Muslims - Green and Gold - in Australia
By C. Naseer Ahmad
Oakton, VA


“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.

 

 



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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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