To mark its 50th anniversary, Muslims Australia AFIC’s Executive committee resolved to hold a stellar event making sure that Australian Muslims stamp a lasting vivid impression on Australian politics and Australian society.
Muslims Australia AFIC celebrated its 50th anniversary on the 27th May 2014 at Australia’s Parliament House in Canberra.
This was the event where leaders of the opposition, the Hon Bill Shorten MP, put the final nail in the coffin of the highly controversial government proposal to repeal S18c of the Anti Discrimination Act projecting some of the concerns of Muslims and other Australians. The result was quick, the very next morning, Attorney General George Brandis QC made the announcement that he would abandon the move to repeal S18C.
This monumental event for Australian Muslims was marked by the attendance of Excellency the Hon Sir Peter Cosgrove Governor General of Australia and lady Cosgrove and more than 50 senators and members of parliament and ten ambassadors and diplomats representing different countries from around the world.
Keynote speaker, His Grace Bishop Kevin Manning outlined the very notable similarities between the teachings of Islam and the teachings of Christianity highlighting in particular the sharing of the five pillars of testimony of faith, prayer, fasting, charity and pilgrimage. Bishop Manning also highlighted our shared concerns about a humanitarian treatment of asylum seekers, the sanctity of marriage and family and the drive to promote peace on earth. Bishop Manning, the winner of the 2010 prestigious international Islamic Friendship Association of Australia prize “Champion of Cultural Inclusion” also highlighted the tremendous contributions of Muslim in the area of interfaith dialogue and the efforts by Vatican Councils over years to work together with Muslims in the field of mutual understanding and in seeking partnerships to better this world.
In delivering the Prime Minister’s message, Senator the Hon Concetta Fieravanti-Wells, congratulated AFIC, wished it well and conveyed the government’s support for diversity and the rights of all Australians and praised the contributions of Muslims and the friendships established.
Muslims Australia President, Br Hafez Kassem stressed to the members of parliament and the ambassadors in attendance, the crucial need to end violent conflicts in our world and to start by bringing a just end to the Palestinian and Israeli conflict. Br Hafez Kassem added that the world community must divert some of its weapons spending towards humanitarian aid. He said that instead of producing the means of destruction the world community must produce means of saving lives and the environment. President Hafez Kassem concluded his speech by asking the guests to hold hands and make a prayer to God to bless Australia and its people and to bring peace on earth.
His Excellency Nabil Al Saleh, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia also congratulated AFIC and wished it well and praised its contributions to Australian society and in particular to Muslims in Australia and elsewhere.
The event honoured a small number of brothers and sisters who have contributed to Australian society over the years, especially, his eminence Sh Taj Aldin Alhilali, the first Mufti of Australia. Sh Alhalili held the post for 18 years before handing the post to the National Imam’s Council which he established in 2007. Sh Alhilali travelled to war torn Iraq in 2005 to procure the release of Australian hostage Douglas Wood at tremendous risk to his personal safety.
The evening saw performances from the Islamic College of Canberra choir singing the Australian national anthem, Matilda House performing the a welcome to country and nasheed by Ali Nabulsi and Stephanie Kurlow from the Australian Nashid and Arts Academy.
AFIC Secretary Dr Shahabuddin Abdullah drew tremendous applause when he asked in his word of thanks the MPs present to convey a message to the government that we must protect the rights of minorities, we must protect Medicare and its universality and we must keep education affordable.
The president of the Australian National Imams Councils, Dr Abdel Aziem Afifi concluded the evening with a prayer to Allah Almighty to keep Australia safe and secure and to grant us the wisdom and compassion to do more for the betterment of our world.