Tuesday, July 12, 2005

On Assimilation & Hatred

On the morning of 11 July 2005, I was interviewed by Mike Jeffreys on 2CC. Mr Jeffreys kept asking me questions. I kept questioning his questions and their relevance to his listeners. We ended up being irreverent to each other, and the discussion became irrelevant to all listeners. The interview eventually degenerated into a match to see who could be the bigger smartass.

That’s life on talkback. Irrelevant questions followed by irreverent answers.

The question posed to me which really sent shivers up my spine was the one on assimilation. Mr Jeffreys asked me why more Muslim Australians don’t assimilate. What shocked me about this question was that it was being asked in Canberra, was being broadcast from a studio in Canberra and was being broadcast to Canberrans.

For me, it was easy to dismiss the question as the rant of an irrelevant shock-jock struggling to reach double-figures in the ratings. But after terminating the call and complaining to 2CC management, I then thought about the question further. And one image came into my mind.

It was the image of Srebrenica. Almost exactly 10 years ago, over 7,000 innocent civilians of this Bosnian town were massacred in cold blood. They were murdered in the presence of UN troops sent to protect them. The people of Srebrenica were the subject of a horrendous policy of ethnic cleansing ordered and carried out by some of the most despicable human beings ever to walk the earth in the 20th century.

Why should I think of assimilation and Srebrenica together? The people of Srebrenica were largely Muslim. But they had the same coloured skin and hair and eyes as their Christian neighbours. They intermarried with Christians and Jews and other denominations. They were not exceptionally observant and followed mainstream Bosnian values. Many openly drank, bought and sold alcohol.

Some 40% of Bosnian children are born into interfaith families, where parents are of different faiths. If anyone could teach Muslim Australians something about assimilation, it would be Muslim Bosnians.

But did this assimilation stop the massacre? Did it stop Serbian troops from executing their neighbours and their relatives? Did it stop teenage Serbs from killing their former school teachers?

The slaughters in Srebrenica were repeated in other cities, including the capital Sarajevo. The central square of this beautiful city hosted 4 houses of worship – the Great Synagogue of Sarajevo, an Orthodox Cathedral, a Catholic Cathedral and the Gazi Husrev Baig Mosque. Bosnians of all faiths would visit each other’s churches and mosques and synagogues.

It was this spirit of love between faiths that led to Sarajevo being awarded the winter Olympics. This same spirit led to Sydney winning the Olympics in 2000. When Muslim Australians invited IOC delegates from Muslim countries and refused to let them leave until they pledged on the Quran that they would vote for Sydney, it was clear that the Sydney spirit was alive and well. And that same spirit was reflected in the words of London’s Mayor Ken Livingstone during speeches before and after the bombing.

Terrorists are opposed to this spirit of togetherness and understanding. Terrorists want us to turn against each other. Terrorists are determined to hate. And what drives terrorists into fits of rage is when they see Muslims and Jews and Christians and Hindus and Buddhists and people of other faiths and no faith in particular living side by side in peace and harmony.

Real understanding and peace can exist whether people assimilate or not. But it won’t happen in an environment where people are determined to hate. Because the real source of terrorism is not religion. The real source of terrorism is hatred.

Religions teach us to love. In the Jewish tradition, Rabbi Hillel spoke of love for others when he asked his students: “If I am not for myself, who is for me? If I care only for myself, who am I?”. In the Christian tradition, St Paul said that love was even greater than faith and hope. And the Islamic traditions are filled with references to love for God’s creation, from Qur’anic verses and sayings of the Prophet to ecstatic poems of Rumi and other Muslim saints.

Assimilation is not enough to defeat determined hate. Minority and majority faith communities can assimilate all they like. The only thing that will defeat extremists is the divine force of love. And this love is not the empty drug-induced idealism of hippy songs. This love is built on knowledge and understanding and recognition that we are all different. And that the things that unite us are more important than those which divide us.

(The author is a Sydney industrial lawyer.)

© Irfan Yusuf 2005

14 comment(s):

  • Strike terror (into the hearts of) the enemies of God and your enemies. Surah 8:60 al-Anfal 8:60

    Fight (kill) them (non-Muslims), and God will punish, (torment) them by your hands, cover them with shame. Surah 9:14 at-Taubah 9:14

    I will instil terror into the hearts of the unbelievers, smite ye above their necks and smite all their fingertips off them. It is not ye who slew them; it was God. Surah 8:12-17 al-Anfal 8:12-17

    Mohammed is Allah's apostle. Those who follow him are ruthless to the unbelievers but merciful to one another. Sura 48:29 Al-Fath 48:29

    Mohammed said, "I have been ordered to fight with the people till they say, none has the right to be worshipped but Allah." Hadith vol. 4:196

    Mohammed once was asked: what is the best deed for the Muslim next to believing in Allah and His Apostle? His answer was : "To participate in Jihad in Allah's cause" Al Bukhari vol. 1:25



    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/13/2005 04:40:00 PM  

  • Precisely!! That is the TRUE nature of Islam (which literally means SUBMISSION when translated from the Arabic word Islam)


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/13/2005 04:43:00 PM  

  • Thank you for this excellent post Br. Irf.

    By Blogger UmmAli, at 7/13/2005 05:44:00 PM  

  • I take everything back. Please accept my apologies. Islam is a beautiful religion and Muslims are wonderful people. I'm sorry for my rude comments, please erase my previous comments. Thank You,

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/14/2005 06:37:00 AM  

  • Dear Anonymous,

    Thank you for your analysis. Please allow us to return your favor and let us know what religion you follow, so we can find if similar quotes exist in your scriptures.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/14/2005 10:30:00 AM  

  • I am a cowardly-bigoted scizophrenic who doesn't have a life. I wish I got laid but no worries, I will unload here. My greatest dream is to see all Muslims irradicated. It will be a slow process but lets get the party started. I love Muslims, they are so easy!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/14/2005 03:22:00 PM  

  • Hi Anonymous (at 7/14/2005 03:22:41 PM )

    No...no I’m not a cowardly-bigoted schizophrenic. Allow me to give you some insight into my thinking. You see I am a pathetic Muslim immigrant I come to the west not unlike thousands and thousands of my brethren who fester in the west, we come to countries like the U.S., Britain, Spain, France, Nederland, Germany ect..ect. Once arriving on the shores of the host nation which has kindly open their arms into letting many of my kind in, to begin with. We abuse their quite gracious and lucrative social welfare system. We also increase the crime, and drug rates of these wonderful countries.

    After a period of time of living in my host nation, I generally become complacent and start to question the values of my host nation. I start feeling that my host nation’s ridiculous notions of equal rights for women, and attitudes about freedom, disgust me. (You see where I come from, and what I’m used-to is a paternalistic society where the individual and what he/she wants is immediately dealt with in a harsh full manner, and rightly so! It is the rule of Islam that I follow, I suppress my individual desires) So I then continue with adding to the crime rate. Eventually my brethren and I begin to feel that our state of affairs is a result of our environment. I have come to a new nation and have not fulfilled my own dreams and my frustration leads me to one conclusion; a they made me do it, mentality if you will. I’m victimized by these foreign people in this foreign land with foreign customs and values. Sure enough, there are many others like me who feel the same. In fact I find solace in my mosques, from family members, friends, from Aljazera news, from Blogs like Ihsan who (Thank Allah) keep reminding me that WE ARE THE VICTIMS. That we Muslims; our nations our people, my lot in life is a result of the evil doings of the west. I AM A VICTIM. THEY ARE THE PERPETRATORS!!! THE WEST IS MY ENEMY!!! (I.E. The people in Africa are starving due to some financial conspiracy, the west has committed) (You see; my lack of an education and my environment has made me too ignorant to realize that nations that borrow too much get themselves into debt, and the fact that most nations which borrow these large capital inflows are abundantly corrupt)

    So I will go on and ride your tubes and metros, your buses...I’ll serve you, your Shwarma…and at times may even call myself a Brit, an American or a Spaniards but only when it suits me; when I’m back home in my native land for example and I wish to brag about my new home...but know this...deep down I have a contempt and resentment for you and this foreign land. For I know I could never be an American, a Brit, or a Spaniard nor would I ever want to be one…nor integrate into this foreign culture...

    Thank you, all of my brothers who post articles here on Ihsan, thank you for making me feel and reiterating what I know...That we are the “VICTIMS”.

    -From someone who sees right through all the crap that’s posted on here!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/14/2005 10:10:00 PM  

  • dear anonymouse, it's really sad your life must be miserable i on the other hand am white convert to islam born to catholic parents in uk i feel that terror is a fruit of the seeds sowed by my government

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/15/2005 07:27:00 AM  

  • Well hello Anonymous 7/14/2005 10:10:49 PM:

    What’s more sad; a white man who in his late twenties or thirty-something converts to become a Muslim, due to some lingering childish parental rebelliousness growing up. Not to mention the fact that he now finds himself getting a hard-on over shwarma…and dark skinned women? Or someone who is tired of the PC rhetoric and blatantly speaks the truth?

    Terror and Terrorism my friend are act caused by envy, fear, and intolerance. These sentiments are fanned by the articles written in this blog, Algezira news, and others in the Muslim religion. Don’t be fooled into thinking that YOU, and others in your government are to be blame when an act of terrorism occurs. Your one line argument that we are somehow to blame is ridiculous. Your line of thinking would have me and others to believe that, “If a woman happens to be wearing a miniskirt and walks down the street is only inviting others to rape her” If she is raped who is at fault? You would have me to believe it is her fault. NO!! it is the fault of those who view women that dress provocatively and have grown up in an environment in which a woman, who dresses like this, almost deserves what she has gotten.

    Here’s a small list:
    Date Place Event War Casualties 1979 Nov 4 Tehran, Iran US Embassy seized 51 American hostages held for 444 days 1983 Apr 19 Beirut, Lebanon US Embassy bombed 63 killed, 17 American including entire CIA staff in Lebanon 1983 Oct 23 Beirut, Lebanon Marine barracks bombed 241 American servicemen killed, 100+ others wounded 1983 Oct 23 Beirut, Lebanon French barracks bombed 58 paratroopers killed 1984 Sep Beirut, Lebanon US Embassy bombed 14 killed 1984 - 1988 Beirut, Lebanon Hostage takings 17 Americans taken hostage, 3 killed 1985 Jun 14 Beirut, Lebanon TWA 847 hijacked Navy diver Robert Stethem killed; body dumped from plane onto tarmac 1985 Aug Frankfurt, Germany U.S. base bombed 2 killed, 1 soldier killed for ID papers 1985 Oct Eastern Mediterranean Achille Lauro hijacked 1 American, Leon Klinghoffer, killed because he was Jewish 1985 Nov Malta EgyptAir flight hijacked 1 American killed 1986 Apr Berlin Germany Disco bombed 1 American killed, 1 German killed 1988 Dec 21 Lockerbie, Scotland Pan Am 103 blown up 270 killed, 189 Americans 1993 Jan Langley, Virginia CIA HQ attacked by gunman, Mir Aimal Kasi 2 American killed, 3 wounded 1993 Feb 26 New York City World Trade Center bombed 6 Americans killed, 1,000 injured 1993 Mogadishu, Somalia Firefight 35 American servicemen kiled, bodies are dragged thru the streets on display 1995 Mar Pakistan Diplomats assassinated 2 Americans killed 1995 Nov 13 Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Car bomb 7 killed, 5 Americans 1996 Jun 25 Dhahran, Saudi Arabia Khobar Towers bombed 19 Americans killed, 500 wounded 1998 Aug 7 Dar es Salaam, Tanzania US Embassy bombed 11 killed 1998 Aug 7 Nairobi, Kenya US Embassy bombed 212 killed, 12 Americans 2000 Oct 12 Yemen USS Cole attacked 17 American service men killed 2001 Sep 11 Pennsylvania Plane hi-jacked, diverted toward Washington DC 45 killed 2001 Sep 11 Washington DC Plane hi-jacked, Pentagon attacked 43 killed 2001 Sep 11 New York City World Trade Center destroyed 2,8000 killed 2002 Jul 4 Los Angeles LAX - El Al ticket counter shooting, Hesham Mohamed Hadayet 2 killed, gunman killed 2002 Oct 6 Yemen French oil tanker suicide attack

    (These acts of terrorism have been going on for quite sometime, way before the UK decided to help the U.S. in Iraq)

    My friend, get your head out of your ass-

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/15/2005 09:28:00 AM  

  • dear anonymous i wish i had converted when i was 20 something i didn't i was 58 when i accepted islam but as american you are excused for not checking facts before passing judgement

    for terrorism commited by us and west please see http://ihsan-net.blogspot.com/2005/07/terrorist-networks-terrorist-states.html

    and to dispel myth of good ol us military see http://www.smh.com.au/news/Opinion/Wars-moral-compass-is-flawed-and-points-in-all-directions/2005/05/11/1115585029178.html

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/15/2005 12:24:00 PM  

  • I am an ediot, who doesn't have a life. Don't paint the US as being innocent, they are from it. Mingling in the politics of another region will always create enemies. Do you think the Muslim world has the only problem with the US. Think about China, Russsia, Europe, Cuba, South America and so and so...

    I need to get my head out of my ass.

    See ya,

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/15/2005 06:59:00 PM  

  • On top of being an ediot, bigoted-cowardly scizo, I leave words out of my sentences. "far" "on".

    I apologize for my last post. It 's understandable since, I am slowly getting my head out of my ass.

    I love Islam and especially Muslims.


    ps Did I tell you that I also have an alcohol problem?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/15/2005 09:17:00 PM  

  • Perhaps in my quick typing I may have omitted a few words here and there…but believe me you better brush up on some “American” what the hell are these words….(scizophrenic, ediot)…you better unloosen that towel you have draped around your head...your not letting in any oxygen-in

    Look friend, I’m not at all against you and your kind blowing yourselves up. On the contrary I encourage you to do it…but do it in your own living rooms, mosques, and generally in an environment where there are many of your kind around…the more the merrier....

    "Allah ackba!!"...he cries-out...just before he blows himself up...

    Late Hommie!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/15/2005 11:24:00 PM  

  • Just call me Bigot-Anonymous.

    Later Hommie,

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/16/2005 07:31:00 AM  

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