I am not a Muslim but my partner is a Muslim.
Prompted by the Paris killings, this week I have been reflecting on conflict, violence, terrorism, war on terror, and Muslims in general and Muslim Australians in particular.
Every day around the world there are hundreds of murders and massacres taking place, every day there are also hundreds of examples of people helping charity and saving lives where possible.
As I have learnt in the past 2 years that Muslims have been in this country for over 150 years, coming with the early Australians and have been living here peacefully.
I have some facts for the people of Australia to consider before they speak about Islam, Muslims or Asylum seekers.
Select Causes of Death, Australia 2003 – 2012 (Source: 3303 Australian Bureau of Statistics and Australian Institute of Criminology, Compiled by crikey.com)
Car accidents: 8525
Domestic violence (estimated):850
Terrorism (1978-2014, so greater timespan) 113
According to the information above (A snippet of the full reported data) shows that terrorism clearly is not a huge killer within our country.
Between 2013 –2014 in Victoria alone police received 65,393 call outs to domestic violence incidents. It is clear we have many other issues to address and use our resources to address than overblowing the issue of terrorism.
Yes, terrorism is real, yes, it is killing people. However it is fair to assume that all races and all religions have one form or another of extremists.
Some additional information is given below in relation to Australian population.
Reflecting on a Nation: Stories from the 2011 Census Cultural Diversity in Australia, 2012-2013 (Source: 2071.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics)
Muslim population of Australia 2.2%
People of no religion in Australia 22.3%
Christian population of Australia 61.1%
Reclaim Australia and many Anti-Islamic groups are against institutes such as Mosques. With only 290 mosques in Australia I feel that people have developed a fear of Muslims because we do not understand them.
On Saturday 31 October Mosques around Australia held a Mosque Open Day. I challenge those who do not understand Islam or the difference between extremists and real Muslims to visit their local mosque and meet with Muslims, talk to them and participate in their events.
The Challenging Racism Project has revealed that over 60% of Australian Muslims have experienced Racism in the workplace or while seeking employment. Australia is a very multicultural country and needs to learn the facts and get a grip on this issue.
People have asked me “Why don’t the ‘good’ Muslims stand up against ISIS then?” I have a very simple answer for that. They do not stand up because of the public xenophobia they face every day. If they stand up they fear being called a terrorist themselves simply for being a Muslim, even while trying to stand up against extremism.
On the issue of asylum seekers, it is estimated that 80-90% who seek refuge are deemed genuine asylum seekers. That is by far the majority of those trying to seek refuge. It is not fair to punish those who are in no way associated with the violence and are in fact running away from violence.
The estimated Muslim population worldwide is 1.6 Billion people, making up around 22% of the world population. In Europe it is reported that less than 2% of the terror attacks committed in Europe have been religiously motivated, that means that even less than 2% the terror attacks have been caused by Islamic Extremists. That is 98% of terror attacks in Europe have been committed by people who are not religious or not Muslims.
The reason I used Europe is because Australia seems to associate with Europe, especially now that Europe has taken in many of the refugees from Syria.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, these are the definitions of some key words in this regard:
Asylum seeker: A person who has left their home country as a political refugee and is seeking asylum in another.
Refugee: A person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution or natural disaster.
Migrant: A person who moves from one place to another in order to find work for better living.
I encourage Australians to learn about the countries that Asylum Seekers are currently fleeing from.
As far as Paris, if ‘all Muslims were evil’ we would know. The population of Muslims in France is around 6 Million, if 10% of the Muslim population in France took part in jihadist behaviour that would be 600,000 jihadists. If only 1% of Frances Muslim population were jihadists that would be 60,000 and if even half a percent (0.5%) that is 30,000 jihadists. I am sure there is nowhere near 30,000 jihadists in France. If there were, then France in itself would be a war zone. There were less than 10 jihadists involved in Paris killings on Friday 13 November.
The events in Paris were acts of terrorism, devastating examples of terrorism. They however, do not represent Islam as a whole, simply as domestic violence perpetrators do not represent men as a whole (Though this number is far higher than the historic threat of terrorism faced in Australia). Xenophobia is a blatant fear of Islam and Muslims just because their belief and practices are different than yours.
As a country made up of mainly Christians, I feel it is a time for Australians to unite and take a stand against terrorism but it is also time to open our homes and support those fleeing from terrorism. Please, get to know your local Muslim community so that as a whole we can unite and stay safe as a country. We need to stand together.
Australian Bureau of Statistics, (2015). Reflecting on a Nation: Stories from 2011 Census Cultural Diversity in Australia 2012-2013. [online] Available at: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/2071.0main+features902012-2013 [Accessed 16 Nov. 2015].
Chronicle, (2015). Domestic violence more a threat than terrorism. [online] Available at: http://www.thechronicle.com.au/news/if-youre-looking-at-the-evidence-domestic-violence/2396758/ [Accessed 16 Nov. 2015].
Crikey.com.au, (2015). The real threat of terrorism to Australians, by the numbers â€“. [online] Available at: http://www.crikey.com.au/2014/09/04/the-real-threat-of-terrorism-to-australians-by-the-numbers/ [Accessed 16 Nov. 2015].
The Monthly, (2015). Home truths. [online] Available at: https://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2015/march/1425128400/jess-hill/home-truths [Accessed 17 Nov. 2015].
ThinkProgress, (2015). Less Than 2 Percent Of Terrorist Attacks In The E.U. Are Religiously Motivated. [online] Available at: http://thinkprogress.org/world/2015/01/08/3609796/islamist-terrorism-europe/ [Accessed 17 Nov. 2015].