This time we should all stand together and say: enough is enough and not in our name. I am talking here about the decision taken by 6 councilors to investigate possibility of allowing demolition of heritage listed former fire station in Auburn.
We should send a clear message that the trio Michele Michaels – Izzet Anmack – Ronney Oueik does not represent us as a community.
Firstly we should mention things as they are. Both Ms Michaels and Mr Ronney ran in the last election not as Muslim candidates, but on behalf of their parties. And both their parties are very far from representing the interests of the Muslim community, if not representing the opposite. I will give details on this later in this opinion piece.
We noticed that after Ms Michele Michaels missed out on becoming Mayor of Auburn and missed out on the $50,000 allowance, her attitude changed significantly. The latest change is very dangerous to the harmony in the community and could badly backlash against us as a community of religious and cultural minorities.
This time this trio is sending a message to all Australians that the Muslims are banditos, arrogant and do not recognize or respect any law or rule. The trio is in fact finishing the job started by John Howard of stereotyping our community and branding us as “unAustralians”, supporting illegal activities.
The Auburn Council motion and subsequent media comments by Malikeh Michaels had the potential to achieve more than what John Howard tried to achieve in a decade of Anti-Muslim propaganda, if she is not stopped immediately. This dangerous trend here is the fact that this trio is claiming that they are representing Muslims in all their actions. Ms Michaels has even gone further when she was shedding tears at the Anti-Muslim behaviour of the councilors in opposing her motion. This resulted in threats of violence against those councilors by mislead community members after they heard the tears from this “representative of Muslims in Australia”.
Yes. As Muslims we are disadvantaged and treated as second class citizens. But we are fighting to be treated equally and only equally. We are not seeking to be treated as super citizens: citizens above laws. Citizens that can destroy, demolish and re-structure without following any rules or laws.
On the claims by this trio of “representing the Muslim community”, let us mention some facts.
Let us start with Mr Ronney Ouiek. He is member of the Liberal party. For the Australians who do not remember what the Liberal party has done, let me mention a few facts:
1- The Liberal party detained tens of thousands of asylum seekers (90% of them are Muslims) and then destroyed their lives by several inhumane pieces of legislation.
2- The Liberal party destroyed civil liberties and introduced Anti- Terrorism laws, which were introduced to mainly discriminate against and target Muslims.
3- The Liberal party refuted Multiculturalism and considered this word to be shameful.
4- The Liberal party sent our troops to participate in invading Afghanistan and Iraq and supported blindly Israeli massacres in Lebanon and Palestine.
5- The Liberal party promoted all lies about the Muslim community to label the community as terrorist and out of control.
Not only this. Ronney Ouiek was quoted at the pooling booths during the last council election supporting Israeli massacres against Palestinians and against his own Lebanese people.
Would such person represent Muslims?
And then let us ask where Ms Michaels was when the attack on Muslims was at its height? Where was she when the detentions were full of Muslims? Where was she when the Howard government legislated all these discriminatory laws against Muslims and labeled them as terrorist by birth? And where was she when Israel invaded Lebanon (2006), and then invaded Gaza (2008 -2009)? And where is she now where tens young Muslims are still behind bars for no reason, allegedly for “terrorism-related” activities?
For this lack of track history of any “commitment” to major issues of concern to Muslims, where did Ms Michaels get this claims that she represent Muslims? Has she not noticed that Zalmay Khalil Zadeh, the criminal member of George Bush administration, was in fact Muslim. Could he claim that he represented American Muslims?
If we add to this the fact that Ms Michaels claimed after the last council election that she got elected to the council on the votes from white middle class voters in the new suburbs of Auburn, then we should wonder how come she is claiming now that she is representing the Muslim community (who did not vote for her, as per her claim)?
The tight bond between Ms Michaels and the Liberal councilors is answering it all. It could be that she is still planning for her mayorship next term with the support of Liberals-Unity- Izzet councilors. And I do not think that it is anything to do with the Muslim rights.
And why did I say at the beginning that this time she is playing a very dangerous game?
1- She is playing dirty tactics to raise the feelings of Muslims against a few councilors, which could result in violence. This violence could result in media hysteria that would bring back the memories of the Howard dark ages of high racist attacks on Muslims. Then we, as a community, will start again from scratch to rebuild our shattered reputation.
2- Her hysterical campaign to apparently secure the mayorship position, even if will not resulted in physical violence, could be used to justify portraying our community with all ugly labels.
3- This hysterical campaign could also result in dividing the community itself and then could spark factional and sectarian violence or at least tension, between supporters of this development application and the ones who do not.
4- Her hysterical opportunist campaign (if not stopped) could clean the dark pages of Howard-Ruddock crimes and introduce the xenophobic Liberals as the Muslim friendly party.
What amazes me too is that she circulated an email earlier last week stating that she is a proud “Greens” party member. I checked the official policy of the Greens on the heritage issue. I will quote a few points:
5- We should support appropriate development that is sympathetic to its environment, heritage considerations ….
Heritage is viewed by developers and, in some instances, by planners as an obstacle to the planning process, rather than an asset, as it should be.
Then under Goals:
30 - Establish a requirement that developers conserve and adaptively re-use heritage structures …
And there is special section for protecting heritage in the same policy (you can access the policy on http://nsw.greens.org.au/policies/building-and-development)
So in reading this policy and then reading the decision by this Greens councilor to support potential demolition of a heritage building, we should come to either one of the following 3 conclusions:
1- It is either the Greens policy is published on the web just to mislead public and get more votes only (which is true in most cases)
2- Or that the Greens councilor did throw the Greens official policy into rubbish bin, for own benefit and agenda.
3- Or maybe it’s a combination of both, for combined interests and agendas.
Now let us ask what are these agendas of both the Greens and Ms Michaels:
1- It is possible that Ms Michaels is just planning for the next Mayorship election, only.
2- Or maybe she is planning to move parties to the Liberals.
3- Or maybe it is a bigger agenda of the Greens to enter coalition with the extreme right Liberal Party in the next election.
4- Or it could be combination of all the above.
As this is a very dangerous move that could backlash against the whole community, we should not be silent. And we should not be intimidated by emotional abuse tactics of Ms Michaels by abusing us as Anti-Muslims.
We opposed and condemned the move not to approve Mosques in Camden, Baulkham Hills and before that in Sefton, Dee Why and Earlwood, where development applications were done according to laws and regulations. We also (not like the Greens MLC) opposed denying Muslims to build schools, if they would be built according to rules and regulations. But we cannot support breaking the law in such a way.
I will seek a meeting with Br Shafiq Khan to explore any solution without any violent backlash against our community. But at the same time I want everyone to know that not in my name. Definetley Ms Michaels does not represent me as Muslim Australian. And I know that hundreds (if not thousands) do agree with me.
Accordingly, the trio of Michaels-Anmak-Oueik should not pursue their own agenda regardless if it will be built on more suffering of hundreds of thousands of our community members.
We should do all in our hands to let everyone know about this. And definitely we will be present at the next council meeting to let them know that: Not in our name.
And I should mention here that I wrote this piece regardless of my views on heritage preservation. I could have a different opinion, that is irrelevant. The most important thing for us is the interests of the community and to maintain and strengthen the harmony in the society. It would be very shameful if we were to go a few steps backwards because of the personal interests of a few community members, who have no mandate to speak in our name.
We should mention here that we expected something different from Independent Muslim councilor Izzet. But at the moment he proved to be naïve (at least) by following Ms Michaels’ misleading directions. He should remember that Ms Michaels has bigger agendas, he is definitely not part of them.