Author: irfan-yusuf

The perils of being a minority writer

It’s a terrible conundrum. You enjoy writing and being published. But if you live in Australia or the US or any other Western country and come from a minority background, you only ever seem to get published when you write about your background. It has happened to me too many times. My first article in a “mainstream” publication was when I hacked into an imam for implying that women who dress a certain way may be “eligible for rape”.  The piece was published in the Sydney Morning Herald in April 2005. Now I‘m serving a literary life sentence of...

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Somalis are not all the same

As part of my doctoral studies, I interviewed young Muslims from Sydney. Some of my participants were from the African continent. One young Somali told me about how he was subjected to racism from Arabic-speaking Muslims in Lakemba. I thought of him when reading American Somali Abdi Nor Iftin’s 2008 memoir Call Me American. “Growing up with a huge number of Somali exiles returning from Saudi Arabia, I never understood why my mom and her parents dreamed of living in a place [Madinah] where Somalis are unwelcome. It would be many years before I realized that Somalis are pretty...

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Seeking knowledge in an outback Australian pub

It’s 10pm on a Thursday night 20 December and I find myself sitting in a pub in Broken Hill. The beer (and in my case, the Coca-Cola) is flowing freely as is the conversation. The couple next to me are accompanied by their adult son who is the same age as the bloke behind the bar. “I grew up here,” said the wife who works at the local hospital. “I love this town, but all the young people are leaving. One of my kids is studying in Melbourne. It’s just us oldies left. The town has nothing for them.”...

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The Moderate Muslim Message (Triple-M)

Dear Prime Minister, Sky News Australia (at night, at least) and Newscorp columnists. My name is Muslim. I am the leader of the Muslim community. Welcome to this event. Before I start, I want to reassure you all that we Muslims are opposed to all forms of terrorism. We wish to apologise for any terrorism done in the name of Islam. When a Muslim commits terrorism, it is always inspired by Islam. We are so lucky that we do not have mental illness in our community. This is what makes us so moderate. I have had my children undergo...

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Muslims in the West: A spicy blend indeed

  If you believe much commentary and political rhetoric about young Muslims, you’d think anyone aged 18 to 30 growing up in a Western country and identifying as Muslim shares a common genetic makeup. Even much of the academic stuff on this topic, especially that emerging from the counterterrorism “industry” (recipient of plenty of research grants and media attention) says pretty much the same. There are a few notable exceptions. One of them is UK scholar Dr Sadek Hamid’s 2016 work, Sufis, Salafis and Islamists: The Contested Ground of British Islamic Activism. The title itself displays a nuance arising...

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