Pass this on to all your friends…

Posted: 25 June, 2011 in My stuff
Tags: , , , , ,

This arrived in my regular email.  I could have deleted it, that would have been easy.  However, I was uneasy with what it was saying and how it was saying it.  So I ‘replied to all’!

My response is below…

There are 340 393 Muslims in Australia.  More than a  third of them were born here with 10% of them being third generation.  For the 1/3 born in Australia this is the only country they have known as home. 

There are almost twice as many Buddhists in Australia than Muslims.

While we tend to group all Muslims together, Muslims in Australia are in fact one of the most raciallyethnicallyculturally and linguistically diverse religious grouping in the country.  It has members from a huge variety of ethnic and racial backgrounds, including Anglo-Celtic Australian Muslims.

Prior to white occupation of the continent Indonesian Muslims had visited the north coast of Australia and had a long history of trading with the indigenous inhabitants.

150 years ago Afghan camel-men (actually they were from a  variety of nations and peoples from India to Persia)  came to Australia and provided an important contribution to the opening up of the inland and developing stock and trade routes across the country.  The first mosque built in Australia was constructed in 1861 at the southern end of the Birdsville Track.  The Great Mosque in Adelaide was built in 1888.

Under the White Australia Policy of the first half of the 20th Century Muslims from the Balkan States came to Australia, acceptable here because of their European ancestry and heritage.  A multi-ethnic Muslim community was drawn together in suburban Melbourne during the 50s and 60s.

In the late 60s and early 70s a number of Turkish immigrants came to Australia.  These were  the first  middle eastern Muslims to come to Australia after the earlier arrivals of the ‘Afghans’ and Turks.

The recent waves of immigration have seen Muslims from more than sixty countries settle in Australia.  The majority of these have come from Lebanon.  It is worth noting that Lebanese Christians that have come to Australia during that same period outnumber their Muslim Countrymen 3 to 2.

More recently we are seeing Somali Muslins coming to Australia as refugees following the civil war in their own country.

Many  individuals from a Muslim background no longer identify themselves as Muslim in Australian census returns or their daily life.

Lumping all Muslims together does not recognise the  ethnic or religious diversity among Muslims.  Like Christian Churches, Muslims are divided among themselves along ethnic and religious lines.

Identifying all Muslims  by the radical militants like Al-Qaeda or Jemaah Islamiyah that we so often see on the TV is  a bit like identifying Christians by the Ku Klux Klan or Westboro Baptist Church.  It is an unreal stereotype.

In regard to the upcoming census, by all means identify yourself as a  Christian if, in fact, you do identify as one whether it be nominally, socially or as a  regular attender.    That is what the census is for; to record the makeup of Australian society.  Likewise, Muslims will also state their identification as such (except, perhaps, for those who have fled dictatorial, right wing and often brutal regimes and still do not trust Governments to act transparently).  There will not be 1,000,000 Muslims doing so though.  There are not that many of them, be they Arab, Indonesian, European or Australian.

Yes, they may build a mosque in your suburb.  They have every right to do so, as long as it meets the planning bylaws of that community.  I would trust that for us, as Christians, that we would uphold their right to do so.

If we are concerned that we are losing our ‘Christian’ way of life then it falls on us to know and submit to the teachings of Jesus not to defend it by hindering someone else in the practice of their faith.  The early followers of Jesus won the hearts and minds of people from a huge range of cultures, backgrounds and beliefs, not by exercising power and control but by holding fast to their faith under the threat of the Empire, by serving the poor and by demonstrating their commitment to Jesus as both Lord and Christ.   Fudging the figures is no way to defend the Kingdom of God (if it is in fact the Kingdom of God that we are defending).

It is very easy to click the ‘forward’ button on emails such as the one mentioned at the top of this post.  Please don’t do what is easy; do a  little bit of homework before you forward other peoples’ posts, especially ones that have the appearance being in the public good – were ‘public’ looks remarkably  like you and I and ‘good’ is seen as defending our existing position, privilege and power.  Get the facts first.

Brian Pember

  1. Thank you so much for posting this. You have worded what I would so like to be able to say, and in a much better way than I could ever say it. Your post is one that I will definitely be sharing via Facebook and twitter. Thank you.

  2. Drew says:

    I’ve clicked the ‘Reply All’ to several email forwards, one in particular from my cousin regarding a speech supposedly by Edmund Barton.

    I’ll happily accept I was slightly less common-sense than your response and was in fact quite a lot more droll and sarcastic in my reproach.

    Suffice to say I no longer recieve his emails.

    I now wish I’d answered the email a bit more like yours!!

    • Brian Pember says:

      For evil to triumph all it takes is for good people to remain silent. Someone else said that of course; or something like it. If nothing else you have stood your ground and that not in silence! That may be enough to make someone out there unbeknownst to you to consider their own position and, possibly, make a shift.

      Yes, you may have been able to do it better but, then again, isn’t that true for all of us just about all the time. Learn from it. You will be better equipped next time.

      Colossians 4:6 (NIV)

      6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

  3. Chris says:

    Great response, great post.

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