Australian Muslims speak out against racism

Across the country on the weekend of 18-19 October, hundreds rallied against anti-Muslim prejudice. “I’m here to take a stand against the Islamophobia that’s being drummed up by the Australian government”, said Olga Ramahi who joined the demonstration at the State Library in Melbourne on 19 October.

Adel Sulman* attacked the government and sections of the media that have “taken the opportunity to spew forth their hate-filled messages”. Many Muslims now question whether they should leave their houses, for fear of being targeted, he said.

In Sydney, where protesters met at Sydney Town Hall, Lydia Shelly put names to the stories of street attacks against Muslim women: “It is Rashida who had hot coffee thrown at her in front of her children. It is Ayesha, the heavily pregnant woman verbally abused. It is Joanna who was approached by three men and pushed to the ground, had her hijab ripped off and was spat on.” Part of the Muslim Legal Network, Shelly is one of a group of people who started the Islamophobia Register to document recent attacks on Muslims.

“Examine the dusty pages of history and they will speak the truth. There has always been somebody, a group of people that are positioned or used in public debate by their government”, Shelley said. “Remember, the first step is to dehumanise people so you no longer see the Rashidas, the Ayeshas, me. You see shadows.”

In Perth, on 18 October, the anti-racists numbered 300 in the Murray Street Mall. They dwarfed a feeble collection of far right bigots who also turned out. Dr Rateb Jneid, president of the Islamic Council of WA, accused the government of attacking Muslims as a “cheap tactic” to justify a war.

Speaking in Melbourne, Abra Ahmed labelled the government the real threat. “It is not Muslims who have hundreds of military bases littered across the Western world”, she said. “It’s not Muslims who regularly go to war for political and economic benefits at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives and the destruction of entire countries.”

Marziya Mohammedali said that governments have a domestic agenda as well. Speaking in Perth, she said: “This is a distraction from the other bigger issues at hand, from the budget that is cutting our vital services. Islamophobia doesn’t just affect Muslims; it affects everyone who is here today and everyone in Australia. I am refusing to be a part of this distraction.”

Marching in Melbourne, Zouhair Ayoubi told Red Flag he appreciated that hundreds had taken a stand against Islamophobia. He thought more needed to be done. “It is a very small number for such a big subject”, he said. “I’m standing here with people against the terror laws and the scaring of the Muslim people … I think it’s very important that Muslim and Arab communities come out to support their rights.” 

 

* An earlier version of this article mistakenly asserted that Adel Sulman was from the Islamic Council of Victoria. Adel is not associated with the ICV. We apologize for the error.

Read more
A history of Black Power in Redfern
Oskar Martin

“The Black Power movement shook the world; it certainly shook the roots of this country.” 

The ALP and fake progressivism
Jordan Humphreys

As another Invasion Day approaches, the gap between public support for Indigenous rights and the endurance of racist oppression is striking. Just take the Don Dale youth detention centre in the Northern Territory. In 2016, the ABC’s Four Corners broadcast an exposé of the brutality inflicted upon the overwhelmingly Aboriginal youth locked up there. The public outrage that followed the program pressured the federal government into establishing a royal commission into youth detention in the NT, which concluded in 2017.

Why the British colonised Botany Bay
Why the British colonised NSW
Kyla Etoile

In January 1788, the eleven ships of the First Fleet made landing at what was later named Sydney Cove in New South Wales. The ships carried 1,373 people from Britain, around half of whom were convicts, to form the basis for the first colony in Australia. 

Merdeka! Australian workers and the fight for Indonesian independence
Australian workers and Indonesia
Yasmine Johnson

For 350 years, Dutch colonialism oversaw a system of brutal exploitation and repression in Indonesia. But in 1945, a mass movement defeated the colonial regime, despite the imprisonment, torture and execution of thousands of independence activists.

Why is public transport so crap?
Chris Giddings

After fourteen years, the Melbourne public transport ticket system, Myki, is being replaced. Most of us won’t miss it. Myki’s successor is unlikely to offer any real improvement to the severe inadequacies of public transport in Victoria. But looking back at the confusing and costly Myki system in its dying days is yet another reminder of just how illogical and wasteful capitalism is.

From crisis to catastrophe in China
Robert Narai

Video footage from late December shows elderly patients infected with COVID-19 on stretchers receiving oxygen stored in large blue bottles. They are being treated on the road outside the emergency department of Zhongshan Hospital, one of the largest in Shanghai.