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Stoning the Aussie Mossie?

By Irfan Yusuf - posted Monday, 22 August 2005


Some conservatives find it impossible to accept that non-Christian religions can teach values consistent with the allegedly Christian values of mainstream Australia. John Stone seems to be among them. He writes, (On Line Opinion): "Our outstandingly successful wave of postwar immigration clearly passed that test. Equally clearly, Muslim immigrants more recently have not. Australians generally, I believe, have had enough of this."

Perhaps Mr Stone has not spent much time with his old colleague, Tim Fischer. I will never forget seeing Mr Fischer addressing over 20,000 Muslim Australians at the Multicultural Eid Festival & Fair (MEFF) in 1996. At the time, he was leader of the National Party and would soon become trade minister in the newly elected Howard Government.

Fischer was clearly of the view that Muslim Australians were an integral part of mainstream Australia. For some reason, John Stone disagrees with Fischer's assessment. And given the shallowness of Mr Stone's comments, it is clear he has not done his homework very well.

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When speaking about Australians being sick of Muslim migrants, which Australians is Mr Stone referring to? Is he referring to those millions of Australians who continue to have accounts with the National Australia Bank even after a Muslim Australian was appointed as their CEO?

Or is he referring to millions of ARL and AFL fans who continue to watch the games notwithstanding the generous support given to both codes by Muslim Australian John Ilhan? Has Mr Stone read Mr Ilhan's profile in the recent edition of the Australian Financial Review Magazine?

Ilhan is a mainstream Muslim and a mainstream Australian. The AFR Magazine writes that Ilhan "carries his Islamic faith with him everyday ... applying what he sees as basic tenets of honesty and integrity to his business".

And what are these basic tenets. First, there is "asking for forgiveness". Then there is loving one's neighbour as one loves oneself. He won't open an outlet next door to a competitor he knew, even if it be a former employee or a cousin.

Stone has clearly not read much about Muslim migration to Australia. Had he done so, he would have realised that Muslims have been dealing with Australia for longer than even European settlers.

Recently published research, by Professor Abdullah Saeed, of the University of Melbourne, and funded by the Department of Immigration, confirms that Muslim fishermen traded with Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders centuries before the first Europeans discovered New Holland. Indeed, outlines of Australia appeared on Arab maps dating back to the 12th century.

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Former Islamic Council of Victoria secretary, Bilal Cleland, an Anglo-Australian with ancestry going back to the First Fleet, has written and published a history of Muslims in Australia. Cleland's book covers the period from the Makassan fishermen, referred to above, and covers the period of post-war migration that included large numbers of Albanian and (then known as) Yugoslav Muslim migrants.

Cleland deals at length with the Cypriot and Turkish Muslims who arrived during the last decades of the White Australia Policy. The Turkish communities have by far the largest number of mosques and Islamic centres across Australia, including in regional cities and country towns.

Indeed, one Turkish Sufi Dervish (elder), Professor Mahmud Esad Cosan, is known to have established the first Sufi hospices in regional NSW. Professor Cosan was killed in a car accident in February 2001 after opening a hospice in Dubbo.

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About the Author

Irfan Yusuf is a New South Wales-based lawyer with a practice focusing on workplace relations and commercial dispute resolution. Irfan is also a regular media commentator on a variety of social, political, human rights, media and cultural issues. Irfan Yusuf's book, Once Were Radicals: My Years As A Teenage Islamo-Fascist, was published in May 2009 by Allen & Unwin.

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