I promoted Muslim Schooling on Gold Coast by Postkiwi Duncan Macleod on Neil’s Shared Items yesterday, but it is worth a post here too.
The Gold Coast where I live has hit the news headlines this last week as a group of Christians petitioned, and protested against the establishment of a Muslim school in Carrara. Australian International Islamic College, based in Durack, Brisbane, is proposing to build the Gold Coast’s first Muslim school right next door to the Dream Centre, a large AOG church.
Tony Doherty, a minister with the Dream Centre, is coordinating the Concerned Carrara Residents Group, mobilizing the local residents against the proposed school. The group’s expressed concerns are about the increase in traffic, reduced security, the disturbance of the peace (look how upset the group is and the school hasn’t started yet), a lack of community cohesion relating to the long standing churches and social clubs in the area, a concern that a separated Muslim community would take over the area, and the loss in property values.
It’s obvious that this protest is based on a concern about the school being Islamic. There’s a major school just down the road run by an interdenominational group of Christians that would have ten times the amount of traffic.
One of the comments from the Church is that it doesn’t make sense to have a Muslim community next to a Christian community. Where else would you place them if you wanted them to live harmoniously within the wider community?…
My emphasis. It all has a familiar ring, hasn’t it? Duncan, a Uniting Church minister, continues:
I think it’s time to affirm what being Australian means. We live in a secular society, in which people of all walks of life can have access to education and employment, no matter what their creed. That includes access to State schools, as well as the right to provide faith-based education that fits with the State’s syllabus…
Let’s keep our eyes on this one.
Speaking of Uniting Church, it is hardly a secret that The South Sydney Herald is a community project of South Sydney Uniting Church. I was interested to note, when I attended the end-of-year party, that those involved testify to its inclusiveness, however, ranging from Andrew (editor and minister) through a group including older leftie/anarchist activists, young bright journalism types, including one Liberal Party member, artists, atheists, gay lesbian and transgender, and just lately as a guest contributor Brendan Nelson! The Paper, as those involved call it, has developed quite a lot this year and really is appreciated in the local area – that is Newton, Redfern, Chippendale, Rosebery, Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, Kings Cross. They have broken some important stories during the year and been quite a little ginger group all round. They also do much to give voice to local performers and artists, the local Indigenous community, and quite a few others.
While not directly related to the subject of Duncan’s post, OPINION: Second Column in Crescent Times … by eminently sane Australian Muslim lawyer Irfan Yusuf is a good companion piece.
So here’s my solution to prejudice – prove the agents of prejudice wrong. Yes, Muslims have a soft spot for the Palestinians (as indeed do many Jews, especially in Israel). But that doesn’t mean we should assume all Jews have an anti-Muslim agenda. We should leave this kind of simplistic logic to simpletons who attend Republican Party rallies or who seek to take over the NSW Liberals.
That means we should build networks with like-minded people. And under no circumstances should we tolerate any group in society to be marginalised.