The flexing of muscles by right wing extremists and bigots by organizing rallies, however small, and openly occupying public space is of great concern. 

As history has shown us, this is how xenophobia starts leading to hatred and finally violence against minorities.

The extremists seem to have received encouragement by way the Australian Liberal government lead by Mr Abbott has created an atmosphere of fear against perceived threat of terrorist attacks in Australia. It is sad to see that the Labor Party has not shown any leadership on this issue at all.

The alarming language used against ISIS, exaggerated threat of attacks by their supporters within Australia,  overemphasis on national security, rushing of anti-terror legislation one after the other during the past year has given oxygen to racists elements in our society to start an anti-Islam campaign.

Headlines on terrorism sells newspapers and therefore the media is complicit in creating this atmosphere of fear and insecurity. Vilification of Islam and demonization of Muslims by tabloid media and shockjocks has encouraged underground neo-nazis, bigots and racists to come out in the open in order to gain public support.

These are not good signs for a secure, peaceful and harmonious society that Australia is and should remain one. Conflict, division and violence does not have any benefits for any side. The quicker all parties understand this the better it will be for us in order to live in harmony.

The fact is that Muslims are an increasingly significant part of the Western society in general and Australia in particular. They will remain Muslims and followers of Islam and are here to stay. In spite of vilification of Islam, a large number of indigenous people in the West are choosing Islam as their religion. Thus number of Muslims in the West keeps on increasing.

Muslims should not be considered anti-West and should be embraced fully in all walks of life. Politicians should not use them as scapegoats to divert attention from their failings in order to gain votes.

On the other hand West is not anti-Islam. Muslims need to live in the West in general and Australia in particular as loyal citizens in harmony with its people. With the Muslim world in turmoil for decades, they need to realise that these lands provide the best means to live in freedom, peacefully with equal opportunity for them and their future generations. It is from here that they may be able to help fellow Muslims suffering in their own countries.

Since all Australians are equal before the law, Muslims need to live as full Australians, part and parcel of the greater Australian community. The negative concept of community within a community should be discouraged.

Muslims in Australia have a great role to play. They are not a problem but part of the solution for global understanding and world peace. By successfully integrating with the mainstream community, they would have the opportunity to contribute towards Australia as well as to the Muslim world to export a model for living in harmony.

The opportunity to use democratic institutions to address concerns and bring about change in a peaceful way should be adhered to rather than descent, protest and violence.

Z I Ahmad