Australian Freedom: A Fallacy
- From: "VIVA PALESTINE" <alfalastinee@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Mon, 18 Apr 2011 22:49:58 +0300
?Australian Freedom: A Fallacy
Australian Freedom: Muslim women being harassed
By: A'aesha Bayatly
Most Australians today believe our country to be one upholding values of democracy and freedom. Few Australians understand however, that there are individuals today living in our society who have to have to look over their shoulder when they leave the house and who live the life of someone observed by the government. "Be careful. Don't be seen in certain places. Don't talk. Don't be seen talking. Don't think, or at least don't tell anyone what you think. Don't look too religious when you appear in public and careful of the phone. when you hear the clicks. shhhh."
George Orwell's 1984 revisited or perhaps it sounds more like dialogue excerpted from a 1980s 'living behind the iron curtain' movie? Really, I wish I could say I was exaggerating or even joking. I never guessed I would ever have to live like this, not in Australia, but I do now, and I fear I will not be the last Australian to lose my freedom.
Freedom lovers beware.
As an Australian woman I converted to Islam 3 years ago and 6 months later, I met and married the now love of my life, my husband, Zaki, from Iraq. " I have never bombed an embassy nor hijacked a plane, but regardless, I live my life imprisoned in my home because it is no longer safe for me to venture out"
As a schoolgirl in the early 1980s I grew up as a proud Australian singing 'I Love My Sunburnt Country' and 'God Save the Queen', as all children do in this country. And as a teenager I loved to listen to stories of Australians fighting gallantly against German and Japanese militarism during war-time. Three of my grandparents served in the Australian armed forces during WW2. Even though until their deaths none of them ever recovered from their experiences, they all stood proud saying they had 'done their bit' towards maintaining the freedom of this country, supposedly a freedom we all still enjoy until today.
When I came to Islam however, I quickly began to see a different side to Australia and its' people- one that I never knew existed.
In the past 3 years, I've come close to being bashed several times, have had bricks thrown through my lounge room window, have had people try to run us off the road in our car, had my home spray-painted with anti- Islamic obscenities, have been refused service in shops, have been attacked by an individual attempting to forcefully yank my covering robes from my body in the city, not to mention being subjected to verbal insult by who one would otherwise have thought were law-abiding, civilized, educated, middle-class citizens. And how could I forget the catch-cry, 'F*** off back to your own country!' As an 8th generation Australian, I wonder where else I'd go home. With such attitudes becoming more and more prevalent I wish now I had somewhere else to live and Australians need to realize that almost every foreigner here without exception would go home to a familiar culture and family and friends if only they could.
How many times have I heard someone remark, "Spot the Aussie"? But who says Australia belongs only to white Anglo-Saxons? The White Australia Policy was fully revoked in 1966 and our land has been built by and benefited only from migrants since its very first immigrants, the Aborigines. Only man establishes political boundaries on this earth and stops God's creatures from moving about freely on His earth. If only His perfect Law prevailed.
Despite the Prime Minister's recent assurances that his newly launched terrorism awareness media campaign 'would not cause Muslims to be made scapegoats', one only has to take into consideration the fact that the said national security hotline attracted 500 calls in its first day to understand just how damaging to date our government's failure to contain anti foreign (especially anti Arab) and anti Islamic sentiment in the Australian media has been, and many would say it has been a deliberate tactic. Prime Minister, John Howard's notable silence was deafening over the recent outburst of NSW MP Fred Nile's call to ban Muslim women from wearing traditional cloaks in public. Doesn't it seem ironic that Howard's token comments at strategic moments discouraging racial/religious intolerance in Australian society are a mere drop in the ocean compared with the amount of negative talk and propaganda he has tolerated throughout the mainstream media over the last 18 months? One only has to tune in to talk-back radio programs around the country to be shocked on hearing the anti -Muslim and Anti-Islamic slander that is tolerated on air, but how many Muslims have I spoken to who have been refused their say when they call-in to present a different side to domestic and foreign policy issues.
On examination of recent history, one only has to look back as far as George W. Bush's on-going propaganda war launched in the year or so leading up to the American invasion of Afghanistan on October 13, 2001, to understand the far-reaching effects (and to some, benefits) of negative propaganda and slander in one's media. After all Bush's
long-planned military assault on Afghanistan aimed at facilitating the construction of the U.S.-profiting gas pipeline passing through Afghanistan and other poor South-East Asian countries would never have been tolerated by the rest of the world had he not done such an efficient job at demonising people who had no money to feed their citizens let alone counter a sustained world-wide media attack in which CNN and it's colleagues were the first missile launchers to be utilized in President Bush's War of Terror. After all, even Bush knows that no one will cry for a 'criminal' when he is seen to get his 'just deserts'.
The truth of the matter is, of course, as every Western government including Australia's has discovered, that if Muslims are kept busy just surviving media-generated public intolerance in their lands of residence, they will remain too preoccupied to publicly speak the truth on topical issues in an organized fashion and to actively unite
internationally to defend their Brothers in Belief, in poorer Muslim countries who are continually subjected to the intimidation and harassment of money-hungry, well-armed, exploitive western countries who arrogantly stand to inflict their own self-benefiting brands of democracy on peoples and nations who would prefer to be self-governed
according to their own cultural and religious beliefs. Even America's puppet, the crippled but potentially useful United Nations legislates that every country in the world has this right.
In their anti-terrorism public education campaign, the government's catch-cry asserting that 'the way of life that we value so highly must go on,' presumably excludes the life of strangled freedom and uncertainty that I and many Muslims live in this country today and surely, nor does it take into account such events as the fire-bombing of my local mosque shortly after the Bali bombings. Had the mosque been a church, synagogue or even a shopping centre, the media would have been fueling the fire of public paranoia further, telling us that terrorism had come to down-town Perth, but because Australians had the excuse of being grief effected after the Bali bombing episode, this violent and criminal attack made on the local Hepburn Heights Mosque went relatively unnoticed by most of Australia due to the lesser media attention it warranted
The first newspaper advertisements in the Australian Government's "Be alert but not alarmed" advertising campaign earlier this week pointed out that "Australians are friendly, decent, democratic people, and we're going to stay that way." But judging by recent trade trends with the Middle East, the reputation Australia has enjoyed to date as a 'friendly' nation, with a healthy distance from USA, Britain and Asia, has been irreversibly eroded in the last twelve months by the complete lack of neutrality Howard has displayed by pathetically clinging to his 'US military might security blanket'. When our government aligns Australia with the US and its history of foreign interference, especially in the Arab and Muslim countries, we implicate ourselves into an enemy camp and Mr. Howard must realize that we cannot have it both ways - friendly people with unfriendly foreign policies in the Middle East.
I am not a terrorist, but I am a Believer in Islam. I am not an oppressed and shrouded Muslim woman, but a treasured and devoted wife and the expectant mother of 2 young children, who proudly chooses to dress with modesty as worship to Allah. I have never bombed an embassy nor hijacked a plane, but regardless, I live my life imprisoned in my home because it is no longer safe for me to venture out without the accompaniment of my husband.
In an effort to de-complicate the lives of other Perth Muslims, my husband and I have also felt it necessary to break contact with our Community as my husband and I are under the constant and meticulous observation of the Department of State Security after being falsely reported as being in communication with Al-Qaeda. The Department now receives our emails before we do and during interrogation, a family member was questioned as to how clever my husband is with computers to be able to detect outsiders entering into our computer to access documents. As a woman educated in the West, I have been encouraged to always use my mind, exploring all sides of topical issues, and then on making an educated choice, as an act of responsibility and conscience, to speak the truth even if that truth is contrary to popular media opinion. The result of such however, is that I cannot even chat with my husband privately and freely on the telephone, even just to say, "I love you, How are you?", because all my telephone calls are now being recorded until such time as enough evidence is found to have my husband and I proven terrorists.
Mr. Howard if you are reading my words this morning, as you suck the egg yolk off your bacon rind before heading off to the office, I would like to ask you why my freedom as an Australian to walk in the street un-harassed, to think, to speak, to associate, to dress as I choose, to believe and to educate according to my choice, disappeared when I became a Muslim? And Mr. Howard, as you self-righteously ride your hobby horse into Iraq behind Big Brother Bush on his war horse to bomb my in-laws whom you nor I will probably ever be privileged enough to meet-Is cheap oil for you, Tony and George really worth it? Please consider if your policies, justifying censored media, political harassment of innocents, lost privacy, prejudicial government law-making, public education programs in which people are encouraged to watch, suspect and inform on each other and of course your unforgettable but concealed act of having would-be Australians in leaky fishing boats fired on by your navy, are now all that different from the evil Saddam's.
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