Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Open letter to Mr Rudd: Please act now on racism before it’s too late

Dear Hon Kevin Rudd, PM of Australia
I am writing this letter to sincerely asking you to act immediately to kerb the waves of racism, Islamophobia and discrimination against marginalised people. What prompted me to write this sincere pledge is the mixture of repeated news items about Arabs and Muslims mistreated and my personal experience as one of these.

If you have watched 7 news last night at 6 pm, you would have noticed the documented report about racist cops who treated driver very badly. They did this only because he was driving in “Lebanese” suburb of Punchbowl and he looked like “wog”. The police department did not even show some remorse when asked about the news item by journalist.

I remember that I wrote a letter to the NSW police minister late 2003 about similar story in Bankstown. The then minister denied any racism within the rank of the police force.

I wish to let you know that racism and Islamophobia at the moment has become an epidemic, worse than swine flu one.

You remember that every proposal to build Muslim school was faced with waves of high profile racist opposition. You had not showed any leadership in this area by standing up and defend the Muslims’ rights to build schools they want their kids to go to. Your silence was clear interpretation of supporting these racist attacks. This had led to encourage racists to continue their racist attacks, unabated.

You also had failed Multiculturalism on “Anti-Terrorism” front. We have expected that after your party’s win in 2007 election, that you will work very hard to expose the lies and deception spread by John Howard in this area. But you chose to disappoint all of us and insisted to continue the mockery trials of “terrorist suspects”. Not only this. You clearly have chosen to resort to the same Howard’s tricks by organising media circuses to arrest “suspected terrorists”, who done nothing but telling their wives that they wish to die as martyr. Today we have heard some of your government’s allegations of charges and evidences. It did not make me feel but to laugh, and very loudly. It was deep black laugh. Your department have dared to charge someone for wishing “to die defending his homeland”. Before that, your department have charged someone because he named his son “Jihad” – a very wide spread name in the Middle East. I am considering naming my son Jihad. I wonder if I will be arrested then!!! Not only this. Your government is proposing introducing new wave of “Anti-Terrorism” laws that will make Zimbabwe more democratic than Australia.

In this letter let me express to you my deep disappointment and concern about the high level of racism and Islamophobia we are experiencing under your government. Maybe you have inherited this from your racist predecessor, but your government’s impotence had made thing worse.

Your government’s lack of action on all these issues is sending clear message to the racists and “anti-multicultural” extremists that “our government is on your side”.

I, for example, have written recently to two of your ministers about serious allegations of racism and Islamophobia at workplace, in Bankstown. These practices had affected also multicultural clients with disabilities. To date, I did not receive even an acknowledgment of receiving my letter/complaint. The practices of racism and Islamophobia continue unabated in our Multicultural suburb of Bankstown, under your government’s eyes and nose.

In this letter I would go even further. Because I do care about our beautiful nation, I warn you and your government that matters are going out of hands. “We” cannot continue to live in fear and under heavy discrimination as second or maybe third class citizens. The majority of good law-abiding citizens are losing their faith in the system (I mean democracy and its sisters). If they lose faith in the system completely, you can imagine what would be the consequences. You should remember what happened in Cronulla. This time could be even worse. You also can contact your French counterpart, Mr Sarkouzi, to let you know what had happened in France four years ago when Muslims and Arabs there lost their faith in system and decided to take law in their hands.

At the moment and because of your government decision to ignore all pleads for urgent intervention to kerb racism and Islamophobia, the reasonable voices in the community are losing listening ears.

Mr Rudd
We need strong leader to regain some lost humanity in this great nation, before it is too late. You need to come out from your comfortable white suburb where you live to touch our suffering and feelings. At the end of the day, you are prime mister for all of us, not only for white, blue-eyed Anglo - Saxons.

Monday, August 17, 2009

When racism and Islamophobia come to our ghettoes: My story with DSA management!

We all know that the first step for recovery from any medical, social or economical problem is the recognition of the existence of such problem. Any denial of existence would mean a lack of proper diagnosis, which in turn implies a lack of strategies to solve it.

This is exactly why we are witnessing increasing racism and Islamophobia in the society. The worrying trend is that the racism and Islamophobia is coming to “our” ghettoes. We are hearing now not only racist opposition to build Islamic schools in white dominant suburbs of Campbelltown or Liverpool, but also in the heart of Bankstown. We are not only witnessing attacks on veiled women in the north shore or Liverpool, but in the heart of Merrylands and Bankstown.

My story with DSA is very clear example of racists and Islamophobic people invading “our” suburbs. This invasion is currently going unrecognised and unresisted, mainly because of lack of multicultural representation in decision making bodies at all levels.

The story began when I was offered job with non-for-profit organisation called Disability Services Australia to work with people with disabilities. The job involves trying to find them suitable job, or at least prepare them to enter employment market by identifying their barriers and put strategies to address these barriers until they become job ready.

I was offered the job on mid April 08. After offering the job, the assistant manager told me that the manager had asked him to clarify 2 things before commencing of work at 21 April:
1- What are my views on homosexuality: as many of the managers and colleagues are “lesbians and gays”.
2- Would I have trouble visiting client at their workplace if they are working in pubs and clubs?

Both comments were related to my religion of Islam. I was deeply shocked. I thought it was either mistake or joke, but made me more curious to explore the kind of organisation in the heart of predominantly Muslim and highly multicultural suburb of Bankstown.

While the questions in themselves are non-discriminatory (clearly we cannot discriminate against lesbians and gays) – the fact that I in particular was asked them was indicative of potential issues in the future. Nevertheless, despite these early comments, I had no trouble with this organisation. The organisation is truly full of lesbians and gays, as I was told initially by assistant manager – but that is something does not bother me generally, anyway. The problems with the organisation arose from other sources.

The first serious trouble happened when I was quoted by Sydney Morning Herald in the case of Aminov family demanding their grant of permanent residence immediately. I thought that the management and colleagues would be very proud of me. At the end of the day, I was helping family which included people suffering from multiple disabilities. It was within the declared objectives of the organisation. What happened is the opposite.

I was interrogated and questioned and asked to explain why on my day-off I would help marginalised people with disabilities.

Then at the end of the December 08 I was asked by assistant manager (on behalf of the manager) about why I am talking Arabic in the office. This was the peak of any discriminatory act any citizen can be subjected to:
1- We are operating in area where more than 20% of the residents do not speak English – a large proportion of these are Arabic speaking.
2- The area also has large proportion of Muslim faith – the majority of whom speak Arabic.
3- I have a few clients who do not speak English at all, and so I communicate with them only in other languages (Arabic or Russian)
4- Even if there is suspicion that that some of my time on the phone speaking in Arabic is not with clients, the fact is that other co-workers are talking the whole day about non-work related issues, and in English. No one had targeted them to tell them to speak only about work-related issues in the office. We need to be judged on our outputs – not on assumptions about how much time we spend working directly with clients

These acts of racism, Islamophobia, bullying and intimidation went on and on until I could not take it anymore.

I asked myself why these acts were committed from first place. Why has it dragged on and on unabated?

The answer is more simple than you and I can imagine.

The reason is that the officials in all decision making bodies inside this organisation are “imported” white Anglo-Saxon privileged people who never lived in these ghettoes. They only have more prejudice about “us” and “our” “funny for them” way of life. And maybe they think that they are on “holy” mission to “teach” us how to be “civilized”.

The moral crisis inside the DSA is a true copy of the moral crisis in Australia and other western countries. This is why our parliament and parliamentarian are in one valley, and the rest of us are in other valley. They are more concerned about homosexuals’ marriage or increasing the politicians’ allowances, while we are terrorised in our ghettoes, suffering from unemployment or discrimination, and lacking the access to Australian society that will in fact make our country truly multicultural.

Unless there will be enough of us in all decision making bodies, including the management positions, the situation will go from bad to worse, maybe to the extent of social explosion and serious unrest.

But we cannot remain silent. I will not be intimidated by Anglo-Saxon managerial team who was born with spoon in their mouth. And I am considering all my options in this regard, including making this issue an issue of public interest.

We need to unite our efforts to get rid of these racist and Islamophobic elements from our beautiful multicultural suburbs.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Kevin Howard: Why resorting to old tactics of raising Islamophobia!

Mr Kevin Howard
We have got your message today. You are in hurry to go to early election before any total economic collapse.

We understand that you need to go to early election before the blood will be spelt heavily in the streets of Kabul, Tehran, Lebanon, Tel Aviv… including the blood of Australian soldiers sent to serve the American imperialist colonial adventures (the same as the old days during all imperialist wars of I & II World Wars, Korean war, Vietnam war, …).

We understand that with your government’s lack of any major success on any level, you need to open new front fighting against ghosts not seen to any (except to ASIO agents) in a bid to score some imagined victories.

Mr Kevin Howard
Our hopes on you to restore humanity to our nation had faded earlier than expected.

We hoped that you can:
1- Restore humanity to poor people on low income or on welfare system. The opposite had happened: we discovered that under your government Centrelink offices became hubs to torture poor people, mainly with multiple marginalizations.
2- Restore humanity to people with disabilities: nothing major had happened to restore humanity for one of the most vulnerable people in the society.
3- Abolish inhumane treatment of refugees, asylum seekers and newly migrated people: we witnessed the worst attacks on students, tightening the immigration laws from non-English speaking countries and no major change on asylum seekers’ treatment.
4- Stop electoral rigging by distributing billions of dollars on voters and incumbent party’s campaigning using public money: to discover that you were more generous in buying votes where you spent $16 billions in the last 10 months only, in addition to spending millions to highlight your party’s “achievements” on tax-payers money.
5- Restore spending on public services: to discover that you are engaged in blame game with previous government on who destroyed public housing and health, with no credible money spent in these areas.

And lastly we hope that you can take decisive steps to counteract racists and Islamophobic elements in the society. But we discovered that these elements had grown extensively and started to migrate from white dominant suburbs of Cornulla and Sutherland to invade highly multicultural suburbs of Lakemba, Bankstown, Merrylands and Auburn.

Today we understood why these elements are feeling very powerful. They are encouraged by you, your government and your security agencies who will get more powers soon added to the extra powers given tot them by previous government.

Mr Kevin Howard
Can you tell me the necessity of resorting to old tactics of spreading fears and division in the society by spreading Islamophobia? Are we intelligent enough by linking your today’s poor performance of staging media circus against nameless persons who have committed unknown (and will remain unknown forever under the Anti-Terrorism legislations) sins to achieve following agendas:
- To push for Labor government’s proposal for new draconian “Anti-Terrorism” legislations.
- To increase your popularity among the racists and conservative voters in case you lose the crucial vote on climate change legislation which could lead to double dissolution election.
- To prepare us for possible Australian participation in many wide regional wars against mainly Muslim countries of Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Somalia and Sudan.

Mr Kevin Howard
Again, we should admit that we have made big mistake when we thought that you are different and hence we voted for you.

Mr Kevin Howard
If we need to continue suffering by voting for a devil, we would prefer to do it the old way: vote for the devil we know.

At least your godfather, John Howard, was openly racist. He was proud to be racist. We know that he is racist. So we could deal with him accordingly, without being fooled.

Mr Kevin Howard
If you think that we have no other choice but to choose either openly racist politicians or undercover one, you are making big mistake.

Mr Kevin Howard
In the next election, you will not get my vote or my group’s preference. You are so indifferent from your predecessor, expect in constant smiling. But smiles cannot build nation or rebuild social tolerance and cohesion.