Camden on the Gold Coast?

09 Dec

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.


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4 responses to “Camden on the Gold Coast?

  1. Darren

    December 9, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    Did you also read the article about the Muslim school in nearby Brisbane not allowing the Australian anthem to be played in their school. The reason being it’s against their belief’s. The teacher from this school who played our anthem was also fired immediately. How can a nations anthem possibly go against any residents beliefs if they are to blend in and be a positive influence for our future?? What is it that the Muslim teachers are teaching their children when Australian beliefs are so evidently against theirs?? I believe in equality and opportunity for all, all who deserve it that is. To enter a country and appose their beliefs and culture is something i find concerning and insulting, and if that’s what they want to teach in Australian schools then they are not welcome here.

  2. Neil

    December 9, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    Yes, and the follow-up story.

    A Brisbane Islamic school has dismissed newspaper reports it banned students from singing the Australian national anthem, revealing its choir performed the song two days ago.

    The Courier-Mail today reported the Australian International Islamic College at Durack introduced a policy banning Advance Australia Fair from being performed.

    The allegation was attributed to a teacher who was apparently sacked after speaking out against the decision.

    However school board trustee Keysar Trad told the issue had been blown out of proportion and insisted the anthem was performed regularly.

    “Our school choir sang the national anthem at our graduation ceremony on Wednesday night,” Mr Trad said.

    “The choir also performed the anthem at a religious celebration in a local park a couple of weeks ago and has done so at a number of other community events.”

    While he conceded outgoing school principal Azroul Liza Khalid had “put on hold” the playing of the anthem at school assemblies, Mr Trad denied it was a malicious decision.

    There was a view that music should not be performed on Friday because it is a holy day, but the school board did not agree, he said…

    That may seem weird to us, but there are certain Protestants and also some Orthodox Jews that I know of who really wouldn’t find that reasoning at all strange.

  3. jane

    December 17, 2008 at 7:15 pm

    Hi there Darren and Neil,

    You may be interested in my note below may sound like strong views but we ozzies are so tolerant and compliant that it will cost us dearly if we allow such dangerous beliefs to become the norm in our culture.

    Australians are all in all a very accommodating, friendly and innocent nation due to our distance from many of the different and dangerous cultures so far from our shores.

    We have accepted many different ethnic nations into our country and will continue to do so in the right way, however there is a huge difference between a religious sect belonging to another nation trying to invade our life.

    We can accept folk from Muslim countries as we would Europeans, Asians etc but we do not and should not allow them to segregate themselves and formally separate schools etc to educate them in a different style and content than that of Australian beliefs and standards.

    If they want to live by their religious systems then they need to live in a Muslim country to foster their own choice of lifestyle not a free nation.

    We tend to think everyone is like us. This is not the case at all and in regard to the belief systems of the Muslims is the opposite of our passive Christian based nation.

    They often can appear very nice in day-to-day life and many are nice folk but the crux of the matter is their belief system is very fanatical and controlling in its demands. It does not in any way follow the free and healthy attitude of our normal Australian life.

    This type of belief system will eventually poison the minds of those taught it and whilst living in our free and open style of life will create tension and acts of violence in our country, as this is the way the teachings guide them to disapprove and try to wipe out such freedoms that we have.

    Many folk compare such opinions as this as though bigot, or racists because we allow Catholic schools, Seventh day Adventists etc, but these are more Christian based beliefs, even Jewish schools will not be teaching such harmful thoughts that will be taught in the Muslim schools.

    We must start to realize the difference between accepting people from other countries to accepting and allowing them to teach such different religious belief systems from our own. Let them practice their religion in their homes if they must but we as a nation need to stand firm on not allowing so much freedom in religious matters that will become a great danger to our free nation if not halted now.

    Researching many countries in Europe one will find great problems with the Muslim status and demands they make as their numbers and power grows. Even now wanting to change the British law system to encompass some of their religious belief laws.

    We are all supposed to be equal and live as one in our country, so why should we have to adjust or even contemplate such things for a religious group foreign to our belief system. The whole idea of complying with their requests and demands is absurd if we want to keep our country the free happy place it has been, and it has been this way due to not having such religious fanaticism groups in our country until recently, which is what has caused so many unfortunate conflicts already and harm to some of our citizens.

    Having lived in a Muslim country my views are strong in the desire that I would not want some of the terrible things I have seen them do in the name of Allah and heard their views on our type of lifestyle.

    One example comes to mind, when the head of the Muslim leader from Sydney, (sorry forgotten his name) went on air in Egypt stating what a disgraceful pack of sinners Australians were, promiscuous, evil and many other terrible things about us. He then was allowed back into our country!! You may think so what, but this broadcast went out to millions of people many who will never really meet an Australian or see how we really live and this is the dangerous image he has planted in their minds and in so doing could encourage action against us in a manner according to their belief systems.

    This is just an example of how they can be so dangerous, living freely in our country enjoying our living conditions then spreading such poison to other fanatical Muslims that could pose threats to us. We should be deporting such dangerous and controlling members of the Muslim society not giving them free reign to expose us to danger.

    We must, take action now to limit the freedom of the Muslim religion in our country or we will be in grave danger. It needs to be done now, firmly but with understanding that they can practice in there own homes but that we will not comply with separation of schools etc for the teachings of their religion, if they still want this sort of separation from our Australian life they need to go back to a Muslim country to follow their belief system not impose it on our country, as it is too different and unhealthy for the way our country functions.

    I am sorry but rules and beliefs followed are so contrary to our free life and would only encourage greater conflict in having to fight for our rights to live a free lifestyle, which is what will eventually happen as it has in many other countries.

    Please politicians, councilors, and every Australian wake up and do some research on what damage the segregation of the Muslim beliefs can do and have done in the past and in other countries and make sure we do not make the same mistakes. Taking a stand on a religion is not the same as not accepting other races. It is the belief system that we must not allow to invade our nations lifestyle, not the actual people of the different countries. This is what Australians need understand and is best done with guidance by those in power.

    Concerned Australian

    Jane Jones

  4. Neil

    December 17, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    Jane, I am as Ozzie as they come — descended from Anglo-Scottish mainly, from a convict who arrived in 1821, and from the Dharawal people who were here long before that. At first I tended to dismiss your comment, but on reading it more closely I see it is in fact rather interesting.

    I agree that any group, whoever they may be, who works against the interests of the country needs to be watched, but I do not agree, living as I do in “Little Lebanon” around the corner from a mosque, that Muslims need to be specially singled out over, say, any other group such as Orthodox Jews, Catholics, Hindus, or whatever.

    There are plenty of people in all these groups who are as good “Aussies” as you or I. “Aussie” is NOT, repeat, NOT an ethnic or religious category. “They” are Aussies. So are you. “We” are Aussies.

    Segregation? Well religious schools may or may not be a good idea. Should we all go to secular state schools? You do know that not many years ago most people in my family would have told you that Catholic schools fostered disloyalty to King and Country! I agree with you that the state must impose a standard curriculum on all schools, state or private, secular or religious, allowing the distinctiveness parents might seek to express itself other than through the core curriculum. Much the same arguments apply to those wishing to teach Creation Science, for example. In Australia no school wishing to attract government funding can stray very far from the core curriculum that all schools must follow. Existing Muslim schools do conform, generally speaking, from my observation, just as the Orthodox Jewish school I once worked in did.

    I think we do need — on all sides — to be more tolerant, understanding, and welcoming. That is entirely the point Duncan was making in his post, as a Uniting Church minister. I do note you posted from the United Arab Emirates, by the way… And yes, I would also be opposed to any school so segregated that it utterly flew in the face of core Australian values, but there is no evidence that is the case with the school which triggered Duncan’s original post.

    Go and read Irfan Yusuf, just for one example, for some idea of what sane Aussie Muslims actually think.

    But do read my side bar on the subject of Islamophobia. It says, just in case you missed it:

    Islamophobes: Before you even think of commenting, read this post. I’m just sick of arguing!

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