The question of political engagement and whether or not to get involved is one which runs through the minds of many Australian Muslims today. What tends to be overlooked in this debate is the simple fact that politics is a necessary part of life, and lawmaking decisions should not entirely be left to the politicians. As citizens, who have been afforded the right to vote, we should consider utilising this opportunity to have a say in matters that are important to our lives.
The Muslim Political Action Group (MPAC) is a volunteer group of Australian Muslims who have identified challenges within the Muslim community regarding issues surrounding political engagement. Amongst these is the current reality that Australian Muslims are poorly represented in political matters. Hence, MPAC’s primary goal is to achieve equity within the political arena as well as fair representation.
Discussions on setting up MPAC began when numerous Muslim organisations, who operate within the Canterbury- Bankstown local government area, came together to discuss common concerns they had with restrictions placed on the use or improvements of their centres and the lack of support offered to their communities.
Since the city of Canterbury- Bankstown holds the largest number of Australian Muslims in the country, 71,894 (20.8%) according to the 2016 census, MPAC was set up as an independent committee to help enhance the Muslim community’s engagement in the political arena.
MPAC’s key objective is to encourage Australian Muslims to better engage with the political process, and its strategy includes:
i) Providing voter education;
ii) Increasing voter awareness;
iii) Facilitating community engagement with candidates and political parties on issues of mutual concern;
iv) Supporting candidates who are responsive to giving Australian Muslims a fair go;
v) Advocating on policy issues of concern to Australian Muslims.
MPAC is currently made up of twelve members serving in their individual capacities and not representing any organisation. The committee is seeking expressions of interest from members of the Australian Muslim community who wish to contribute.
The current members include: Dr Zachariah Matthews (Educator) chair , Sheikh Shady Alsuleiman (Imam) assistant chair, Billal Khoder (Teacher) secretary, Sh Abdussalam Zoud (Imam), Ashher Siddiqui (Business Analyst), Bilal Rauf (Barrister), Ertaz Chowdhury (Engineer), Mico Yustica (IT Engineer), Mohammad Alyatim (Fitness Trainer), Ramia Abdo Sultan (Solicitor), Usaid Khalil (Architect), Walid Saboune (Nurse).
For any further information on MPAC, email firstname.lastname@example.org or like the Facebook page @MPacAU.