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Engage not Isolate
09 December 2014
It was just an invitation to speak at a forum to discuss
ways to tackle Islamophobia within West Australia arranged by the Racial Ethnic
and Equality Labor. Beside myself as the lead person for Ethnic Communities
Council of Western Australia (ECCWA), other prominent speakers were Senator Sam
Dastyari from NSW, Hon. Margaret Quirk , Yasmin Majid from Youth without
borders and Aziz Khan the Secretary General of Islamic Council of WA.
As a routine practice the news was posted on ECCWA facebook
and within a day the backlash from community leaders was surprising with
comments like ECCWA should not engage in this discussion and the President
should take the consent from the Management Committee as well as provide a
brief what she is going to say at the forum.
On reflection, there are two interesting aspects, one the
backlash was from the leaders who are not even on ECCWA facebook page www.facebook.com/ECCWA and as they
mentioned they heard it from someone who is on facebook and the second aspect
is that ECCWA is the peak body of ethnic and migrant communities and its core
Participation, Inclusion, representation
Integrity, respect and responsibility
Based on these values, the member organisations have
identified that ECCWA will increase awareness of and address issues
relating to racism, discrimination and Community harmony within ethnic and the wider communities as mentioned in the ECCWA
Strategic Plan 2014 – 2016.
Yet not so interesting but rather sad aspect is this
backlash that I faced, was coming from the leaders of community organisation.
Was it because of me as a woman, me as a Muslim woman or me as a Muslim woman
leading the peak body in WA is not clear?
All the ethnic communities’
councils have been very vocal in raising their concerns with support from their
The evidence present in form of recent research supports
that neither the national identity is formed nor national engagement occur if
the ethnic minorities face discrimination. One should be very clear that a safe Australia
is everyone’s business however we have seen that it is only left for Muslim
communities and Muslim religious leaders to DO and ACT to counter react with
Islamophobic segments. While it seems that the relevant groups are engaged yet
truly speaking this approach is creating segregation rather than social
The ignorance on part of the leader of communities as to
their role in issues like this further
supports as they can play a vital role in the process if they agree in
principle what we aim to achieve through social inclusion. This means that we
need to search for an inclusive model that could address what we as a nation
want to achieve keep in in view that the safety of Australia and Australians is
paramount to everyone.