Silma Ihram stated: "A lot of it started in garages and while we had the opportunity (to practice religious freedom) within a free country, it can't continue that way." (www.news.com.au)
Muslims in Australia is small - 476,300, or 2.2 per cent of the nation's inhabitants. The article noted that there are many different versions of Islam in Australia and because one lot of Muslim Leaders speak to the media, apparently it doesn't register with a host of other Muslims. One of the issues was highlighted by Sydney think-tank Forum on Australia's Islamic Relations, Kuranda Seyit, who explained that many Australian Muslims have never met the Mufti of the Australian or NSW Islamic Councils.
Seyit noted: "He doesn't come to our mosque. There are no strategic plans for bringing Muslims together; there are no institutional programs that engage Muslims from different communities to get together and thrash out issues." The News.com article cited 70 different national and ethnic backgrounds, among them Lebanese, Turkish, Afghan, Egyptian, Indian, Pakistani, Bosnian, South African and Fijian.
Well-Being Australia chairman Dr Mark Tronson says the old adage in Australian politics that there is more hate within Australian political parties than directed against opponents may also have similarities elsewhere within other community groups. There appears to be several issues:
My group has the 'true truth' syndrome
The Australian Christian scene has certainly experienced a good dose of this syndrome since the convict days when it took several decades before a Catholic Priest was even allowed into Sydney Cove.
Moreover the initial years of Pentecostalism revivalism in Australia forty years ago illustrated this mind set and it gained something of a resurgence when they got together a few years ago and named themselves the Australian Christian Church.
Now this Muslin 2.2% of the Australian population has so many splinter groups "established in back yard garages" that their own number, frustrated and exasperated are calling for this type of religious freedom to be somehow banned.
Violence is the inevitable outcome of having no political voice
History is replete with examples of groups not having a political voice and finally seeing that oppression evidenced by violence. The German Princes supported Martin Luther not for religious reasons but political ones. The 30 years war was the eventual result.
The French Revolution is another example. Many African nations' freedom movements came through some form of political violence. The list goes on and on. The so called Islamic Spring is something similar, Syria is a prime example right now.
So too on the local level. If the political power of the 2.2% is held by one particular type of Islamic expression, surely history reveals that those internal prohibitions will be expressed into the wider community and in a democracy, the loudest voice all to often …
National commentators have recognised that the Sydney riots had less to do with religious issues as with a build up of a lack of any real political voice.
Religious and political freedom go hand in hand
Silma Ihram claim appears to be, that her type of Muslim is reasonable and non-violent and therefore respectable within the Australian context, but that those rowdy Islamic types should have neither religious and thereby, political freedoms. In Australia, the two go hand in hand.
Mark Tronson says that the rowdy type of Islamist appear to be keen on the sort of politics that puts them in charge with a host of laws that would bring the nation into an Islamicised governance. Little wonder moderate Muslims in Australia don't think much of their politics or religion.
Obviously there needs to be another way found whereby the rowdy Islamic types can air their religious and political views within the Islamic community itself. But there might be another way as well.
Australians are great talkers
Whether its the cow-cocky chewing-the-cud with a neighbouring farmer, any community women's gathering, the latee-set in the State capital inner city suburbs sipping coffee with their little finger's outstretched, or good grief, Parliamentarians raving-on, any of us in reality, us Aussies are great talkers.
The rowdy type of Islamist needs a forum – in fact, hundreds of little forum's. Pushing it underground is useless, it will just grow and become more disruptive. Churches and missions for example, should be initiating programs so that hundreds of church and mission small groups could invite a small number of these rowdy types on each separate occasion.
It is amazing what the hand of friendship initiates. Individuals could see that the Christian in the suburbs has budgetary constraints as anyone else, enjoys seeing their children develop and gain an education for their future, showing how attending local community meetings such as a P&C is part of the Australian political landscape, how sports and cultural activities are part of community living.
Dr Mark Tronson chairman of Well-Being Australia understands that many may never change their ideology, but might find a friend or friends where a trust and mutual respect in relationship might be established. It's a start! A real life example: his minister spoke of his wider family last Sunday, where a Christian grand-mother lovingly invited her grand-son's Muslim wife to her home bible study where she became a regular member of that group.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html