Posts Tagged ‘islamophobia’

Peter Dutton is Australias official Immigration Minister and has recently come under fire for some of his statements about immigration in this country. He recently spoke out in parliament being very critical about former Prime Minister Malcolm Frasers decision in the 1970s to allow an influx of Lebanese and Muslim refugees from “rural areas” into Australia because the newest generation of Lebanese Muslim youth appear to be terrorists or conspirators of terrorism.

Now before i am found guilty of quote mining and misrepresenting Mr. Dutton, let us see exactly what he says because right after his statistics of fear he does provide a little disclaimer – albeit in the wrong order- before he is jeered by the opposition party. Mr Dutton says:

I thank the leader of the opposition leader for his question, if i said that i have….out of the last 33 people who have been charged with terrorist relations in this country- 22 of those people are from second or third generation Lebanese Muslim background. I’m not going to allow people who are hard working, who’ve done the right thing by this country, who have contributed, who have worked hard, who have educated their children- I’m not going to allow these people to be defined by those people who are doing the wrong thing and who have been charged with terrorist offences, or who are involved in crime otherwise.

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Were Peter Duttons comments necessary or beneficial?

Did Mr. Dutton state the truth statistically? Well yes he did, those numbers do appear to be accurate and of course we should all be concerned about the safety and security of our entire Australian community. Yet when we look at the maths behind these statistics we find a number that is so underwhelming and irrelevant that bringing this up in Parliament appears to have been nothing more than a political push to promote our dwindling past, current and future dealings with refugees and immigrants.

You see approximately 200,000 people fit within the mould of second and third generation Lebanese in Australia. Twenty Two is the number of those charged with terror related offences. Divide the numbers up and we find that 0.011% of the entire second and third generation Australian Lebanese community have been involved in terror offences.

That is right, our immigration leader is speaking out against a former prime minister for letting in these Muslim Lebanese populations in the 1970’s because it appears they produced 0.011% of the terror related population in this country today.

As a matter of fact Peter Dutton statesThe reality is Malcolm Fraser did make mistakes in bringing some people in, in the 1970s, and we’re seeing that today. We need to be honest in having that discussion. There was a mistake made.

You see this is where his statement hits home hard and heavy for me personally. Although i am only half Lebanese his comments do offend me and my family. Mr. Dutton is talking specifically about my fathers generation and my generation. He is addressing both my Father and I. A Lebanese, Muslim man from “rural Lebanon” who came to this country with his family in the 1970’s during Malcom Frasers leadership. Calling my fathers migration to Australia a “mistake” is essentially calling ME a mistake. His comments almost negate my existence, it is like Mr. Dutton is pointing his finger at me saying he wishes i weren’t here and that i was a mistake, along with my father. Not exactly the welcoming language you’d expect from an immigration minister.

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My Father and I- 1985. Two direct recipients of Mr. Duttons criticisms. A 1970’s Lebanese Muslim Immigrant and a Second Generation Child.

Peter Duttons argument is basically this. We should have not allowed Muslim Lebanese people from “rural Lebanon” into Australia because a few generations later they would breed little potential terrorists. That would be like me saying we should not have allowed Anglo Saxons into this country because a few generations later they would wipe out almost the entire Aboriginal population of Tasmania. Or they would later be responsible for the most drink driving deaths on the road”.

Would it be fair if Mr. Dutton made his comment like this? “Out of the last 100 people who have been charged with drink driving in this country – 60 of those people are from second or third generation Anglo Saxon Australian background.

This is where his little disclaimer fails him abundantly and even though members of his party have defended him saying he is being taken out of context, he clearly is not. His statement worked within this format. Firstly he speaks to the media and insults a former Prime Ministers handling of immigration calling his acceptance of Lebanese Muslims a “mistake”. Then in parliament he hits us with a  “statistic” which reveals a dismally small percentage of his case study. Then he says BUT we cannot allow this minority to represent the majority.

You cannot negate your clear fear mongering via the media and the parliament using extremely explicit language about a very distinct community relating to both race and religion to the Australian parliament and people within this hostile climate – and then in the end say “We cannot allow the minority to represent the majority” when very clearly your statements show you are allowing the minority to represent the majority.

The fact is highlighting these figures and statistics even though they are factual is absolutely unnecessary. Do you see anybody relating to figures in regards to any topics when the total number of their example is 0.011%? Imagine if parliament spoke about every issue highlighting such statistics? It’d be tossed up and trashed in any market of academia yet suddenly it’s okay for our Immigration Minister to push these statistics of fear?

 

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I thought we were moving forward from this? Cronulla Riots. 2005.

Look the Lebanese community and the Muslim community are far from perfect, the bad apples exist just like in all communities. Yet My father, myself and the majority of my family who are of Lebanese Muslim background are contributing members of this society and i will never accept being labelled a mistake. My father came here with little English, low education from the cesspool of civil war and has established himself well here. I myself am another example of this generation that Mr. Dutton seems to look at with suspicion and tunnel vision.

I do believe what Mr. Dutton said was irresponsible and he can scream out “facts” all he likes but his position comes with a responsibility for the people. He needs to ensure that he is unifying and not dividing. His language, statements and comments about the Lebanese Muslim community in particular have been detrimental to our current social climate.

Eleven years ago we had people on a beach chanting “Fuck Off Lebs” after a race riot and we have worked so hard within the decade to bridge that gap and come together as first and foremost Australians. Yet forgive us for feeling a little uncomfortable with being labelled as “mistakes” by our own immigration minister. I think the only mistake is your own irresponsible rhetoric in parliament. 

Salam
R.E

Just a couple of days ago there was a terrible knife attack at a Hostel in Queensland, Australia . The victim was Mia Ayliffe-Chung,  a 21 year old British National who was stabbed by a 29 year old French Backpacker Smail Ayad.  The tragic murder sparked suspicion of extremism because the attacker yelled “Allahu’Akbar” (God is Great) whilst attacking the victim and whist being arrested.

This immediately caused a media stir with all major media outlets hastening to call this a “terror attack” on Australian soil because of the attackers use of “extremist language”.Yet the Police have already cleared this crime as a Murder based on jealousy and not at all terror related, regardless of what he shouted out.

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French National Smail (inset) attacked and killed Mia in a small hostel community in Queensland while shouting “Allahu’Akbar”.

Despite the Police commissioner being very quick to clear this act from terrorism– claiming there is no evidence at all that this man was radicalized- we see that xenophobic politicians immediately used this case as a means to loudly call – yet again- for the banning of Muslim Immigration of Australia claiming that “terror” and “jihad” has hit our shores simply because a man is shouting “Allahu’Akbar“.

A lot of people don’t realize that the term “Allahu’Akbar” (“God is Great”) is widely used in the Muslim community for a huge array of reasons, yet there is a disturbing trend i am noticing about the statement. Both extremists and bigots are taking the statement from the general Muslim population and are turning it into a phrase that one should fear.

Just to remind you that hearing someone say “Allahu’Akbar” is not all doom and gloom- i will present to you 9 other examples where “Allahu’Akbar” has been used for something
besides violence, hatred and bloodshed.

1) “Allahu’Akbar” Used Whilst SAVING lives.
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In this video footage in Aleppo, Syria- filmed in January 2014 we see a bunch of men unearthing a child from the rubble of a destroyed building. After doing all they can they chant “Allahu’Akbar” (God is Great) whilst holding the child after the rescue.

In fact there are multiple videos online showing the phrase being chanted whilst people are SAVING lives (as opposed to taking them.)

2) “Allahu’Akbar” during the call to PRAYER.
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If you’ve traveled to any country in the Middle East you may have noticed mysterious and mesmerizing voices coming out of the minarets. This is called the Call To Prayer and the very first line is “Allahu’Akbar”. This call is to remind Muslims to stop what they are doing and go to prayer.

3) “Allahu’Akbar” used in Music (and Nasheeds).
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Popular Muslim artists such as Sami Yusuf use the popular phrase in many of his songs including the popular hit “Asma Allah” which has almost 14 million views on Youtube. The term is an expression that is popular in many “Nasheeds” or songs that glorify.

4) “Allahu’Akbar” used to support Sportsmen/Women.
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Marathon Runner Mo Farah did the United Kingdom proud during the Rio Olympics this year- yet during one of his practice Marathon Runs in London in 2014 spectators of his could be heard shouting “Allahu’Akbar” at him in support for him to win.

5) “Allahu’Akbar” used by a talkative Parrot.
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Nothing to see here – simply a Parrot that shouts out “Allahu’Akbar” whilst raising his foot, simulating a Muslim rising during prayer.

6) “Allahu’Akbar” used in Awe of Nature.
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Many times during extreme weather events, or witnessing natural marvels- including the one featured in this video-  you will hear Muslims shouting “Allahu’Akbar” to symbolize Gods strength and power.

7) “Allahu’Akbar” used to celebrate Success.
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Sonny Bill Williams is a very popular footballer in Australia who converted to Islam a few years ago. During one of his wins he publicly declared on live television “last but not least, Allahu’Akbar!” whilst pointing to the sky.

8) “Allahu’Akbar” used during last moments in life 😦
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Adam Air- an Indonesian Airline was plummeting to the sea at rapid speed in 2007 due to Mechanical failure and the Black Box in the Cockpit clearly records the flight crew praying in fear as they realize they are helpless against this crash- shouting “Allahu’Akbar” until their final second on Earth.

9) “Allahu’Akbar” used when one converts to Islam.
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People from around the World Convert to Islam and after one states the Shahada (testimony of faith) they are met with a smothering of hugs and the famous “Takbir” which is proclaiming “Allahu’Akbar” (God is Great) out loud.

So there you have it, that was 9 other times you may have heard the term “Allah’u Akbar.” Please do not be like the media and ONLY associate the phrase with violence, bloodshed and evil behaviour. The bottom line is this statement is made by Muslims on a daily basis and we do not want extremists AND the media to Hijack this word and use it as a mouthpiece for evil.

Salam Alaykum, PEACE! 🙂

 

So last night i decided to pay visit to my personal favourite spoof News website called News.com.au. Oh wait, that is actually meant to be a reputable Australian news source that is viewed by Millions of Australians and International guests on a daily basis, great.

First thing that caught my eye was the scary image of Jihadi John. The ISIS member from the United Kingdom that was infamous for his brutal beheadings. Yet what was even more frightening than staring at this terrorists eyes was the article headline that read “Chilling letter predicts WW3 (World War 3) with Islam.”

The summary of the article underneath the image and headline read “A scarily accurate letter that predicted World Wars 1 and 2 also claimed that a third global battle would be fought between the West and Islam“.

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The article that plagued Australian News sites last night. “Chilling letter predicts WW3 with Islam

 

First of all you cannot be at war with “Islam” for it is not a monolithic universal entity. The more frightening reality is that the only realistic thing you could be at war with, as subjects, are Muslims- not Islam.

Reading this article shocked me because it was used to evoke fear and this article is dangerous because it already empowers war mongers to become more thirsty for this “predicted war” and it reaffirms to many crazies out there that this “war” is inevitable and the famous US VS THEM mantra will rear its ugly head.

As a matter of fact this US VS THEM ideology is already in full swing– hence such a low brow article is basically fodder to these dangerous people. Yet the most terrible thing about this entire article was that- besides it being simply a tool to stir up more fear and division in a society that is already on the brink– is the fact that this supposedly “accurate letter” that predicts a “war with Islam” is nothing but a hoax and it has been recognized as a clear hoax for at least 5 years now.

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Albert Pikes is the supposed late 19th century Author of the “3 predicted wars”.

Yet last night,  News.com.au along with other classy press toilet wipes like “The Daily Maildecided to publish it anyways. That’s right, a known hoax has made it to the front page news as a “scarily accurate” prediction- coming to you very soon!!

This supposed letter was apparently written by Free Mason Albert Pike in the late 1800’s. Apparently this man managed to speak about groups and movements that existed many decades later like “Nazism”. His letter talks about the fall of Christendom, the final battle with Islam and the New World Order. Such dramatic visionary comes with this letter, yet the fact of the matter is there is no prime or formal source of this letter in its original form, it simply does not exist.

All of the quotes from this supposed letter are quotes of quotes of quotes that trail back to absolutely nothing. There is not a single clear cut source for this letter that we could trace back to today, yet our news outlets in the year 2016 believe this is an important news article that the world must know about.

What will always stand true though is that the Governments and the Media are definitely buddies in promoting societal dysfunction and warfare. Considering the current climate we live in now with the refugee crisis, right wing leaders, ISIS and our military involvement overseas the last thing we need are our “reliable” news sources telling us that World War 3 is coming and Islam is enemy #1.

 

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Fear works. Donald Trump is rising in popularity.

Even worse is that this News Breaking article comes with no actual source, trace it back and all you will find is thin air. Something that is vacating the minds of our journalists today, all air- no brains. The sad fact is most people would be too lazy, careless or unmindful to further research such ludicrous statements spread by our news outlets. As a matter of fact such articles could only act as an “I told you so!” to many bigots in our society who already are suspicious and hateful towards their fellow Muslim countrymen and women.

There will be no war with “Islam” and there already is a war with Muslims. A war people like me are fighting every day by correcting our News Sources, who have absolutely no problem with quite literally peddling warfare and promoting the narrative of a “final battle” between Islam and the West.

So protect your men, women and children because apparently World War 3 is coming and Islam is coming for you too! Who told me so? The airheads at News.com.au- that’s who!!

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Peace, SALAM (PS- just kidding- cant wait to kill you)

مرحبا والسلام.  <— Does this scare you? I’d certainly hope not because i just greeted you and wished you peace, in Arabic. You see just over 48 hours ago all schools in a county of Virginia, the United States were shut down because a school received so many complaints from angry parents about a Geography Lesson aiming at explaining the complexity of Arabic Calligraphy. The school used the Islamic Shahada (Testimony of Faith) as an example of its complex structure.

The Shahada or testimony of faith in Islam states “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his Messenger.” The fact is the school was dealing with language and religion and used quite a specific and important language slogan that details the complexity of the calligraphy, whilst also highlighting the religious importance behind it. Yet many parents and students felt they were being indoctrinated and somehow forced to submit to Islam by simply learning how to write beautiful calligraphy.

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This homework on Arabic Caligraphy shut down all schools in a county of Virginia.

The angry backlash caused every school in the county to shut down due to security threats and fear of negative repercussions- all because this alien language and religion was used as a study topic in a school. Seems nonsensical but not in modern day America it isn’t. Especially with the likes of Donald Trump getting more TV air time than anybody of higher significance – we are seeing such fear and hostility is spreading into the communities.

Only weeks ago a woman was attacked in an Applebees restaurant in Minnesota, the US. 43 year old Jodie Burchard-Risch was so disgusted that a fellow diner in the restaurant – Ms. Asma Jama was speaking with her family in Swahili that she yelled “In America you speak English” then physically assaulted her by smashing a beer glass on her face.

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Asma Jama (right) was attacked at an Applebees restaurant in Minnesota for speaking Swahili.

One must beg the question, what is it with this obsession that you “must” speak English and why does it disturb so many people that others speak another language in public? Why must you understand what others are saying when they are in fact not speaking to you? Are there any laws in the United States that claim it is illegal to publicly speak another language? All of these are pressing questions for the ones that have a burning ear when they hear something besides English.

Yet this isn’t only an American problem.

Yesterday here in Sydney, Australia we have the case of a woman on a train abusing another lady who was speaking Spanish to her mother on the phone. A middle aged “Australian” woman decided to hurl verbal abuse at the young Natalie Soto for daring to speak another language in public besides English.

We speak English in this country. If you can’t speak it in public don’t speak it at all.” – Said the angry patriotic woman who had such an itch for Spanish that it somehow forced her to speak out in disgust. “Speak it in your own home, don’t speak it in public” – she continues.

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This woman verbally assaulted a fellow passenger on a Sydney train for speaking Spanish. Telling her to “Go home”.

What is odd is that this woman, amongst all the others who hold no tolerance for Multi-Lingual speakers could even come up with a logical excuse on why the other party should stop. It is not against any Australian law. It is absolutely harmless. Most times another language sounds beautiful and exotic and really highlights what a vibrant multi-cultural society we live in.

You see Australians who have huge issues with others not speaking English do not have a leg to stand on. The major problem is that i can assure you none of these bigots could speak even one of our many Native Aboriginal languages that existed in abundance before their colonial ancestors stepped foot on this land. It would only be fair that if they say all “others” MUST speak English in Australia, that then indeed all English speakers MUST speak one native Aboriginal language.

Claiming that we “Only” speak English in this country is wrong. You see this country has a history that spreads further than our 230 year Colonial history. Rewind that tape to find that Australia, before any explorers settled the area already had multiple peoples and languages within it. Many of which became extinct and depleted once settlers and prisoners came in. Yet i have never seen or heard of a single Aboriginal person telling me i MUST speak Dharug (the Native language of Sydney). Yet what i do hear loud and clear are post colonial “Australians” yelling at anyone who does not speak English- a language that is actually FOREIGN to Australia itself.

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Above: All languages spoken in Australia prior to English Settlement 230 years ago.

This all falls back with another example of the Media onslaught of the Grand Mufti of Australia Mr. Ibrahim Abu Mohammed who speaks very little English. People seem to focus more about the language than what words are actually being used. I’d rather someone tell me they Love me in French than they hate me in English. The bottom line is its not necessarily the language itself, it is how we use the language and what we say.

The Grand Mufti of Australia has openly denounced terrorism, loud and clear on multiple occasions in Arabic and with English translators. Yet there was no applause for condemning terrorism, instead there was dismay that he was not speaking English.

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Grand Mufti of Australia (left) publicly denounces terrorism, yet gets yelled atfor not doing it in English.

I really think people are missing the point….

Peace, Salam 🙂
Ramio1983

Ramey, you cannot be half Muslim and half Christian, you can only be one“…These words echoed by my Religion teacher Mrs. Young at my former High School in 1998 had to have been one of the most earth shattering, mind boggling and mentally challenging words i had ever heard at the tender age of 15.

You see, i had a very interesting upbringing. I was raised in a household that was interfaith. My Mother of Croatian ancestry is a Christian whilst my father of Lebanese ancestry is a Muslim. Their marriage in the late 1970’s caused shock-waves through both communities and families from both sides couldn’t understand it, due to the supposed “taboo” of it all.

Not only two very different cultures but also two different religions. What about the children? would be the cry of concerned relatives from both ends of the spectrum, little did they knew this upbringing of mine was one of the most healthiest and happiest when it came to tolerance and understanding.

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My brother hugging me under our Christmas tree. 1983.

So what was it like growing up in a household where i was both exposed to Christian and Muslim elements? Let me be honest. Pretty amazing! I truly looked forward to every Christmas and decking out that tree, helping my Mother decorate it and turning it on every night ensuring it faced a window so our neighbours could get tree envy!

I remember the excitement of sitting under the Christmas tree with all of those amazing colours shining on the floor and my obsession with the Christmas tree Angel we used to have sitting on top with her glittery halo and roughed up blonde hair. There was something so euphoric, beautiful and heartfelt about this time of the year and my house felt like a sanctuary.

Then came the period of Ramadan, the month long Muslim Holy month where Muslims are told to fast, read the Quran, pray and give to charity. Growing up i always remember being in complete awe as to how my father could refrain from food and water for long periods of the day. The unifying factor was dinner time, come sunset- we would all converge over a delicious feast that my mother would make up and my father would listen to the radio waiting for the Adhan (call to prayer) to start before we’d enjoy our usually eccentric over the top dinner.

Then came the “Eid” festivities where all the family from my Dads side would dress up in their best attire, head over to cafes and restaurants and enjoy time with family and friends. The vibe of the streets in our area during Ramadan was buzzing with excitement and energy, it truly was a beautiful time of the year that i grew further fond of .

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My too cool for school parents 1970s’.

Yet then came that moment, when i was happily 50% Christian and 50% Muslim in my own eyes- where all of that fantasy came to a sudden crash. When my High School Religion teacher asked me what religion i was- i stared her right in the eyes with a big smile and said “I am half Christian and half Muslim” – assuming that was a perfectly acceptable answer. She glared at me and smiled telling me that indeed my “beliefs” are in pure conflict and that i cannot be both, i had to pick one. This was when my perception of religions and the religious changed, almost like a perversion entered my mind about the life that i was living and it was time to reflect. She had basically told me my religious expression was invalid.

During this time neither of my parents pushed their religions onto me, respectably. Even though both parents were observant to degrees in their religion, neither was completely compliant. Yet i always felt religiously free to think as i wanted to think and this was a blessing in disguise. After doing a brief study of the religions i decided that for the time being i was happy to simply be an Agnostic. A person that is unsure about the existence of God, yet someone who still holds appreciation and respect for what religion can do to people. During my Agnostic stage of my life (from 15 years of age until about 18) i did not express my beliefs to anybody. I felt no need to and even though i had a numb feeling for religion, there was a yearning inside me to find out more and continue to explore.

Then at about 18 years of age i decided to become a Unitarian. This religion was very interesting because it was very inclusive and it mirrored my thoughts exactly. The Christian branch of Unitarianism was even better because it saw Jesus as a role model but also rejected him as a God figure.

I felt proud of my decision to become a Unitarian and i would engage with other people on discussion boards about it. When i told my Mother i had identified myself as a Unitarian (Christian branch) she was ecstatic. She expressed that i was “chosen” and that God loved me.  (Suddenly?)

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Me in front of Zagreb Cathedral 2015

When i expressed to my father that i identified with the Unitarian movement in my late teens, he was not impressed. He concluded that i was lost and needed some guidance. Hell was potentially on the horizon. Either way it was interesting to see that the more i expressed myself when it came to my faith and beliefs the more it would irritate and irk my parents- at different times, for different reasons. As i become more profound in my beliefs the perversions of religion and the religious reared its ugly head again.

Years down the path, especially after all the horrible terror attacks committed by supposed Muslims i had decided to study Islam. I truly needed to know and find out if indeed my father held the same beliefs as these lunatics. I knew instantly that there is no way, my Father, whom i love dearly would actively engage himself in a religion that encourages Murder and terrorism. So i hit the books again in my Early 20’s and i really studied the faith and the Qur’an. I remember each night before bed i would open a copy of my Dads Quran and read it for 30 minutes.

It was a mesmerizing read at times, i often remember nodding my head, in agreement, at what i read because the God concept the Qur’an expressed was exactly the God concept i believed in and when it started talking about the Prophets, especially Jesus (pbuh) it really chimed intensely for me. By the time i hit 23 years of age i decided to “Upgrade” my beliefs from a Unitarian to a Muslim and this again was something i had not immediately shared.

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Me in front of the Blue Mosque, Istanbul, 2014.

This time the tables turned and when i expressed my love and faith for Islam to my father he  was jubilant and happy, confidently asserting he knew i’d make the decision. Whereas my Mother was highly irritated, she saw it as some sort of betrayal and her Son was indeed lost in a Philosophical limbo.

Then it all became crystal clear to me. Even though my parents played it cool, deep down inside both of them had yearned for me to bat for their “team”. The bottom line is my spiritual journey is my own and i came to it without an indoctrinated mind. When i expected people to be happy that i, as a grown man, was taking observation and fleeting decisions about the World around me, i noticed it only increased their agitation and there was little support.

I remember my Father one day looking downcast and saying to me “I wish i taught you Islam when you were a kid“. I looked at him puzzled and asked why? Look at me today, i came to Islam all on my own, with a fresh mind that queried and alternated between different beliefs to come to my own “truth” or conclusion. I thanked him for not shoving religion down my throat as a kid.

I explained to him that kids that are forced into religion turn into Adults that don’t actually KNOW about their religion but instead repeat religious duties like chores. I also noticed that kids that were religiously forced into things in later years turned out to “rebel”.  I told him the fact that you both left me alone to take my own spiritual adventure was a blessing and that he has nothing to be ashamed of.

When i have children i will NOT force feed them my religious beliefs. My reasoning behind it is that i will explain to my children my beliefs and why i believe what i do, yet i will encourage them to research and embark on their journey through the path of curiosity and honesty. 

I had high hopes and expectations that my family would be proud of my spiritual journey from a lack of belief, to a Unifying belief to finally a belief of Submitting my will to the Almighty. Yet the way my Parents saw it was that i was playing with fire, quite literally! They’d selectively be happy for me if my journey stopped at their station of beliefs, yet then be upset and harsh if my beliefs went on to explore other stations.

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I will teach my kids to embark on their own spiritual journey and explain my own to them as well.

That is what i mean by the hypocrisy of religion and the religious. It is only about YOUR religion. Yet for me its about ALL religions and what you connect with the most. I want my children to find their way on their own, with their own senses, intuition and faith of which they naturally will develop. As opposed to me “corrupting” them at a young age and forcing them – out of their own will- to be a carbon copy of myself.

Today i can proudly say i am a Muslim, even if it annoys family, friends or strangers. Either side i am accused of being “brainwashed” into the religion or a “betrayer” for abandoning another. The bottom line is i have abandoned nobody or nothing. My upbringing under the Christmas lights and Crescent Moon of Ramadan really was the light of tolerance beaming down upon me and truly became the staple of my spiritual journey.

I wish my parents were more proud as to how they brought me up and held no regrets for their decisions in life. I believe because i truly believe, from the heart- as an Adult. Not a child that was forced to become an adult too soon and have their journey “cut short” because their ignorant parents don’t want them to face the reality of choice.

Peace, Salam Alaykum.
Ramey

Ah yes, as i type this the word Islamophobe and Islamophobia has a red underline on it, indicating a “spellcheck” because it is a word still not formally accepted by dictionary definition. Yet just because the word is not recognized by the dictionary does not mean a strong anti Muslim sentiment does not exist. In fact both Anti-Antisemitism and Islamophobia are on a steady rise, yet only one of these statements of intolerance is formally accepted, despite both of them being as detrimental as the other in regards to its impact on a cohesive society.

The United States, Europe and Australia have all seen an increase in Islamophobic behaviour from the minor annoyances of constant protests by nationalistic groups or to the more serious Burning of Mosques all the way to the heinous assault and even Murder of innocent civilians who just tend to share a supposed name or look to the “enemy”. In September of 2012 i received a strange friend request on Facebook from a Man that looked suspect to me.

Yes, even i fell victim to generalizing others. This man looked like your typical Skinhead that would attend those Anti Muslim rallies on the streets, rambling on about Halal, Terror and Mooslims. In fact, he outright looked like a Neo-Nazi and i was thinking “What could this guy and myself possibly have in common”.?

Minor examples of recent Islamophobic events

some recent examples of  Islamophobic                                    events in Australia.

Ladies and Gentlemen, i would like you to meet Frank Castle, my dear friend from the United Kingdom, many thousands of kilometers away but a character you wish you could meet face to face, every day! Our online friendship is approaching its third year and this man has quiet the story to tell you.

You see Frank WAS everything i feared him to be, well for the most part. Yet believe it or not, people change and this man made a 180 degree turn on his life and his attitude towards people. In the process of our mateship i did not only learn more about him, i learned about myself and the damage that generalizing could have from destroying fruitful relationships because we are so fixated on stereotyping one another.

Frank was kind enough to be Interviewed by me about his Journey from a Muslim hater filled with seething anger and hostility to the “other” to a wonderfully funny, tolerant, welcoming and kind human being who now has a Facebook Friends list that resembles a FBI Watch List (JUST KIDDING!!) 🙂 Let us begin this interview and i hope this dialogue between us can open a few hearts and change a few minds on how we see the World around us, even more importantly how we see the people around us. Peace.!

My interview with Former Islamophobe, Frank Castle

My interview with Former Islamophobe, Frank Castle


Ramey: First of all Frank, give us a brief introduction about yourself and your history.

Frank: Well,let’s say I wasn’t exactly the kind of kid that looked forward to going home. I felt most comfortable among fellow Skinheads, Rude Boys, Rastas and Punk-rockers. I was a troublesome, frustrated, youngster who picked all the fights he could. I disowned my whole biological lot and am happy about it, it’s not ‘sad’ at all. I feel much better since I got rid of them over a decade ago, my chosen family in North England and the United States, plus my taken-on children in Britain, America and Pakistan, make me feel  a lot more as a part of a family.

Ramey: Did you ever think- given your history- that you’d ever end up in a situation like this? Where you are being interviewed by a Muslim about how you’ve “changed your ways”?

Frank: Haha, absolutely not! I’m a stubborn git, changing my mind don’t come to me naturally, like my mate Danny said recently, I stick to my convictions like shit to a blanket.

Ramey: Now tell me, when did your seething hatred for Islam start? Then explain to me what periods escalated that already lingering hatred?

Frank: I didn’t really notice Muslims even existed prior to 9/11 (September 11th)- of course I knew they did, but it never mattered to me before the collapse of the twin towers. The day it happened was the day my hatred of Muslims flared up, later on revived by the 7/7 bombings (In London).

Ramey: During your period as an Islamophobe did you ever get yourself a copy of the Quran and read it, or pay a visit to a mosque to “learn more” about this supposedly evil ideology?

Frank: No, my explanation was “All I ever needed to know about Islam, I learned on 9/11.”

 

Frank once said

Frank once said “Everything i needed to know about Islam, i learned on 9/11”

Ramey: You describe yourself as a skinhead- during the days of your intense hate for Islam and Muslims did you openly support a Nazi like perspective of Muslims- just as the Jews were once seen?

Frank: No, not ever. Racism, fascism, Nazism, etc, were never my thing. I’ve always been a traditionalist Skinhead, my thing was always Ska, Rocksteady, Reggae, patriotism, working class background and a tough guy attitude. Extremism of any kind was always something I rejected. My hostility towards Muslims escalated in verbal abuse, physical assault and spitting, otherwise I mouthed off about how the government should do something about ‘the Islamic threat to our nation’.

Ramey: Were you ever part of extreme Nationalist groups like the English Defense League? What was your opinion of such groups during your time as an Islamophobe?

Frank: No, I always looked at such groups with great distrust, as I knew they tend to attract racists and Nazis, and so far I’ve always been proven right. I’m genuinely a patriot, that’s nothing like being a nationalist, I love my country, I don’t reject others for having a different background, never have.

Ramey: What moment in your life did you see the tide change when it came to your views on Islam and Muslims? Was it a slow moving tide or a sudden rush that swept over you?

Frank: It was a mixture of both. The deciding moment that radically changed my attitude from one moment to the next was when a teenage Muslim girl, Shahzeen, countered my disgusting comments with kindness and understanding. Of course, it took me a while to stop sounding stupid, such things don’t change overnight. It takes the patience of a Muslim to put up with that for as long as it takes. Over the years, Shazzy and I grew very close and she became a daughter to me, my love for her is deep and genuine.

Ramey: What was the biggest challenge in seeing the “other” as basically “The same” as you?

Frank: . I may not be a fan of multiculturalism, but it occurred to me rather quickly that it’s not my call and the majority loves it. Also they’re not usually breaking any laws, so that’s where I’m an example for true tolerance, which some mistake for ‘intolerance’ because they get it confused with acceptance. Tolerance is putting up with things you don’t like because they’re not actually causing you any harm- but race never came into it, as a traditionalist Skinhead who rejects political extremists and calls them ‘boneheads’  as a way to reject the notion of accepting them as our own. I feel a deep connection to Jamaican culture, that kind of wouldn’t have been possible if I ever had racist views, hahaha!

Today Frank is a changed man and has ZERO tolerance for Bigotry.

Today Frank is a changed man and has ZERO tolerance for Bigotry.

Ramey: So today, what is your opinion on Muslims and how extensive is your “Muslim Network”?

Frank:  I got to know Muslims as the kindest, most generous, and infinitely forgiving and understanding people I’ve ever met, and these days I have a ridiculous amount of Muslim friends because I  feel much more comfortable around Muslims than most other people. I now actually find it easier to forge a friendship with a Muslim than anyone else, because it is easier for me to trust a Muslims after learning as much about Islam and Muslim values as I have after meeting my baby girl [Shahzeen]. I once called the Prophet Muhammad ‘the first terrorist’, now I know he was an honourable man, a great leader, and very committed to the teachings of Jesus Christ, which he passed on to his followers to the best of his ability.

Ramey: Do you agree with the term Islamophobia and do you believe it is a real movement?

Frank: Well, a lot of things, especially the hatred of Muslims and homosexuals, are being commonly referred to as ‘phobias’, but as  Morgan Freeman said, “they’re not scared, they’re being arseholes.” So that seems to be a new, or secondary, meaning of  the term ‘phobia’ now. Movement… I have a hard time to apply that term to a relatively small bunch of braindead f*ckwits who aren’t actually doing anything besides being nasty.Yet for some time now there have been enough of  them to at least in some places be a massive nuisance to everyone, and even a considerable threat in some instances to the residents of  some local Muslim communities and a number of people who simply disagree with them.

Ramey: Are you proud of your accomplishment in banishing your past generalizations and looking at the world from another angle?

Frank: One of the very few things I’m actually proud of, yes- it has made my life better and brought the best people I’ve ever known into my life. I can’t grasp why they so easily treat the bad things I’ve said and done to Muslims like they never happened and give me their unconditional love.

Ramey: Do you have any advice for Muslims that are battling through Islamophobia today?

Frank: Well, Muslims and Skinheads have something in common: being judged for the despicable actions of a few idiots who abuse a good name for bad purposes. Us Skins handle it like this: the youngsters take it to heart, want to be understood, keep explaining it to everyone and always end up being disappointed, because no-one wants to listen, everyone loves to hate us. Should sound familiar to a Muslim, I’d say. Well, us old farts have stopped giving a f*ck long ago and just let the losers talk, and we’re much more content that way. Maybe Muslims should try that some time. As for physical attacks, I’m afraid everyone will generally have to go about that the way they usually would, there is no universal recipe against that.

Today, we are Bro's with different Mo's :)

Today, we are Bro’s with different Mo’s 🙂

Ramey: What words of wisdom do you have to the people today that mirrored you 10 years ago?

Frank: Stop being arseholes, get a grip, and start listening to people, you just might love what you hear.

Ramey: Thank You Frank for your contribution! Love ya mate.

Frank: My pleasure, bro, love ya too!

 

Let me say briefly, i never voted for Tony Abbott. Yet i also do not blame people that did. When the Australian Labor Government fell on its knees and made an embarrassment of itself from its rise of Julia Gillard and fall of Kevin Rudd, we all were keen on a new leadership. Someone we could trust and a government that was Solid with the interests of not only Australians in mind but society and the World as a whole.

An elected government could quickly change the demographic of the nation and i have noticed this with the current Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott. I have been alive for just over 30 years in this country and there are many things i notice about the climate of the population. Sometimes people will Mirror the sentiments of their leader, yet what is evident is the low lives of society that remained dormant for many years have suddenly risen with this new government and never have the bigots felt so confident to come out and offend our current social climate.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has made some questionable decisions.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has made some questionable decisions.

Let me give you an example, years ago under many other Australian governments i had never heard of groups like “Reclaim Australia” or the “Australian Defense League”. These are borderline fascist Neo Nazi’s that hate all things immigrant. So far this year there have been “rallies” in many Major Australian cities conducted by these Nationalistic groups that were thankfully challenged by Other groups in public squares. Yet these protests turned violent and another one is planned this month in July 2015.

These “protests” were attended by people with Swastikas on their heads and clear affiliation with other groups that are high on the crazy scale. Even though these protests were violent and full of hate, we barely heard about them in the media. Yet when a bunch of Australian Muslims ran around spewing their disgust in a distasteful matter about Prophet Muhammad cartoons, we barely heard the end of it. The bottom line is the bigots feel protected by this government to come out of their dungeons and to cause civil unrest- like members of the Australian Defense League going to a Mosque and taunting people whilst they mind their own business after prayer services.

Groups like the Australian Defense League feel protected by this current government.

Groups like the Australian Defense League feel protected by this current government.

Why are people surprised by former Olympian Dawn Fraser telling misbehaving Tennis Players to Go back to where their parents came from”? This was the language many people were afraid to speak of with other governments that held stronger stances against stereotypes and xenophobia. Yet under Tony Abbott, people are not only taking aim but firing away with their derogatory comments about their fellow inhabitants in this nation.

Why are people so surprised when we have the Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs on public television telling Australian born and bred citizens that were accused of terrorism but acquitted of those claims “I’d be happy to look you straight in the eye and say that I‘d be pleased to be part of the Government that would say that you were out of the country.I would sleep very soundly at night with that point of view.”

Our foreign Minister openly tells an Australian Citizen to get out of Australia on public television.

Our foreign Minister openly tells an Australian Citizen to get out of Australia on public television.

This was before Zaky Mallah said that oh so shocking quote about ISIS yet nobody blinked an eye when we had our Minister Of Foreign Affairs actively telling an Australian Citizen that was NOT charged with Terrorism that he would “Like him [permanently] out of the country“. Again such brazen comments made with a daring confidence highlights something to me, due to the current political climate we are in and seeing how our current Government views its minorities, immigrants and indigenous Australians, we find that never before have we seen such an influx of Nationalistic, Paranoid and Power Obsessed political figures and citizens come out from the dark.

This attitude of mine does not come out of thin air. I did not suddenly wake up and say I hate this government and what it stands for, yet it is a series of progressive decisions made by our government and its reaction from the Australian Public of which i see where the problem lies. Sometimes the people are a reflection of the government and sadly my Fellow Australians are Mirroring this Parliaments shortsightedness and i think we need to make changes- fast.!

Another nail in the coffin was the recent decision by the Australian Government to shut up Australian workers in foreign detention camps where “illegal” immigrants are currently being held, including children. The Tony Abbott government recently made a new rule claiming that all doctors, hospital workers, guards and other staff have no rights in reporting ill behaviours in these detention camps. That is right, if Human Rights abuses are being conducted (and there is evidence to suggest that they clearly are) the government has paralyzed the right of these Australian Citizens to report the cruelty with the lurking threat of 2 Years Jail for such a “crime”.

Our government no longer allows workers on out Detention Centres to report misconduct or abuse- instead they face jail.

Our government no longer allows workers on our Detention Centres to report misconduct or abuse- instead they face jail.

Not only that, our current government has also allowed Meat Headed “Guards” in these detention centres that have a clear hatred for Immigrants and Xenophobic attitudes. Recent evidence has shown that many of these guards carry Anti Immigrant tattoos, hateful social media posts and open sentiments of intolerance including photos with the infamous political bigot Pauline Hanson. These guards that the Australian Government has entrusted to these vulnerable people LOATHE them. Yet the most horrific fact about this situation is that the guards potential abuse of these people cannot be reported. It is illegal to report them! Obviously there is something to hide. Such laws are being passed and Australia is letting it happen.

These issues will now even filter down to our schools and education system here in Australia. The impending threat of 0.02% of the Australian Muslim population (100 from 500,000 who went to join ISIS) has now  reared its ugly head into our schools. The Australian Government is trying to implement a new “Jihadi Watch” scheme in our schools where teachers and students are taught on how to “spot” a Jihadi among their midst. Apparently if a fellow student “Gets in trouble” or “Argues with people of different ideologies” or “drifts away from their friends” this constitutes suspicious behaviour that would leave that student singled out and watched by fellow students and teachers. That’s odd that they formulate general “Naughty” behaviour in school to Jihadi links, they might need to actually reconsider what a Jihadi actually is.

Our government proposed

Our government proposed “Jihadi Watch” schemes in our schools where kids can be reported as potential terrorists by fellow students and teachers.

Just think about that for a moment, if one day Sarah at school decides to wear a Hijab and Abdul decides to grow his beard,  then their friends distance themselves from them and their teachers and fellow students ostracize them as potential terrorists- how on Earth would that be productive to our current social condition? How do you expect to counter terrorism by making almost anyone a suspect? It’s absolute nonsense. Will our schools then introduce “Domestic Violence Watch” schemes or “Drug addict schemes” or “Alcohol fueled violent schemes”? ALL of these examples pose a much bigger threat to Australians, yet there is no government initiative against them on a federal level.

The voice of the reasonable like us is suddenly being muffled by these flag waving bigots holding up scary signs with words like “Halal” and “Sharia” whilst they start protests, vandalize mosques, send death threats and degrade fellow citizens. Which is why Sydney and Melbourne are holding COUNTER Rallies against these groups of hate. The No To Racism, No To Facism and No To Islamophobia counter rally will be held at Martin Place, Sydney on July 19th.

Our Detention Centre

Our Detention Centre “Guards” posing with Right Wing politician Pauline Hanson- in an Anti Islam rally.

Remember this is a COUNTER rally against hate. It was never a rally that was meant to exist. Yet it is about time we respond to this rush of ignorance in our beautiful country and we cannot allow them to take the Microphone and become the spokesmen and women of Australia. We cannot change the government right now, yet when that moment comes ladies and gentlemen we must make a change. Australia cannot afford such leadership, nor such a following.

Peace, Salam! 🙂

Ramio1983