Friday, December 16, 2005

Welcome To Apartheid

It has begun.

Australia has changed forever because the Cronulla riots.

In the place of a pluristic society where the beaches are open to everyone and anyone, governed only by common sense as to their use, >ghettos are being proposed:

CRONULLA'S beaches might be divided into sections to remove some of the tensions that erupted into mob violence this week.

Sunbathers, soccer players and surfers could each be allocated an area on the southern Sydney beach to reduce the chance of arguments and conflict over who controls the sand.
Muslim and Lebanese "marshalls" and elders might also be sent from the western suburbs to patrol the area and sanction troublemaking young men visiting the beach.
Mark my words, this is a horrendous idea.

Ghettoisation of parts of Sydney is what fuelled these racial/reglious/cultural tensions in the first place how can anyone sensible argue that we continue the practice?

Indeed in the case of Macquarie University, its contact with the sand is to >bury its head in it:

There is a popular belief in Australia that migrant groups living here have formed "ethnic enclaves" which have "taken over" certain areas of our metropolitan cities. The media have strengthened this opinion with emotion-laden stories on immigration, ethnicity and crime gangs, but academia is also to blame with many of our so-called "experts" talking about the rise of "ethnic ghettos" or the "Los Angelisation" of Sydney. But how much of this hype is based on fact?
All of it.

Perception is reality, not only to how this appears to the wider Australian population but also to new migrants who, in the larger cities appear to be conditioned into settling where their fellow countrymen are located.

For many, the only opportunity to mix under the great Australian sun was at the beach. It is the embodiment of what it is to be Australian.

The beaches are free and open to everyone. The only thing that is asked is to show common courtesy to other beach goers and bathe between the flags.

Fortunately it is an opinion which is beginning to be voiced in the Muslim community (which, it is worth reminded readers is not solely Lebanese but also comprises people originally from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and many other places). It also raises a number of questions that this relgious community need to sort out:

>Irfan Yusuf is a Sydney industrial lawyer and occasional lecturer at the School of Politics & International Relations at Macquarie University. He is also a columnist for the Adelaide-based Australian Islamic Review:

The most hilarious spectacle was to see "community leaders" – an assorted array of non-English speaking imams and organizational heads having talks amongst themselves. What were they talking about? These are the same people who never bothered learning English. Few have tried to understand what it's like growing up in Australia as a human pendulum, forever swinging between competing cultural and religious expectations.

Many of these leaders themselves have been responsible for some of the worst forms of racism in Australia. What do mean? When a Lebanese Muslim girl wants to marry a Pakistani or Bosnian Muslim boy, her parents stop him. A non-Lebanese person cannot become a member of the association responsible for managing Sydney's main mosque – the Imam Ali ben Abi Taleb Mosque in Lakemba.

If I hold anyone responsible for events such as the Cronulla riots, it is the so-called ethno-religious leaders who refuse to allow young people to take control and who thereby force us to the margins. I am sick and tired of being a marginal Australian. Yet that is exactly what happens when the person who speaks on my behalf in media and to governments speaks English with a thick accent and expressed ideas that make me cringe.

As much as Australia's White Australia policy of the early to mid 20th Century was flawed, it had at its core one correct ideal:

"We don't care where you are from, but once you decide to make this your home, you are Australian, becoming one people and one culture from which the best parts of the 'old country' are brought to the new."

Food and festivals are those 'best parts'. Hateful concepts like Ghetto and Apartheid are not.

-- Nora

UPDATE: Keith Winshuttle has an excellent essay on this very subject.

No comments: