groups from persecution and scapegoating once and for all. Once applicants are approved they will be processed for departure once the conditions for leaving are met by the necessary departments and government bodies.
These conditions need to be met before anyone leaves.
Western governments will end the costly theatres of war in Syria and other parts of the Middle East. All hostilities must cease before people can return safely. Our primary concern is the safety of those who wish to return home.
Munitions and armament companies and manufacturers will be investigated for links to funding terrorist organisations. If found guilty steps to be taken to indict and shut down their operations.
Sanctions to be placed on individuals and countries funding and supporting ISIS and other terrorist groups, in particular, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Israel.
A Middle Eastern Marshall Plan will be drafted to rebuild Syria, Iraq and other devastated countries and all illegal sanctions lifted to allow trade and the rebuilding process to run smoothly.
A fund will need to be set up to ensure applicants can return safe and sound with the necessary financial assistance to resettle their families.
Once it is safe to do so, approved migrants will start returning home. This outcome, on the surface, will please conservatives in Australia and the rest of the western world as you will be rid of Muslims. However, the problem of Wahhabi extremism and terrorism will remain in the west. The “nice Muslims” that Bill from the radio fears could one day grow into a threat are the ones leaving. And Bill, we were never a threat, we were an important ally against a common enemy. The purpose is to restore dignity and equality for decent people - everyday migrants and Muslims. However ambitious this idea sounds, it is becoming a necessary talking point and option, as long as the fear peddling and divisiveness grows here.