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Has #illridewithyou For Fellow Muslims Overshadowed the Real Issues In Australia?

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By Susmita Abani:

On Monday, Sydney-siders were confronted with a threat they had never witnessed in their lifetime. In a suspenseful, 16 hour ordeal in the heart of our CBD at Martin Place, a lone gunman held 17 hostages inside Lindt Cafe. Police forces surrounded the area till early morning, ending the siege with the devastating deaths of two hostages and the assailant himself. Sydney had been robbed of its integrity, and it will be difficult to recover from the fear of stepping back into the lively city that has always been a focal point of our most treasured moments.

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Photo Credit

Man Haron Monis, the person behind the incident, turned out to be a known criminal, a self-styled Iranian Sheikh. As Muslim Australians braced themselves for backlash against their community as a result of what appeared to be another attack by a Muslim on the West, an incredible campaign emerged from the tragedy that restored their hopes in humanity. The “illridewithyou” hashtag spread through social network, inspiring ordinary Australians to offer support to Sydney Muslims who now dreaded travelling alone. Our conservative PM, Tony Abbot was also impressively tactful throughout the affair, maintaining the view that the actions of an individual madman were not a reflection of any religious group.

Muslims and non-Muslims alike jumped all over the #illridewithyou bandwagon, and news of the hashtag’s success was as prominent as the siege itself. #illridewithyou had overshadowed the real story, the real issues, and had become the mask of political correctness behind which the two sides were hiding their true faces, blurring the deep lines that separated their conflicting interests.

Everyone was too afraid to offend or to anger one another, while I racked my brain trying to figure out what had happened. Was it merely a failure of our judicial system, which had let a mentally unstable criminal slip through its cracks? Or was it the collective effect of geo-politics, religiosity, racism, society and an individual’s response to all of the above?

Let’s analyse premise 1- that religion, and the Muslim community, is not to blame for the folly of one man. From my own Islamic upbringing, I can testify this to be false. We are talking about a community that hurls death threats at cartoonists for drawing Prophet Muhammad, and at authors for penning blasphemous words. I’ve seen members of this community turn on friends who merely questioned their faith.

On September 19th 2014, Monis was interviewed in a Sydney suburb, in a rally of 400 men whose ultimate goal was to re-establish the Caliphate. Their outlook is not entirely unique. The Pew Research Centre report titled The World’s Muslims: Religion, Politics & Society, outlined survey results from 39 countries that found “solid majorities” (greater than 40% and up to 99%) across the “Middle East and North Africa, sub Saharan Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia favour the establishment of sharia” laws including severe corporal punishments for theft, stoning for adultery and death for apostasy.

ABC journalist Chris Uhlman asked our PM today if it’s really Islamaphobic to “notice that [Islam] is a religion that is resistant to criticism and scrutiny, that is utterly incapable of laughing at itself and when it is criticised the reaction often tends to be violent?”Are Australian Muslims really the victims here, or are some of them guilty for creating a culture of hostility toward un-Islamic opinions, thereby bolstering extremist mindsets?

And now for premise 2 – As our PM said this morning, Australia has done nothing wrong to deserve a terror attack. But between 2003 and 2011, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have tarnished relations between Middle East and the West. Brown University hosted the Cost of War project, estimating a total of 200,000 civilian deaths as of 2013, and these are conservative figures, with other studies citing far higher statistics. Australia continues to remain neutral on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict despite the obvious injustices being committed by the Israeli occupation.

Yet Australia is devoid of fault?

In light of recent IS activities, Australia has renewed military operations in Iraq. It has tightened security legislations, including greater access to computer networks and increased liberty to officials for committing crimes during operations. Internet providers may soon begin to retain customer data for 2 years, and the act of “inciting” terrorism, whatever that means, can lead to 5 years detention. A vicious cycle seems imminent: from strengthening security laws to military intervention in the Middle East, followed by a terrorist response.

All of these factors, among many others, are building up to something potentially dangerous. I want both sides to meet in the middle, admit their own flaws, and look at the trail of disaster behind them. Both the Islamic world and the West need to take strides towards real moderation; examine the underlying issues without bias, and make honesty our policy.

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  1. Babar

    Why didn’t anyone bring Christianity in the middle when President Clinton illegally occupied Iraq, imposed sanctions, and President Bush continued the oppression, killing a total of 2 million people, 500,000 of which were children? No one brought Christianity in the middle when President Obama pounded Pakistan with drones and killed thousands of innocent civilians, and terrorized hundreds of thousands of innocent people in North Warizistan. No one talked about Christianity when innocent civilians were horrendously tortured and raped in prisons like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, there was no mention of Christianity when the U.S. supplied Israel with 3 billion dollars in aid to kill innocent Palestinians, no one blamed Christianity for the U.S. led bloodshed in Iran, the bombing in Somalia, the slaughters in Libya, the butchering in Syria, and the list is endless. The U.S. government has killed millions of innocent Muslims since decades in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Panama, Somalia, among a host of other countries, but we mention Islam while talking about terrorism.

    1. tnk

      That is because the so called religion of peace has exterminated millions of people. And don’t get me started about forceful conversions and persecution of minorities in Islamic nations. At least the USA didn’t invade in the name of the mass delusion that is religion. The USA is guilty of blatant violations of human rights, yes, but Islam itself is hardly free from any guilt. It is a death cult built on the blood of innocents.

    2. Babar

      There are good and bad people in every society, and no religion is free of people who perpetrate violence, but that is limited to harming a few at best, and even then, no one brings religion in the middle. Compare that with the millions that the U.S. has slaughtered for money, oil, and power, and it is not a coincidence that the U.S. only invades Muslim countries. It is a strategic and systematic murder of people of a particular religion. U.S. is a racist apartheid state and the biggest only terrorist.

  2. Babar

    That is because the so called religion of peace has exterminated millions of people.

    Please enlighten me about the exterminated ‘millions’. Thanks in advance.

    1. Ramen Das

      “Please enlighten me about the exterminated ‘millions’. Thanks in advance.”

      Do you even read newspapers or only gather you knowledge through Madrasa discourses?

    2. sahil

      Well there are many instances of elimination. start with the almost non existence of christians in a pre dominantly christian middle east post 700 AD and then the forceful persecution of zoroastrians in Iran. In india there was a large scale killing of infidels from times of Ghazni, Ghori and Timur all documented by their very own chroniclers not American or RSS propaganda. Babur as well and he says that in the Baburnama. Then Aurangzeb and Tipu Sultan. In Europe the siege of Constantinople, the Invasion into Europe until it was stopped by Charles Martel. The Ottoman invasions into Europe until they lost in Vienna.

      This is historical and then in present times Pakistan’s proxy war against India. The dwindling population of the minorities in Pakistan.

      Babur people don’t have a problem with Muslims, the problem is they need to wake up and realize that they can’t say America bombed us and play victim all over the world. Terrorism and indoctrination is very much a problem only they can solve. But turning a blind eye and blaming everything on others is just not accepting hard facts.

      Politics and Islam are unfortunately intertwined in the religion and there is no solution but to de merge church and state and keep religion a personal thing. I know you will argue that all all the above are the examples of politically motivated campaigns but trust me since its inception the religion has been used politically and the structure of the religion allows it to be used in that way.

      Not accepting reforms and blaming people isn’t going to solve anything

    3. Babar

      Muslims have been massacred in India since as long as one can remember, and even today in anti-Muslim riots there are 3 Muslims killed for 1 Hindu – Violence against Muslims in India

      As for Christianity, here is an article by John Pigler:

      For centuries now, Christian nations have been busy beating up one Muslim nation or another. In the Middle Ages they came as crusaders. Then they colonized many Muslim countries and tried to destroy their cultures and religion. During their struggle for independence some Muslims had to suffer terrible violence. The French killed about a million Muslims in Algeria because they wanted independence. In Lebanon, when Christians were in the majority there was war, but when Muslims became the majority there was peace except in the South of the country where Christians helped a foreign enemy against their own countrymen.

      What will the Christian be if the tables were turned and their lands were first colonized by Muslims and then bombed or maligned or ethnically cleansed? If the past is any guide, the answer is clear: There will be a vicious reaction and given the chance an attempt at almost total destruction of the Muslims. For in Spain Muslims lived for about 850 years as rulers. They lived with Jews and Christians for the most part in a spirit of tolerance and cooperation in promoting science and culture to the point that their work prepared for the modern scientific revolution with all its benefits for mankind. But the moment Muslims became weaker, the hate in the Christian heart came out with a vengeance. Muslims were either killed, converted, or forced to leave Spain and their heritage was as fully destroyed as was humanly possible. Before Palestine and Kosovo, there was Spain.

      Above, I have mentioned only what the Christian nations have been doing or are doing to the Muslims. But when we look at what they have done to each other or to other people any validity in their claim of being people of love and peace vanishes. The horrible treatment of the heretics and witches in the Middle Ages probably inspired the tyrants of later centuries. The native peoples of the Americas, Australia, and New Zealand bear a tragic witness to what Christian nations can do to other nations and with the blessings and assistance of Christian churches. In this century alone the Western nations have fought two world wars with tens of millions dead and untold misery for the living. For each victory in these two wars the church bells rang in the victorious countries

    4. Voice of reason

      @Babar, you ridiculous bigot, how can you forget partition, the number of Hindus killed were much much larger then the number of muslims, It is because of India and its politics that we were declared Secular, look at Pakistan, all the hindus who were settled in current Pakistan, majority of them were slaughtered like animals. You pseudo intellectuals only know how to blame one side.May be Kashmir should have been with Pakistan, that is politics, what was the fault of the HINDU KASHMIRI PANDITS who were living in kashmir for centuries, why were millions of kashmiris killed and millions displaced, what wrong did they ever do to you, and you talk about violence against muslims, my retarded friend, violence begets violence, you started and now others are retaliating. You talk of crusades, what about the mughal rule in India, those castrated bastards insulted hinduism and also forced conversions but that will never feature in your comments. The countless riots in north east where Hindus were mercilessly killed will never feature in your comment. Yes America is a enemy to humanity, they have singularly destroyed many countries, but having said that, in the current global scenario Muslims and their affiliated terrorist organisations ( not Islam as a religion) are definitely the biggest threat to humanity

    5. Babar

      You can’t write two sentences without abusing, a trait of feminists. I will leave you to watch the above posted video, as you don’t deserve a conversation.

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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