Muslims - Green
and Gold - in Australia
By C. Naseer Ahmad
“The history of human beings
is the history of the movement of people. . They
move out of hope, seeking more from life, a better
opportunity for their children and a safer existence,”
wrote Mike Moore, former Prime Minister of New Zealand,
in an August 10, 2005 column for the Gulf News.
He ought to know that if his ancestors had not migrated
to New Zealand, perhaps he would not have been the
country’s leader and a former Director of
the World Trade Organization.
Across the seas, from New Zealand and America, Australia
is yet another land of opportunity. A visit to Melbourne’s
Immigration Museum educates visitors about many
human beings who found a new life and made Australia
the magnet, which it is for today’s immigrants.
The lubricant for Australia’s growth engine
is the country’s multiculturalism policy.
The welcome mat of this policy invites immigrants
with incredible green optimism to turn earth’s
dust into gold in Australia.
They identify themselves with colors of Australia’s
sports teams and they are rooting for their success.
For them, Rod Laver and other Australian heroes
are hallowed names.
Ask Laeeque Choudhry, a realtor in St Mary, New
South Wales about the recent cricket test match
between England and Australia. “I went to
bed assured that Australia had beaten England. I
had a good night’s sleep,” he said.
Little did he know that England had squeaked a victory
on the field that night.
Temporary setbacks on the sports fields or slumps
in the real estate do little to deter immigrants
like Chaudhry. They continue to toil day and night
to realize the dreams for which they migrated to
Australia. They do so because they have faith in
Australia’s multicultural environment and
they firmly believe that they will succeed.
Unfortunately, the tragedies of September 11, 2001,
Bali and London bombings have cast a dark cloud
of suspicion on the beliefs, faith and loyalty of
immigrants around the world. Australia is no exception
to this state of anxiety. Pessimists and nay-sayers,
in the print and broadcast media, are becoming increasingly
bold in questioning Australia’s multiculturalism.
Reading between the lines of some opinion makers,
Australia’s new immigrants will remain suspicious
even if they paint themselves white and change their
name from Choudhry to Chambers.
But faith is an integral part of human beings. Those
who aspire to do good will do so against all odds.
Those who consider religion essential for human
development will assimilate without losing their
identity and true self.
“There is a need for religion, as it opens
to man the door to expanses in life,” wrote
Choudhry’s teenage daughter Najam Sehar, University
of Sydney pre-medical student, in an award winning
essay for a national competition organized by an
Australian Muslim Community. Like her other four
siblings, Sehar has a passion for excellence and
service to humanity. To help fellow human beings,
Chaudhry’s burqa-clad wife pounded the neighborhood
streets to collect $400 for the Red Cross.
The Choudhry family is not alone. The Blacktown
City Sun (August 2, 2005), quoted Amjad Khan, president
of an Australian Muslim youth association, saying,
“We’re Australians first and Muslim
second. Islam is our religion (not nationality).
Our members are taught to abide by Australian laws
and are loyal to this country.”
A visitor will find impressive energy and economic
vitality in the immigrants’ neighborhoods
of Auburn, Blacktown, Rooty Hill and St Mary near
Sydney as well as other cities like Melbourne. Visitors
of the past perhaps found the same growth prospects
in the neighborhoods where the ancestors of John
Howard and other Australians found a new life. It
seems that with the multicultural environment the
best days of Australia are yet to come.