Neighbour Misunderstandings

Jun 13th, 2008, in IM Posts, by

Visiting Indonesian Muslim leaders discover that Australia seems to be a haven of tolerance and religious freedom.

Mohamad Rapik, said to be prominent in Indonesian Muslim youth organisations, and a lecturer in Islam Studies at Universitas Jambi, says he is struck by the climate of religious freedom in Australia.

Rapik is in Australia along with the head of the Pondok Pesantren Modern Assalaam in Solo, Bambang Arif Rahman, and the Director of the Pusat Muslim Moderat (CMM), Muhammad Hilali Basya, as part of an Australian Muslim-Indonesian Muslim exchange/study program.

He said many Indonesians had the impression, drawn from the period of John Howard's rule, that Australia was no different from other western countries in enmity to Indonesia and the Islamic world.


Happy Australian Muslim tv presenter on "Salam Cafe".

However from his observations and talks with Australian Muslims he found that, for example, Muslim women were free to wear the jilbab without any disapproval from the government, that Muslims had full religious freedom, and even had their own television program, "Salam Cafe", on a government owned station, SBS.

Bambang Arif Rahman from Solo agreed and said he now had a much better, more proportional view of Australia:

I had no idea that there were so many Muslims here, so many Middle eastern restaurants, Indian and Indonesian restaurants, and so many mosques. And the jilbab is allowed here, unlike in France.

However the head of Islam Studies at Melbourne University, Professor Abdullah Saeed, of uncertain nationality, said there were some problems, such as in the Sydney suburb of Camden, where local people were vociferously opposed to the building of an Islamic school. [1]


38 Comments on “Neighbour Misunderstandings”

Pages: [1] 2 »

  1. avatar Mach Jabber says:
    June 13th, 2008 at 1:28 am

    Peace to the world.

  2. avatar timdog says:
    June 13th, 2008 at 5:05 am

    Bless ‘em… glad they’re having a nice time in Australia…

    Sorry, I’m feeling a little odd right now having just been browsing my old local newspaper online, and having discovered that a planned Asian community centre in my native neck of the woods has been attacked, a pig’s head nailed to the door, racist grafitti and Cornish Nationalist (huh?) slogans daubed on the walls… meanwhile, local Methodist preachers are angrily protesting against the launch of a pole dancing night at a terrible nightclub I used to frequent in my youth… oh, and the Asian community centre was a disused former Methodist chapel… I’m sure there’s some post-modern irony floating around somewhere in all that… I’m not really sure why I’m sharing this with you, but as I say, I’m feeling a little odd… perhaps I should move to Australia; sounds nice down there…

  3. avatar Casasa says:
    June 13th, 2008 at 8:04 am

    Religious freedom and tolerance is great. You believe in what you believe in and I’ll believe in what I believe in. If only we were all like that (dang suburb of Camden!). I think I would like to go to an islamic school, then I would learn about the Quran and and how to speak Arabic.

  4. avatar kinch says:
    June 13th, 2008 at 8:49 am

    Indonesians who have not seen much of life overseas do tend to have some strange preconceptions. I remember an Indonesian student who had just arrived in Brisbane to study something in mid 2002 being terrified of being a victim of riot or assault after the Bali bombings. She couldn’t get her head around the concept that a mob wasn’t going to hunt her down and do unspeakable things to her. Of course, back on Java this *is* the default mode of behaviour when anything a bit stressful happens. This wasn’t a Chinese either… she was Javanese/Acehnese, her late father had been someone fairly important (i.e. had been able to garner a massive amount of graft) and had seen a bit of the world in the sense of having been inside Gucci stores on several continents.

    The other issue is that Western media is 99.9% ‘progressive’/left-wing and does little else but churn out anti-Western propaganda these days. It’s very easy for Indonesian and other media to cherrypick content to back up any argument that we whiteys are all some kind of Nazis.

    The bit missing in the mention of the Camden Islamic school is that it is clearly funded by Saudi money (via a stopover in some Malaysian foundation’s bank account). We all know this means it’s not going to be the Mister Happy brand of Islam it will be propagating. Australians are not totally ignorant beer-swilling idiots – they have a dim grasp of the difference between different flavours of Islamic belief and culture… and there are two which they particularly don’t like very much – Salafism and the feral Bekaa Valley Shi’ism of the Lebanese ‘refugees’ (strange considering they come from the winning side in that war) who have made certain suburbs no-go areas for the rest of us.

    Folks also don’t take too kindly to male relatives killing females because they wore too revealing clothing or talked to a male stranger – i.e. there is massive distaste for primitive Arab tribal culture – as well there should be. It’s not at all racist to be disgusted by a disgusting thing.

    For an idea of how tolerant things generally are, Melbourne has very large Greek Orthodox and Turkish Muslim immigrant populations. Both seem to manage to muddle along peacefully without any trouble.

    TD: I love the bit about Cornish Nationalists – If everybody else is allowed to differentiate themselves and play at being victims, why not smugglers and tin miners too?

  5. avatar djoko says:
    June 13th, 2008 at 11:08 am

    The whole Camden school thing is overrated and a case where some Muslims have gone ‘rights mad’ to the point where they’re blind to any other considerations. Its obvious that Camden is full of bogans and they don’t want an Islamic school there, so why Muslims are still adamant about putting one there I dont know. If one does eventually go up I can only see it being vandalised every second weekend (or every weekend if there’s enough grog to go around).

    Some quality bits came from Salam Cafe about the whole Camden thing though:

    One guy opposed to the school said on camera: “my kids don’t speak Islamic!” (hmm isn’t it conservative commentators that harp on and on about how Islamic is not a religion, not a race or even in this case a language?). This is perhaps one of the Australians that kinch was mentioning who can tell the subtle differences between different kinds of Islam.

    A leader of a Camden residents group said that they community was being portrayed unfairly in the media because they were focusing on the rantings of a few. Welcome to the Muslim experience!

  6. avatar kinch says:
    June 13th, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    There is no doubt that Australia has its own underclass of scumbags and I don’t make any excuses for them… except that they do not so often kill their daughters for looking the wrong way at strangers… and generally speaking bogans are not actually going about preaching the eventual overthrow of their host society in the way that muslim fundamentalists in Australia have been known to do.

    It is quite likely that some Camden residents CAN articulate sensible reasons why they don’t want a nest of Salafism in their community…. but you will never hear them. Tell me Djoko, do you SERIOUSLY believe that an SBS producer would allow any sensible, reasoned objections by white Australians to make it into his 30 minutes or so of program.. or would such a producer make sure that whitey was represented by some incoherent ranting types? That was a rhetorical question, BTW.

  7. avatar Saipul says:
    June 13th, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    I was quite surprised the first time I went overseas as well. I studied in an American university in a small Midwestern town with 85,000 people. It was quite shocking to see two mosques in the town.

  8. avatar kinch says:
    June 13th, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    Saipul: I’m also sure you might have been a bit surprised to note that life in a small Midwestern town was not anything remotely like the impression of life in the US one gets from TV and movies.

    Our perceptions are warped by news and entertainment media… this works in both directions… not just from West looking East.

  9. avatar kinch says:
    June 13th, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    Having said that, I’m reminded of the infamous case of one Sayyid Qutb and his total mental breakdown when faced with the terrors of the sexually wild cesspit of that well-known Sodom and Gomorrah, Greeley Colorado in 1948 :)

  10. avatar diego says:
    June 13th, 2008 at 9:05 pm

    I was shocked, the first time I came to another country (not any of the malay countries), to find out that the inhabitants are also human.

    Ehm… ember.

  11. avatar rima says:
    June 13th, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    jilbab is not forbidden in france. only in schools – but in schools, not only jilbab, all things symbolizing any religion are forbidden, which is a good thing i think.

  12. avatar Lairedion says:
    June 13th, 2008 at 10:25 pm

    rima,

    Exactly. And the deafening silence towards Turkey on the jilbab matter is exemplary for the Muslim hypocrisy.

  13. avatar Shloka says:
    June 13th, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    @ Djoko,

    If you think that the Muslim experience in non Muslim lands is bad, not a single Church\temple in Saudi for its millions of Christian\Buddhist\ Hindu guest workers, compulsory conversion to Islam for anyone marrying a Muslim in Malaysia, forced conversion of Non Muslims to Islam in Indonesia and Pakistan among others, forced hijab on non Muslim women in Saudi and Iran etc- don’t you think the non Muslim experience in Muslim lands is worse?

    The Ahmadiyya sect is not banned or prosecuted in Europe, like it is Pak and Indo. Christians of Europe almost always hurt the Muslims with words- like sarcastic comments on Islam, movies\ books etc. The Muslims on the other hands prefer to let their actions do the talking when they are in the majority- like dragging a non Muslim woman to prison if she’s not wearing hijab, forced conversions to Islam and physically attacking religious freedom rallies. During Indonesian riots, Christian women were forcibly converted to Islam and made to undergo FGM. Has even Geert Wilders forced Muslim women to convert to Christianity and cut off bits of their pussies?

  14. avatar dewaratugedeanom says:
    June 14th, 2008 at 12:10 am

    kinch said

    Our perceptions are warped by news and entertainment media… this works in both directions… not just from West looking East.

    What in the West is considered as hyperbolic amusement and taken with the proverbial grain of salt is in the East often taken for the truth, not in the least because for most Easterners the experience of the real West is far more restricted. A great deal of the ‘clash of cultures’ is actually based on engineered media images that had no real basis in reality but were only meant to stimulate curiosity and sales. But it gave rise to the perception in the East that Western women are loose, Western men are cynical gangsters and that money grows on trees.
    Nevertheless it has to be said that to a certain extent for some Westerners the same media also helped in shaping a morality which originally was only a fantasized attraction.

  15. avatar Lairedion says:
    June 14th, 2008 at 12:49 am

    Muslims don’t have sh*tty lives at all in Western nations. They can enjoy all the liberties, rights and benefits like anybody else and their rights as religious and partly ethnic minorities are guaranteed in the Constitution. If they feel being discriminated against they have all the legal institutions at their expense (sorry to tell these are not divine but man-made) to seek for justice. We can do without whiners and wankers who are not satisfied enough with freedom of religion for religious activities only and places of worship.

  16. avatar M says:
    June 14th, 2008 at 2:03 am

    …that Australia was no different from other western countries in enmity to Indonesia and the Islamic world.

    He has to travel to other western countries too, to see that anywhere else is fine. Even in Israel, many Muslims live next to Jew in peace. This is why i endorse foreign donor to give scholarships to pesantren students.

  17. avatar Philippe de France says:
    June 14th, 2008 at 3:17 am

    One important point following the reading of this article.
    I quote :
    “Bambang Arif Rahman from Solo agreed and said he now had a much better, more proportional view of Australia:
    I had no idea that there were so many Muslims here, so many Middle eastern restaurants, Indian and Indonesian restaurants, and so many mosques. And the jilbab is allowed here, unlike in France.”

    Bambang Arif Rahman should be more aware of the situation in France before saying so counterfeit information.
    The Jilbab is not ban in France; every women could wear it and anywhere, except for pupils in public schools (public schools only !) and in public office if the woman work as a civil servant. That’s all. Everywhere else the jilbab is allowed.
    So, please do not propagate such error. This kind of false information just feed misunderstanding and also hate. Such things serve only the propaganda of islamic hardliners; they use so-called “evidence” (the ban of jilbab in France) to justify and proove their bad action and behaviour here and there. And some people beleive them unfortunatelly because they don’t know the truth.

  18. avatar Aluang Anak Bayang says:
    June 14th, 2008 at 7:38 am

    @ Philippe de France

    The Jilbab is not ban in France; every women could wear it and anywhere, except for pupils in public schools (public schools only !) and in public office if the woman work as a civil servant. That’s all. Everywhere else the jilbab is allowed.

    The French government is infested with Jews and they are trying to discriminate Islam stealthily. Banning the jilbab in schools and public offices is one small step toward full-blown demarcation. Good try by the French government but not one country can subdue Islam, the one true religion, for long. Islam is the religion for all mankind and is set to displace Christianity.

  19. avatar Casasa says:
    June 14th, 2008 at 10:34 am

    Aluang Anak Bayang

    Why do you care so much about Jews and Christians? Nobody can affect you unless you allow them too and with all your griping about them it’s obvious to the rest of us that you have let their actions bother you way too much.

    Up till now all the conversation on this topic has been positive and informed. It’s all been about understanding misconceptions and increasing tolerance and sympathy to those around us of all nationalities and religions. And up to now it has worked. We are all people under God, no matter what god you believe in. So why are you being such a hater?

    dewaratugedeanom said:

    A great deal of the ‘clash of cultures’ is actually based on engineered media images that had no real basis in reality but were only meant to stimulate curiosity and sales.

    I feel like all this hype about Jews and Christians banding together against islam is just propaganda filtered to the media by a few individuals looking to fulfill a selfish agenda. I grew up in a religion paranoid about getting as many souls as possible into the kingdom of God before it’s too late and that always seemed so unrealistic to me. No one religion will ever satisfy all the billions of people in the world. We are too different.

  20. avatar Aluang Anak Bayang says:
    June 14th, 2008 at 10:47 am

    @ Casasa

    Why do you care so much about Jews and Christians? ….

    My religion tells me that Jews and Christians are the causes of all things evil. Ask any muslim child and he or she will tell you Jews are “pigs and apes”. Christians are lost souls as they worshipped Judas on the cross.

    Up till now all the conversation on this topic has been positive and informed. It’s all been about understanding misconceptions and increasing tolerance and sympathy to those around us of all nationalities and religions. And up to now it has worked. We are all people under God, no matter what god you believe in. So why are you being such a hater?

    I am not here to promote PR-ism like the rest of you. I am here to warn everyone about the wrath of Allah. On the contratry, I am being positive and informative, and HONEST. Speaking of ‘religions’, there is no other religion acceptable except Islam. Sooner or later, everyone including yourself have to answer to Allah SWT. Yes, it is easy to label all Muslim as ‘hater’ like what you did.

  21. avatar kinch says:
    June 14th, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    Hmm… I seem to have mislaid my bacon bits blunderbuss.

  22. avatar Philippe de France says:
    June 14th, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    I must add to be totally understood, that if the veil is ban in France in public school, other religion (catholic, hindu, jews, christian, etc.) also are forbidden to wear or show any religious sign or wear. So the muslims are not targetted by this legal act but all religions without any exception.

    We should first look after and find what unite us and not focalise on our differences ; this is a way to live in peace and as human being in this world.

    By the way, I would like to say that catholocism preach love and unity (in Christ) and not hate and discrimination.

    Personnaly I dislike nobody a priori, except stupid and barbarian people. We could find them in every religion unfortunatelly and among the unbelivers (they are many in each cultural area, id est, christian, muslim, jew, etc.).

  23. avatar Shloka says:
    June 14th, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    @ Philippe de France,

    Sure, Catholicism preaches love and unity, but historically it conducted a lot of intolerance on loads of people, remember “perfidious Jews” Catholic prayer till 1960′s, the Reconquista of Spain, Conquistadores of Mexico et al? Islam would have to work very hard to reach the same level of violence. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Catholicism has loads of good in it, but all religions have conducted and do conduct their share of violence and oppression.

    And as for the veil, two predominantly Muslim nations, Turkey and Tunisia also ban it. And I know a little Sikh boy of France whose parents were distressed when he was forbidden to wear the turban in school. So its definitely for all faiths.

  24. avatar M says:
    June 14th, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    Aluang Anak Bayang;

    My religion tells me that Jews and Christians are the causes of all things evil. Ask any muslim child and he or she will tell you Jews are “pigs and apes”. Christians are lost souls as they worshipped Judas on the cross.

    What is your religion, Aluang, honestly? Why keep making people misunderstanding Islam? I am a Muslim, wearing head scarf living in Europe. I have been perfectly fine living and traveling here. European are experiencing religion phobia in general, because of the experience in medieval era mostly, not so much because of Islam. Stop hating and spreading misunderstanding, will you? That doesn’t help them recovering from their phobia at all! But it sure does make people keep posting comments in this post-if that’s what u are after.

  25. avatar timdog says:
    June 14th, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    M:

    What is your religion, Aluang, honestly? Why keep making people misunderstanding Islam?

    I fear you have misunderstood the nature, role and purpose of Aluang Anak Bayang…
    He’s a very naughty boy (or is he a girl?) and will go to hell for pretending to be something he’s not…

  26. avatar Shloka says:
    June 14th, 2008 at 6:17 pm

    @ Timdog,

    Believe me, I have great respect for your intellect, I read what you had to say about Communism, Hitler and such stuff even though they’ve nothing to do with Islam. I also quite like your obsession with India and Hinduism, even though most readers of this site either don’t know enough about Hinduism to understand all you say or simply are not threatened by it in U.S.A., London and Paris to learn more. Bal Thakaray didn’t bomb Paris like the Algerian Islamists’ you see… However, threatening someone with Hell? Surely there a great many on this site and others with such threats? Now, anyone discussing Islam in a negative way, which of course doesn’t agree with your viewpoint will go to Hell? Et tu, Timdog?

  27. avatar timdog says:
    June 14th, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    @Shloka – I do have something of an obsession with the Subcontinent, and enjoy tangling with anyone about that subject, hence I enjoy your presence here, and do respect you too (despite resorting to a bit of teasing now and again). I also find that for my own benefit it is often helpful to compare Indonesia to the Subcontinent and its component parts in an attempt further to understand both…

    However, you really should be able to tell when I’m not being serious – nothing Aluang Anak Bayang says is serious; he’s sometimes rather funny, though the sheer effort he puts into the joke (331 posts this year) is a little alarming. When I mentioned hell as a possible final destination for his sarcastic soul, I was, very obviously I would have thought, only joking…

  28. avatar M says:
    June 16th, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    timdog said:

    nothing Aluang Anak Bayang says is serious; he’s sometimes rather funny, though the sheer effort he puts into the joke (331 posts this year) is a little alarming.

    M says: well..well..so did the Danish cartoon. funny that i didnt laugh to both. i must have been too serious about my faith.

  29. avatar HeavenlySword says:
    June 19th, 2008 at 4:26 am

    My religion tells me that Jews and Christians are the causes of all things evil. Ask any muslim child and he or she will tell you Jews are “pigs and apes”.

    Islam tells you that? I’m curious to know the reason why Islam tells so. I’m honestly curious, and if you can provide me with logical reasons that will cure my curiosity.

    It’s like that cheesy line in Titanic “you jump, i jump..” Sound like a slave of religion to me than a believer.

  30. avatar Andy says:
    June 19th, 2008 at 8:55 am

    Yes, Australia is a tolerant country. They even have praying rooms in public areas now. A far cry from Indonesia which remains backward, racist and nationalist in the extreme. What have muslims ever done in their own countries to accomodate non muslims?

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