Another day, another anti-Islam rally. May Allah grant hidayah (guidance) for every single one of the anti-Islam protestors.
It’s difficult to harbour hate for anti-Islam protestors. They’re the by-product of years of propaganda, fearmongering and of course those self-styled self-proclaimed clerics haven’t done the Muslim community any favours either.
I listened in awe as my friend who lives in Melbourne’s outer-west explain what happened to her earlier that week.
It was just after breakfast when a well dressed middle-aged woman came knocking on her door. “I thought it was a Jahovas Witness at first. Usually my initial reaction would be to just thank them and tell them I’m Muslim. I might not wear a headscarf but I observe my compulsory religious practices. Something in my gut told me to not mention I’m Muslim to this woman. I was shocked to learn she was actually looking for volunteers to attend an anti-Islam rally in the area. She then proceeded to tell me what a horrible person I am… well not me personally but all Muslims basically. She knew nothing about me and was so full of hate towards Muslims I was too afraid to tell her anything. I just politely told her I’m not interested and she left. I can’t believe they are now door-knocking for anti-Islam support!”
That week, on 28 August, an anti-Islam rally took place in Melton, in Melbourne’s outer west. It was organised by anti-immigration group True Blue Crew. Huffington post reports “Protesters at the rally are said to have waved flags, with speakers urging those present to prevent Islam growing in the area. They contend that a 75-lot development being built off Coburns Road in Melton South is a Muslim housing estate.” The local council has denied this housing claim. Nonetheless, lots of flag waving, shouting and men in balaclavas, and a huge waste of police time.
The truth is that flag they’re waving is the flag of 23 million Australians. That flag represents a wonderfully diverse population, rich with many cultural backgrounds, beliefs and perspectives. How ill-fitting to wave, what I identify as, my flag at an anti-Islam rally. If you’re looking to wave a flag that screams intolerance and hate towards people with a different view to your own, perhaps the ISIS flag is a more suitable option… Not that I’d encourage anyone to do that.
I can’t help but feel this misguided enthusiasm could be put to far better use. I challenge members of the True Blue Crew to have a human-to-human conversation with a Muslim. You’ll be surprised at how much you have in common. You’ll be surprised how little there is to fear. People are afraid of what they don’t know, things that are unfamiliar. Use the established Islamic resources in your area, not the self-proclaimed cleric online, as a platform to understand these people you claim to ‘hate’. Embrace your few differences and use your enthusiasm to build more peaceful, inclusive and compassionate communities for the generations to come. The world is only going to get more diverse. Even if we stopped immigration today, closed the borders, locked the gates, Allah guides whomever He wills. What will you do with the Anglo-white 10th generation Australians that embrace Islam? Or better yet what will you do with the indigenous Australians that embrace Islam? Have you thought this through?
On that note, I would like to extend an invitation to every Muslim to proactively represent Islam in the light and manner it deserves to be represented in. Don’t be afraid to mention your belief and speak up against those who misrepresent you. The media, the radicalised, the misinformed, will all portray you in the worst light. I’m yet to see A Current Affair make a segment on the positive contributions of Muslims towards their community. They always manage to find that one person who’s the worst example, and project it like that’s the norm. It’s not the norm. It’s insulting and embarrassing.
It’s time to get proactive. If you’re a student at university or a part of a youth group, liaise with your local Islamic organisation and organise an event, a stand, any platform that gives people an opportunity to ask about Islam.
If you’re good with writing, write! The pen is mightier than the sword. If you’re a blogger, vlogger, artist, use your platform to talk about what Islam means to you. Don’t be afraid to speak up and share this beautiful religion. Don’t allow the misguided few to represent the thousands of peace-loving Muslims of Australia.