THE message from the Muslim community is loud and clear – stop the victimisation.
More than 1000 Muslims of all nationalities gathered at Parry Park in
Punchbowl yesterday afternoon to speak out against what they feel is
unjust treatment towards their community.
The crowd, which included alleged local terror suspect Bilal Khazal,
listened as eight speakers discussed how Muslims were being targeted.
The issues of banning the hijab in schools and the Federal Government's
proposed new terror laws were the main focus.
The changes include greater powers for the Federal Police and ASIO,
more security cameras, tougher jail terms for inciting violence and
fines for leaving bags unattended at airports.
The laws need NSW Government approval before they can be brought in and
will be discussed at tomorrow's Council of Australian Governments
summit in Canberra.
Federation of Australian Muslim Students and Youth president Chaaban
Omran, who chaired the Stop Victimising Muslims event, said the
community wanted a stop to the campaign of hatred against Islam and
Muslims in Australia.
"We are very concerned about the deliberate campaign about inciting hatred at Islam and Muslims," he said.
The message of the day was to say "no" to the campaign of
"intimidation" and "demonising" of Muslims and to the "draconian"
anti-terror laws targeting Muslims, Mr Omran said.
Many speakers urged Muslims to stay strong in the face of intense
public scrutiny, while others spoke about being targeted by politicians
and the media.
Australian Islamic Mission president Zachariah Matthews told the gathering "enough is enough".
"I would like to say to those victimising Muslims, 'Stop inciting hatred towards our community'," Dr Matthews said.
"Stop the unjust attacks, stop attacking our sisters who wear the hijab. Give us a fair go."
Zouhour El Ghoul, from the Islamic Council of NSW, said in the past few
months Muslim women had been "put under the microscope" for wearing the
"The proposal to ban the hijab is simply unjust and following in the footsteps of oppressive nations," Ms El Ghoul said.
"It's more than a piece of cloth on the top of the head. It's a duty to
Allah and it's an integral part of our identity. It's my life and my
choice and I can wear what I want when I want."
Australian Muslim Civil Rights Advocacy Network co-convener Agnes Chong
said the proposed terror law changes would unfairly target Muslims.
She said members of the community got together to discuss the proposals
and wrote a 46-page critique. "We are being labelled and seen as
terrorists although we have nothing to do with terrorism."
Yesterday's event also called for justice and respect for all Australian citizens.
Daily Telegraph, 26 September 2005