27 May Open Democracy: The Place for a ‘Muslim Party’ in Australia
By Tom Edwards
Recent terrorist attacks have escalated tension between the Muslim community and far-right demonstrators. Countless ‘Reclaim Australia’ rallies have taken place right around the country. Such protestors often promote the deportation of Australian Muslims, as well as any cultural roots and customs they may share.
Undoubtedly, this is disenfranchising young Muslims. It is the wrong thing to do. We should not persecute those simply because they may hold a different faith to us. Australia is one of the world’s most culturally diverse communities. We should be proud of the integration of countless international communities to our shores. We are all equal before the law.
Donald Trump has recently suggested that the United States should block all Muslims from entering the country. Such segregation would only lead to greater tension.
Does the presidential hopeful really want to edge the United States closer to that of Saudi Arabia where the government and monarch can prohibit foreigners from visiting the country simply due to their religion?
In the past few months news has emerged that Sydney man Diaa Mohamed is in the process of creating a ‘Muslim Party’ to contest seats at the next federal election. Mr Mohamed said that the party will be formed as a result of growing political activism against Islam.
“We live in a democratic society and people are entitled to form anti-Muslim parties just as people are entitled to form the Muslim Party,” he said.
While some members of the community may be weary of such a move, I say good on them. Any party, whether they are The Greens, Labor, Liberal, the Social Democrats, Palmer United or now even The Xenophon Team should be respected for their desire to run for office.
Policies may be ridiculed and ideas may be mocked yet it is through the passion for the future and the hunger for change that such parties exist. It is in this same light that I would welcome a Muslim Party.
All groups of people are entailed to the democratic right of representing their community. If we were not to allow a Muslim Party to seek this fundamental right it may be considered discriminatory. All parties, whether they are established upon a Christian, Buddhist, Jewish or Muslim foundation should be able to run for office. Needless to say that this right also extends to parties without any religious affiliation.
Do I want to Australia and our way of life to be administered by Sharia Law? God no (pardon the pun). I do however respect why a Muslim might. I can also appreciate how they may simply want a person to represent their views to the greater Australian public. In the same way the Labor and Liberal Party have the right to run for office, so would a Muslim Party.
Australians are proud of their way of life. If a Muslim Party were to run candidates in the next election and a proportion of the community believed that they do not represent the ‘Australian way of life’ there is a simple solution; don’t vote for them.
With the advent of globalisation and unprecedented patterns of migration such issues will grow in prominence. While acknowledging our own cultural roots, we must also recognise that all views in the community have the right to be represented in our parliaments.
Once we have fostered an environment where Muslims and non-Muslims can live together in harmony, then can ease the threat of domestically grown extremists and terrorist sympathisers. Promoting the rise of an Islamic Party will not do this alone but it may advance Muslim views in mainstream Australia where they may otherwise be ignored.