The 2016 election has seen the return of Pauline Hanson, the founder of One Nation, an anti-Islamic and anti-multiculturalism group. With her recent rise to as the Queensland senator, Australian Muslims have reported a rise in attacks against them.
Pauline Hanson’s rhetoric has her supporters believing that they are ‘protecting’ Australia from terrorism by opposing Islam, and shouting derogatory terms like ‘rag head,’ ‘terrorist’ and ‘towel head’ at every passing Muslim woman and man with a hijab or beard. It is clear that she and her followers are halting Australia’s progression and setting our country back many years.
Hanson’s followers are made up of Anglo-Australians, who have founded groups like Reclaim Australia and True Blue Crew, who say that they are “Pro-Australian groups, against Islamisation, open border policies, refugees, asylum seekers and the left wing.”
With their support, she is growing bigger and bigger within the Australian political scene. With many news outlets discussing her, and even endorsing her views – as was the case when the ‘famous’ Sonia Kruger from Today Extra Nine Network supported her proposed ban on Muslims – the voice of the Muslim community is becoming increasingly hard to hear.
One of the many things that I have realised about Hanson and her supporters is that they suffer from the worst case of selective hearing. Every time they want to bring more hate to Islam, they mention the recent terrorist attacks such as the Lindt café siege, the Brussels airport bombing, the Orlando nightclub shooting, the Nice attack, or the beheading of the 84-year-old French priest in his church. These are all unfortunate events and many of the Muslims that I know have prayed and cried for the victims and their families.
However, Hanson and her supporters never mention that the majority of the recent ISIS attacks have been on Muslims. These attacks disrupt any sort of peace that they may have in their countries. In 2016, ISIS executed a bombing at a police camp in Egypt, a bombing in Turkey in Sultanahmet Square, a bombing in Indonesia, a bombing in Syria which was targeting Alawite locals, three bombings targeting Yemeni military checkpoints, a bombing in an Iraqi soccer stadium, a bombing in a Kazakhstan, a gun attack in a Bangladesh café and two car bomb attacks in the Karradah district in Baghdad. The latter killed over 300 people on the last few days of Ramadan. This list hardly comes close to covering other ISIS bombings against Muslims this year.
The True Blue Crew and Reclaim Australia group constantly point fingers at average peace-loving Australian Muslims, claiming that we are ISIS supporters and that we have the same mentality as jihadists. They disregard the fact that many Muslims are dealing with their loved ones being killed in the Middle East, and in Australia, they’re dealing with people who think that we are the cause of all the havoc. I wonder whether they know how hard it is for some people to deal with being placed in the same category as the people who kill their families overseas on a daily basis.
On the 30th of July 2016, the Australian United Against Bigotry and Racism group organised a rally against Queensland Senator Pauline Hanson and her anti-Islamic ideology. I was so happy to arrive at the scene of the rally and see that the people fighting for our peace and comfort were double, if not triple, the number of Hanson’s supporters from the True Blue Crew and Reclaim Australia group.
As a Muslim-Australian who was born and raised here, it is pretty annoying to see how many racists are trying to get us out of our own country and telling us that we don’t conform to the ‘Australian way of life’. According to the national anthem, the ‘Australian way of life’ means sharing “boundless plains” with everyone, even “those who’ve come across the seas” – which would include Muslim migrants too.
My parents, like many other immigrants, came to Australia in 1995, because they were seeking a better future for their children, away from Saddam Hussein’s bloody dictatorship. When they came here, they spoke broken English, yet despite that and the loss of some family members and friends under Saddam’s ruling, they did everything to make us feel comfortable. My parents found a private school for my older sisters, made sure all their fees were paid, and that we had a decent-sized house, and food and drink in our fridge at all times. They worked harder than ever, in jobs that they deserved – and like most of the other immigrants with ethnic backgrounds, my parent’s citizenship was well earned.
On behalf of all the strong and motivated Muslims in Australia, I am going to say that despite our occasional discomfort at your hateful, racist and anti-Islam remarks, we are not going anywhere. We have as much right as anyone else to be living peacefully in Australia. And finally, the Muslims are not the terrorists in Australia, Pauline – the only people terrorising others on a daily basis are you and your supporters.
Words by Yosra Al Awadi