This weekend, Reclaim Australia held rallies across Australia (read the round up on ABC). Although the numbers for the ‘No Room for Racism’ counter-protesters far surpassed numbers of actual protesters, it was still as surreal as ever to see people draped in my countries flag telling me that my existence in my country as not welcome. This weekend’s events brought back all the feelings I had in my younger years – the feeling that I’m not allowed to call myself an Australia, that I don’t belong, that I need to watch my back and the feeling that I’ll just be better off if I was invisible. I’m not going to tell people – Muslim and non-Muslim – that they don’t have a right to be upset and appalled. The protesters spewed hatred and intolerance. They made awful jabs at the Islamic faith and all those who follow it. They made unfounded claims and argued that we, the Muslims of Australia, are not welcome here. It’s difficult not to take that into your heart and soul and let it eat away at you. But I am going to tell you not to react in retaliation. React to your own benefit.
Forget them. Forget the noise they make. Forget their stupid, misguided, contradictory trash. I’m not telling you to lay down and let these people walk all over you. This isn’t about turning the other cheek. It’s about recognising that these people are a bunch of trash that just need to be ignored. They are not worth the time of day or the energy in trying to bring them around to the reasonable, sensible plane of thinking. I mean, look at what their ’10 point plan’ for Australia is: And you don’t even want to look at their websites. These guys want a brand new Constitution written on their terms that can be amended just, like… whenever. (You can read more about how silly they are on my Halal Choices post). They have no idea what they’re talking about. They are a group of bigots who want to throw their bigotry our way. It’s times like these where it’s important for us, Muslims especially, to remember that there is only one real option moving forward. There is only one way for us to retaliate to these sort of hatred and bigotry. Ready? It’s magical. Be the best people that you can be. That’s it, that’s all we need to do. When I was younger, I was made to believe that most Australians just didn’t want us in this country. Watching the ways that keynote speakers (including Australian politicians!) and protesters act, you would be forgiven for thinking that. It’s just not true. To see the truth, all you need to do is take a deep breath and take a step back. Have a look at the world around us and you will find that groups like Reclaim Australia are a joke. This radicalised minority is to Australia what ISIS is to Islam.* It’s not representative of wider society. Most people aren’t out to threaten the safety and mental health of minority groups. They are open and welcoming to difference. At times like this, the Islamic community has a duty to provide a constant, positive presence in the community. We absolutely must continue to strive for excellence in every way. We should aim to continue to work hard, study hard and contribute hard. It is our job to continue to go about our day-to-day lives, being flags for Islam in ways that can drown out noise from the likes of ISIS and groups like Reclaim Australia. There is little-to-no benefit in proclaiming loudly and adamantly that we are not terrorists; that our religion does not call for us to be terrorists. There’s no major benefits in insisting that Islam is a ‘religion of peace’. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I will continue to do just that – it’s what Unveiled Thought is all about. But it’s not what we need to focus our energy on and it’s not what I want to focus my energies on. Right now, it’s important that we build our resilience and ability to be functioning, fabulous members of society. We need to show people that we are good. I know that’s easier said than done; I know that my words are empty because I know that no one could have convinced me that there was any hope until I found it for myself. I think I’ll write a few posts of my experiences after I started throwing myself out into the community. For now, just know that your efforts will not go unnoticed. People will gravitate towards those who are good and do good. You don’t need to convince anyone that Islam is good – words can fall on deaf ears. Words need to be contextualised and justified. Just show them that you are good, in and of yourself, and the rest will follow. There is nothing that they can say or do that will take away from the impact you leave on people with your good actions. ‘O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm for Allah , witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah ; indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what you do.’ That’s it. In the wake of all this hatred, do good. Be just – to yourself and to the community around us.
*Clarification: I’ve received a lot of messages about this. My comparison of Reclaim Australia to ISIS wasn’t at all to say that they’re doing the same things. If you read it in the context of the article, where I said that Reclaim Australia are not representative of wider views of society; you’ll find what I’m saying. ISIS is about as Islamic as Reclaim Australia is Australian. That is, ISIS is not representative of Islam and we do not accept what they say as Islamic at all. Most Australians look at Reclaim Australia with disgust and do not accept their views as representative of wider society.