Being Muslim in Australia A personal reflection

Essay by imteazHigh School, 12th gradeA+, June 2004

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How do I start? I as a Muslim love Australia as much as another Australian does. It's where I grew up, it's where my kids will grow up and it's where I'll most probably come to pass. There are so many things I love abut Australia, the people, the land and the lifestyle. It's a society where people from all over the world have come together and live in peace and harmony. In a subtle environment where every one gets along quite fine, seems as though it's Moore's utopia. However, there are many out there in society of whom wish to disturb this peace, this harmony and create cultural and religious differences that ultimately divide society and make it as though it's the "clash of civilisations" when it really isn't.

The experience of being Muslim in Australia has defiantly changed post 9-11. Before 9-11 most Australians did not know what a Muslim was nor did they really care.

But thanks to our media, most people either know something about Muslim or have an opinion on Muslims. My religion of Islam is so misunderstood and so taken out of context in so many cases in society, it hurts me as a person that people can make direct assumptions just by the actions of a few extremist people. What hurts me even more is that Islam goes to trial along with a Muslim criminal.

When I hear news reports stating things like: "Islamic Terrorism" or "Islamic Extremism", I feel confused in a way because to me it's an oxymoron. The actual meaning of the word Islam is peace and surrender, so what does peaceful terrorism look like? It reminds me of David Oldfield's rhetoric that "not all Muslims are Terrorists, but all Terrorists are Muslims". Okay, so the IRA and ETA are atheist movements?

I believe I speak for a lot of informed people when I say that the mainstream media has been overly critical when it comes to issues regarding Muslims and Islam. The effect of this is basically negative generalisations being made by the everyday person against Muslim and Islam, which is quite unfair and debases the idea that the media should give us a fair unbiased view on topics taking place in society. The media has should not be giving us a politicised or an opinionated outlook on issues, people should make their minds up about thing THEMSELVES.

When people of other faiths doing something criminal, to me in doesn't seem to me that their religious faith is as scrutinized compared to what it would be if they were Muslim. Like Timothy McVeigh wasn't a Christian Terrorist was he? Nor was Hitler a Christian Extremist, and ETA and the IRA are atheist movements. We all know the answers to these offcourse, but to other people whom are less informed the mainstream news is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, because they have no other alternative to turn to.

The big issue that took place in Sydney over the past few years was offcourse the Lebanese gang rape incidents. Only Monika Lewinsky and Bill Clinton had more air time than this whole media frenzy.

This is not to say that I or Islam are trying to defend the actions of these certain youth who committed these horrendous acts, for under Islamic law these criminals would not see the light of day for a very long time, most possibly never.

The problem that I have is that the amount of media/political attention these incidents received could not compare to what it would have been if the perpetrators were Muslim. A gang rape took place in Newington just a few months ago involving four men, who broke into a home and held the father and mother of the rape victim at knife point whilst raping their daughter continuously for two.

I would think that the majority of the people didn't hear about this incident, and what surprises me is that the media didn't go to the rapist's families or churches to interview them on their opinions on the matter. The media didn't even specify their ethnicity, and it was only on the TV news for only one day. Even the court hearings for the criminals weren't even shown on TV. Do you sense a (subtle) hate campaign against Muslims?

The last thing that I want to have a bitch about is that it hurts me as a person when I'm judge or criticised for my personal beliefs or thoughts. People instantly make judgements and criticisms of my opinions and views and disregard them because I'm a "bloody musoe". As a person I find it to believe how people can make extreme generalisations based on three minutes of news that they heard the day before.

I think that we should all be informed about the whole issue before we make judgements. People are innocent until proven guilty, not the other way round.