A possie in Aussie

February 5, 2010

Muslims overwhelmingly support educating girls and boys equally

Filed under: race relations,racism — Nayano @ 9:05 am
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It is a pity that this is a news item. It only is ‘news’ because of stereotyping  of all Muslims that we in the West construct from the behaviour of a few public figures like Bin Laden.

Do your bit to fight the stereotype, and disseminate the following everywhere you can:
Across predominantly Muslim nations, there is little enthusiasm for the extremist Islamic organizations Hamas and Hezbollah, although there are pockets of support for both groups, especially in the Middle East.

A survey conducted May 18 to June 16, 2009 by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project of six predominantly Muslim nations (Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan and Turkey) and the Palestinian territories, as well as the Muslim population of Nigeria and Israel’s Arab population also finds there is limited enthusiasm for most of the Muslim political figures tested on the survey, with the exception of Saudi King Abdullah, who is easily the most popular.

There is also a widespread perception among Muslims that conflict between Sunnis and Shia is not limited to Iraq’s borders, and many Muslims are also convinced there is a struggle between groups who want to modernize and fundamentalists.

Also of note, Muslim publics overwhelmingly support educating girls and boys equally.

Read the full report at pewglobal.org


May 6, 2009

Leaky boats, freezing vegetables: we won’t keep them away

Let’s put Asylum seekers rescued from leaky boat (Channel Nine News) into perspective.

This, and many other news outlets, are reporting that about 50 asylum seekers have been picked up by an Australian navy boat off the northwest coast, the 11th vessel to be intercepted this year.

And, of course, (yawn) Malcolm Turnbull is saying the same thing:

“We know that people smugglers have received the message that our policies, Mr Rudd’s policies, are soft and that we’ve become a soft target”.

Now, here is some perspective:

The Globe and Mail has also just published a story about ‘floods’ of asylum seekers: Migrants flood into Greece – then try to sneak out

The port city of Patras is the unwilling home to about 4,000 Afghan men living rough in the streets.

They have been dumped there by people smugglers, and try anything to get from there to other countries in Europe:

“They cling to the undersides of tractor-trailers being loaded onto ships and ferries. They sneak into refrigerated trucks, shivering among crates of vegetables. They seal themselves into false-bottom cubbyholes in the backs of vans. Some are caught before they make the crossing. Some die of suffocation in their airless hiding places.”

“You can’t keep them away. They come back,” said Alexandros Zavos, president of the Hellenic Migration Policy Institute, a think tank in Athens. “What can you do?” he added, “Build more jails, more camps, camps for 200,000 people? That’s unimaginable.”

Even right wing P J O’Rourke  seems sick of the nasty and dumb anti-boat people rhetoric:

“I really believe in immigration … Let them in. Let them in. These people are assets. [O]ne or two of them might not be, but you can sort them out later … Oh, I think conservatives are getting this wrong all over the world, I really do.” J Bishop gets the right stuff from P J O’Rourke

March 20, 2009

Web of lies against Rudd and Muslims

Filed under: race relations,refugee — Nayano @ 12:55 pm
Tags: , , ,

Another of the fake and poisonous emails is doing the rounds.

Funny how they have such a long life – this one originated in 2005. Luckily, as much as the web makes circulating lies easy, it also makes finding them out easy too.

Thanks to Snopes for this expose.

Muslims Out of Australia!

Claim:   Article compiles statements from Australian government officials about Sharia law and Muslim extremists.
Example:   [Collected via e-mail, 2005]

Muslims Out of Australia!
CANBERRA AUSTRALIA: Muslims who want to live under Islamic Sharia law were told on Wednesday to get out of Australia, as the government targeted radicals in a bid to head off potential terror attacks. A day after a group of mainstream Muslim leaders pledged loyalty to Australia at a special meeting with Prime Minister John Howard, he and his ministers made it clear that extremists would face a crackdown.

Treasurer Peter Costello, seen as heir apparent to Howard, hinted that some radical clerics could be asked to leave the country if they did not accept that australia was a secular state and its laws were made by parliament. “If those are not your values, if you want a country which has Sharia law or a theocratic state, then Australia is not for you,” he said on national television. “I’d be saying to clerics who are teaching that there are two laws governing people in Australia, one the Australian law and another the Islamic law, that is false.

If you can’t agree with parliamentary law, independent courts, democracy, and would prefer Sharia law and have the opportunity to go to other country which practices it, perhaps, then, that’s a better option,” Costello said. Asked whether he meant radical clerics would be forced to leave, he said those with dual citizenship could possibly be asked to move to the other country.

Education Minister Brendan Nelson later told reporters that Muslims who did not want to accept local values should “clear off”. “Basically, people who don’t want to be Australians, and they don’t want to live by Australian values and understand them, well then they can basically clear off,” he said. Separately, Howard angered some Australian Muslims on Wednesday by saying he supported spy agencies monitoring the nation’s mosques.

  Variations:   A January 2008 variant combined elements of this piece with a 2001 editorial about immigrants written by a U.S. Air Force veteran, creating the misleading impression that the hybrid version reflected a speech given by Australian prime minister John Howard. A February 2009 variant attributed the entire combined version to Kevin Rudd, who succeeded John Howard as Australia’s prime minister in 2007.

Origins:   The July 2005 London Tube bombings raised domestic terrorism concerns in countries with large immigrant Muslim populations, such as Australia. The following month, Australian prime minister John Howard held a two-hour summit with moderate Muslim leaders in Canberra to work on a national strategy for addressing intolerance and the promotion of violence, during which issues such as the curriculum of Islamic schools and suggested measures for vetting imams were discussed. The Christian Science Monitor noted of the event:

As other governments have found, however, deciding who represents the Muslim community can be a delicate matter. Large sections of the youth, as well as conservative and more critical clerics, have been left out of Howard’s summit – meaning some of the government’s more aggressive proposals may meet resistance.

But the groups who attended the meeting hailed it as a successful first step in an ongoing dialogue.

“We determined along with the prime minister that there must be more communication between the government and Islamic schools where it comes to teaching common values like democracy, fairness, tolerance and so on, and radicals will be reacted to, whenever they make inflammatory remarks,” says Ali Roude, the acting president of the New South Wales Islamic Council.

“It’s much worse for us now, because 7/7 showed the world that the enemy is to be found within” instead of 9/11 when the terrorists were all foreigners [said the spokesperson for Lebanese Muslims in Australia]. “Now they are suspicious of all of us, and it’s very serious, but the prime minister is only playing politics.”

But some Muslims here have a growing sense that they are being defined within the media by the voices of the extremists, and that an intervention by the government and moderate Muslims to counter such elements would be useful.

“So far it was OK to do your own thing. But if the media is focusing on the extreme elements, we need to do something about it,” says Chabaan Omran, a senior member of the Federation of Australian Students and Youth, an organization that gives religious advice and teaching to young people. “Muslims need to interact more with mainstream Australia.”

This might sit well with recent calls from ordinary Australians asking Muslims to assimilate. But Mr. Omran is worried about the connotations of the word “assimilate,” and talks more of “positive integration without undermining our religion.”

Prime Minister Howard also publicly announced his intent to have Australian intelligence agencies target mosques and Islamic schools in an effort to “stamp out homegrown terrorism and extremists”:

Prime Minister John Howard said on top of trying to promote Australian values in Islamic schools, the Government would monitor what was said in certain schools and mosques to ensure they did not foster terrorism.

Asked whether he was prepared to “get inside” mosques and schools to ensure there was no support for terrorism, Mr Howard was blunt.

“Yes, to the extent necessary,” Mr Howard told Southern Cross radio.

“I have no desire and nor is it the Government’s intention to interfere in any way with the freedom or practice of religion.

“We have a right to know whether there is, within any section of the Islamic community, a preaching of the virtues of terrorism, whether any comfort or harbour is given to terrorism within that community.”

The issue of the integration of Muslims into Australian society prompted controversial remarks by some Australian cabinet ministers, such as this exchange between Treasurer Peter Costello and host Tony Jones on the Lateline television news program on 23 August 2005:

TONY JONES: Now, over the past 24 hours you’ve been repeating the notion that migrants, evidently Islamic migrants, who don’t like Australia, or Australian


values, should think of packing up and moving to another country. Is that a fair assessment?

PETER COSTELLO: What I’ve said is that this is a country, which is founded on a democracy. According to our Constitution, we have a secular state. Our laws are made by the Australian Parliament. If those are not your values, if you want a country which has Sharia law or a theocratic state, then Australia is not for you. This is not the kind of country where you would feel comfortable if you were opposed to democracy, parliamentary law, independent courts and so I would say to people who don’t feel comfortable with those values there might be other countries where they’d feel more comfortable with their own values or beliefs.

TONY JONES: It sounds like you’re inviting Muslims who don’t want to integrate to go to another country. Is it as simple as that?

PETER COSTELLO: No. I’m saying if you are thinking of coming to Australia, you ought to know what Australian values are.

TONY JONES: But what about if you’re already here and you don’t want to integrate?

PETER COSTELLO: Well, I’ll come to that in a moment. But there are some clerics who have been quoted as saying they recognise two laws. They recognise Australian law and Sharia law. There’s only one law in Australia, it’s the Australian law. For those coming to Australia, I think we ought to be very clear about that. We expect them to recognise only one law and to observe it.

Now, for those who are born in Australia, I’d make the same point. This is a country which has a Constitution. Under its Constitution, the state is secular. Under its constitution, the law is made by the parliament. Under its Constitution, it’s enforced by the judiciary. These are Australian values and they’re not going to change and we would expect people, when they come to Australia or if they are born in Australia, to respect those values.

TONY JONES: I take it that if you’re a dual citizen and you have the opportunity to leave and you don’t like Australian values, you’re encouraging them to go away; is that right?

PETER COSTELLO: Well, if you can’t agree with parliamentary law, independent courts, democracy and would prefer Sharia law and have the opportunity to go to another country which practises it, perhaps then that’s a better option.

TONY JONES: But isn’t this the sort of thing you hear in pubs, the meaningless populism you hear on talkback radio? Essentially, the argument is if you don’t like it here, you should go back home.

PETER COSTELLO: No. Essentially, the argument is Australia expects its citizens to abide by core beliefs – democracy, the rule of law, the independent judiciary, independent liberty. You see, Tony, when you come to Australia and you go to take out Australian citizenship you either swear on oath or make an affirmation that you respect Australia’s democracy and its values. That’s what we ask of people that come to Australia and if they don’t, then it’s very clear that this is not the country – if they can’t live with them – whose values they can’t share. Well, there might be another country where their values can be shared.

TONY JONES: Who exactly are you aiming this at? Are you aiming it at young Muslims who don’t want to integrate or are you aiming it at clerics like Sheikh Omran or Abu Bakr both from Melbourne?

PETER COSTELLO: I’d be saying to clerics who are teaching that there are two laws governing people in Australia, one the Australian law and another the Islamic law, that that is false. It’s not the situation in Australia. It’s not the situation under our Constitution. There’s only one law in Australia. It’s the law that’s made by the Parliament of Australia and enforced by our courts. There’s no second law. There’s only one law that applies in Australia and Australia expects its citizens to observe it.

Likewise, Education minister Dr. Brendan Nelson offered his opinion that those who do not accept and teach Australian values should leave the country:

Dr Nelson says those who do not accept and teach Australian values should “clear off”.

One of the recommendations at Prime Minister John Howard’s terrorism summit was for Islamic schools to be encouraged to denounce extremism and teach about Australian traditions and culture.

The Minister says it is important for all groups to be integrated into the Australian community, whatever their religion.

“If you want to be an Australian, if you want to raise your children in Australia, we fully expect those children to be taught and to accept Australian values and beliefs,” he said.

“We want them to understand our history and our culture, the extent to which we believe in mateship and giving another person a fair go, and basically if people don’t want to support and accept and adopt and teach Australian values then, they should clear off.”

The individual statements attributed to Australian government officials included in the e-mail reproduced at the head of this page are thus essentially accurate, but the selectively-quoted excerpts of controversial material from different news stories create the misleading overall impression that Australia enacted a formal policy to force some Muslim groups out of the country. The statements quoted were part of the public debate over an issue that flared briefly in the immediate aftermath of the London Tube bombings, then quietly subsided.

Subsequent versions of this item have been altered to replace the names of out-of-office politicians with their modern counterparts (e.g., Kevin Rudd for John Howard), thereby attributing words and thoughts to people who did not express them.

Last updated:   24 February 2009

The URL for this page is http://www.snopes.com/politics/soapbox/australia.asp

Urban Legends Reference Pages © 1995-2009 by Barbara and David P. Mikkelson.


    Kremmer, Janaki.   “Australia Meets with Muslim Leaders to Root Out Extremism.”

    The Christian Science Monitor.   25 August 2005   (p. 11).

    Osborne, Paul.   “Feds Plan to Target Mosques.”

    Geelong Advertiser.   25 August 2005.

    ABC News Online.   “Minister Tells Muslims: Accept Aussie Values or ‘Clear Off’.”

February 3, 2009

Immigrant facts and furphies

Filed under: race relations — Nayano @ 7:56 am
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“racial tension threatens a real prospect of conflict as the recession bites. I’m not ignoring this issue – I don’t think we can – but I’m just not sure how to blog about it responsibly without inflaming a growing popular anger.” Responsible blogging on immigration – hard to do?

The Raedwald post coincided with a couple of emails that a dear friend forwarded to me, that had been sent to him by other friends of his, with genuine concern. The first was an article in 2002 by Daniel Pipes and Lars Hedegaard asserting that Muslims in Denmark consume a disproportionate amount of welfare spending and make up a majority of the country’s convicted rapists.

I don’t have time to research the facts in Denmark, but here is a research-based article that explodes similar myths about Muslims in America – and I can’t imagine that Muslims in Denmark are hugely different.  

I am as careful as possible on A possie in Aussie to give references, especially when the matter is contentious. It is time-consuming, and can be deflating when I come across something that ‘explodes’ the point I am trying to make in a post. People like Daniel Pipes make a living from writing articles that grab people’s interest – in whatever manner works.

The other email my friend forwarded? Malicious, elderly, but still effective spam mail that begins

“Everyone needs to be aware of this one. God bless our seniors”

And continues with lies that say that Australian residents from a refugee background receive welfare payments that range from double to 10 time that of age pensioners.

If you receive one of these emails, or know of some older people who might be targeted, tell them that anyone receiving this scam email should delete it and should inform the person who forwarded the email that the information it contains is false -or a furphy.

February 1, 2009

Fun with terrorism

Filed under: humour — Nayano @ 9:34 am
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It’s Sunday, so it must be Fun-day. But it’s not easy to find things to do with refugees, asylum seekers and other marginalised migrants that are fun.

I wonder why?

The UNHCR has developed a game based on the refugee experience, but it is not exactly a fun experience, rather too worthy and wordy.

Perhaps they were creating a tie-in to their ‘theme park’?

Although it is not directly related to refuges – although places like this produce many – ‘September 12: A toy world’ is much more riveting – and disturbing.

“The rules are deadly simple. You can shoot, or not.”

January 27, 2009

End racist violence -ban Australia Day?

Filed under: race relations — Nayano @ 7:41 am
Tags: , , ,

Since reading the reports of racially-motivated rioting that happened yesterday I am wondering if we should abolish Australia Day altogether. Mick Dodson, since Australian of the Year yesterday, has revived the debate about when we should celebrate Australia Day. ‘Australian of Year Dodson wants a new day’.

But now, The Australian, in an article titled Racist violence on Australia Day,  published the following

“In the Sydney suburb of Manly, hundreds of youths draped in “Aussie pride” livery wore slogans declaring “f–k off we’re full” as they smashed car windows and ran up the famous Corso targeting non-white shop keepers

A 18-year-old Asian female in one of the cars was showered with shattered glass, giving her numerous cuts to her arms. She was treated on the scene by ambulance officers.
A taxi driven by a Sikh Indian was also targeted while an Asian shopkeeper was reportedly assaulted.
Groups of men jumped up on cars chanting race hate to the terrified passengers within, and were heard singing “tits out for the boys” at passing girls and yelled “lets go f–k with these Lebs”.

At least three other locations in New South Wales have reported similar ‘celebrations’.

I guess that the anti-immigration lobby will use this as ‘evidence’ that we are receiving too many immigrants, or too fast, or ‘not like us’ – but I wonder if stirring up the patriotic, jingoistic spirit is to blame.

Australians never took themselves so seriously – and Australia Day used to pass with no more than a day off – and no racism.

Should we abolish the day altogether?

January 26, 2009

Asylum seekers, illegal immigrants and keeping the peace

Filed under: immigration detention — Nayano @ 2:22 pm
Tags: , , , ,

About 600 migrants and refugees broke out of an overcrowded immigration facility on the Sicilian island of Lampedusa last Saturday to protest their treatment.They forced open the gates at the facility and marched toward the center of the island ….and what did they do? Rioted? Took over the town? Raped and pillaged?

They staged a peaceful protest, which locals joined in (!) and then went back to the camp -without coercion.

This reminds me of the break out from the detention camp at Woomera in outback South Australia in June 2000 when about the same number of detainees, when they reached the centre of the town, staged a non-violent protest.

The report from Italy contrasts with reports from France which claim that more than 1,000 cars were torched on New Year by what Time Magazine names as residents of ‘unemployment-racked, racially tense banlieues’. The blogger at Atlas Shrugs is somewhat less careful of ethnic stereotyping and headlines her post with Muslims torch 1,100+ cars.

I am not quite sure what to make of all this.

In a recent posting I reported that  immigrants of all kinds, including the illegal, are less likely to be involved in crime than others. Even when ‘illegals’ forcibly break out of detention centres they seem to have done so as non-violently as possible. Is France the exception to the rule?

January 11, 2009

Afraid of the dark?

Filed under: race relations — Nayano @ 2:27 pm
Tags: , , ,

In a post I published a few days ago, ‘Test your prejudices’, I quoted Nick Haslam (Online Opinion) who was arguing against the primacy of fear in the creation of prejudice.

When I reflect on my own prejudiced reactions (the ones that I am aware of, at least!) I reckon that fear was pretty much the driver. I remember the first time I met Sudanese migrants – a room full of very tall, very black men, whose language, although English, I could barely understand – and I felt deeply uncomfortable, and a deep and primitive part of me went on ‘alert’. Same situation for my first meeting with Hazara refugees: a room full of men who were, through looks and dress and language, unmistakably ‘other’ to me.

I was lucky enough to be conscious of these reactions in myself and know them for what they were, instead of denying them and letting them transmute into hate. I was also lucky to be in a position which required me to persist in meeting and getting to know these strangers. And my ‘luck’ continued because many of them are now dear friends.

I know that those first reactions of mine were based on nothing more than a primal fear reaction. (And a useful one at that, when we lived with sabre tooth tigers).

My work requires me to talk with people about new migrants, and I cannot remember anyone that I have spoken with who I would label as racist, but I have heard people’s fears. An employer who I visited to lobby for jobs for some Muslim men said ‘My workers are a happy and productive group – I wouldn’t like to put something into the mix that might upset that’. I didn’t hear ‘Islamophobia’ or racism, instead I heard a man afraid of jeopardising his business.

There is a spectrum of reactions to the ‘other’ that range from that gut level fear of the new and different, to fear of destabilising a family, a neighbourhood or a workplace, to the outspoken and outrageous ranting of members of hate groups. Members of xenophobic groups are probably the most fearful of all: fearful that their own fears will be revealed, and also afraid that, having found a ‘home’ of like-minded haters, that they will be ostracised if they recant.

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