Someone on my Fb page mentioned a demo by Muslims against ISIS that was completely ignored by the western mainstream media. I can understand the writer being puzzled; in Europe, ok there have been battles based on conflicting religions since the crusades. That event consisted of the christian knights on their way to the holy lands, slaughtering Jewish communities along the Rhine, perhaps to practise their sword skills.

Where I live, in Australia, white people venerate their ancestors, convicts preferably, bushrangers also, although laws were in place that allowed settlers to shoot to kill. They were also able to behave thus against the indigenous people. All that myopic activity spans 200 plus years.

Here, the current ultra right winger, Pauline Hanson, has described the presence of Muslim settlers as a disease, against which we must vaccinate ourselves; despite last week leading an anti-vaccinate crusade, saying that children could be pre-tested to determine if a negative reaction could happen. When she was informed that this was incorrect she quietly withdrew her support of that cause.

Just today, a cyclone is at work along the far northern Queensland coastline; a town mayor interviewed by ABC used the expression “drawn to Mecca” or “collecting at Mecca”, in a cavalier, tourist context. Since my early school days, this has been a metaphor freely in use. Of course, it is well known that the city is sacred to Muslims, who must make a pilgrimage there at least once in their lifetime. It is surely a characteristic of the dominant culture that slights to sub-cultures are hardly recognised, much less the possibility of constructing an equal one, equivalent in offensiveness, as a retort. Consider, on pub night: “we’re going to the pub, it’s a Vatican for riotous good times” hardly makes sense, much less a reference to Westminster Abbey.

We have a long way to go, doing the first thing that will encourage Muslim newcomers to feel welcome if extremism is to be avoided.


About anton veenstra

tapestry weaver, fibre artist, gay/qr activist, multiculturalist
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