The need to unite

Like all governments and peace-loving individuals and organisations around the world, I was disgusted by the outright offensive YouTube clip which portrayed the Islamic faith in a negative way.

[Ed’s note: We’ve chosen not to embed the video referred to here, but you can view it here at your own discretion.]

I’m not a religious person, but I can understand the hurt that would have been felt by Muslims when they heard about this clip. Some of my Muslim friends made that clear to me personally and via social media.
My view of the video is this: it was made by some stupid, irrelevant, hateful bigot whose views are completely inconsistent with those of mainstream, fair-minded and respectful people around the world. The people involved in creating this film should hang their heads in shame for pro-actively promoting hatred when we should all be strengthening intercultural and interfaith dialogue to achieve greater social cohesion. With these kinds of fringe lunatics, the best course of action is just to ensure their hate doesn’t spread widely, and this can simply be done by respecting the differences of others and celebrating the things that bind us as human beings. To take a positive out of this ordeal, I’ve even taken the time to reflect on what a world led by these kinds of evil people would look like, and it isn’t pretty. My resolve for a more unified and multicultural society is actually strengthened as a result.

Nevertheless, I was shocked to see images of the protests held by extremist groups in Sydney over the weekend. I’ll refrain from labelling them as ‘Islamic’, as I know they represent only a fringe minority, similar to the deeply loathed Australian Christian Lobby, which doesn’t actually represent Christians, just its own perverted ideologies while masquerading as an interest group. Almost immediately, various blends of racists, Islamophobes and other hate groups took to social media claiming that they now had ‘proof’ that multiculturalism was a failure and as such, we should return to the grand old days of the discriminatory White Australia Policy.

A successful multicultural society rests upon the efforts of all members to live together in harmony and respect. While I always condemn hateful rhetoric emanating from groups such as the white supremacist Australian Protectionist Party, the violent actions of the protesters in Sydney must be equally condemned, as they were just as spiteful. Now I know that the mainstream media has a tendency to blow these kinds of events out of proportion, and that not all who attended the rally were acting violently, however the purpose of the rally was to flame revulsion, not to try and bring people together. It has absolutely no place in a multicultural Australia where all people are treated equally.

To my fellow Australians of all faiths allow me to say this. Let’s make this occurrence a turning point for our beloved country. Not one which sets us backwards as the Cronulla Riots did, but one where after receiving a small taste of what a society built upon disrespect, hate and division would look like we decided to make more effort to coexist and accept one another.

It is so easy to turn to hate, but much more worthwhile to foster love. Australia in many ways is one of the great miracles of humanity, so let’s keep building a stronger and more united society.

Francis Ventura is an Australian human rights activist and blogger, interested in multiculturalism/anti-racism, Australian democracy, peace and bringing people together in respect and understanding to achieve a common humanity. This piece was republished with permission from his blog here.