Some weeks ago there was an article in The West Australian newspaper written by Dr Ameer Ali. The essence of the article was a suggestion from him that Mosques in Western Australia fly the Australian flag for Australia Day. This is a part of that article and it can be accessed in its entirety here:
“Mosques have become a symbol of attack by certain anti-Muslim groups, as seen recently in Melbourne,” Dr Ali said.
“But mosques are the most prominent identity marker of Muslims.
“What the Muslims have to do is to send a strong message to Australians that mosques are an inseparable element in the cultural kaleidoscope and architectural landscape of this multicultural nation.
“By hoisting the national flag in the mosque compound at least on the national day, the Muslim community is reinforcing its unassailable position that it is a community of and not in Australia.
“The national flag and the national anthem are national icons of this country.”
I have my own views about this suggestion. But yesterday I was made aware of a response from a very dear friend of mine, Cathy Groves. Cathy has been a tireless campaigner in the human rights area and worked very hard in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities as well. Her response was sent to the newspaper as a response but did not get a run in their “Letters” page. But as Australia Day approaches this response needs to be made widely available. Her response is reproduced in full below:
“ON ANY OTHER DAY
Dr Ameer Ali has called for mosques to fly the Australian flag on Australia Day – article written in The Weekend West Australian, last weekend.
As distressing as it is, I hope this article enables a broader conversation and action, to change the date the nation has come to know as Australia Day.
Across Australia since 1818, January 26th has been a public holiday – in recognition of the ‘first landing’ by the British. Dr Ali calls for integration and solidarity – I know no other country that celebrates the arrival of colonisers on a day set aside as its national day. Around the world, countries mark their most significant day with its independence.
As a nation we recognise the significant landmark ruling of Mabo v Qld (No. 1), first handed down on 8 Dec 1988. Four years later, on the 3 June 1992 was the beginning of the main decision that held that Australia was a land already occupied – challenging the fiction of terra nullious. (See Mabo v Qld No.2)
This article does not respect all Australians as equal before the law, observes a history told through a prism of Australia’s colonial past and as a consequence calls for a group of people to show their allegiance on a day honouring Captain Arthur Phillip.
The media, as one of our major and most influential institutions could have chosen to educate and inform the public and in doing so, add to a reconciliation which could have done more than the article itself.”
I don’t believe that there is much more that can be added to this response.