Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Open Letter to Hon John Howard MHR, Prime Minister of Australia
Prime Minister of Australia
Member for Bennelong
My name is Irfan Yusuf. I was an endorsed Liberal Candidate in the 2001 elections in the seat of Reid, and managed a swing of 5.1% on a 2-party preferred basis.
My parents have lived in your electorate virtually since the day they moved to Australia permanently in 1970.
I understand you are holding a meeting with leaders from the Muslim faith-community. This is a welcome move.
I am, however, concerned as to noises being made by at least one peak body which wants the Federal Government to give it some kind of statutory powers to police Muslim Australians.
This would be a most unfortunate outcome. Indigenous Australians are still suffering as a result of the failure of the ATSIC model. We do not need an Islamic ATSIC.
Further, I am concerned as to exactly how representative some of these bodies are. I wonder at a national federation whose executive has not had a single female for over 20 years. I also wonder at a national body which appoints an unelected non-English speaking mufti to act as its adviser on youth affairs.
If we can learn any lesson from the London bombing, it is of the need to ensure that local Muslim Australian youth do not become guineapigs for radical elements. But when local Muslim organisational heads insist on ignoring and marginalising young Muslims, and when intelligent young Muslims like the Doureihi brothers (whom I know personally) can only find a voice in groups like Hizbut Tehrir, the government cannot and must not take for granted the representative capacity of peak bodies.
Mr Howard, you are the Prime Minister of all Australians. You are the PM of all Muslim Australians. We look to you to represent and protect our national interests. We are just as Australian as you. And we would request that you open your doors to all Muslim Australians.
Perhaps your colleagues in parliament could be encouraged to hold structured consultations with Muslim citizens in their electorates and states. Perhaps prominent Muslim Australians like Ahmed Fahour, Abdul Rizvi and John Ilhan could be invited to contribute.
Thank you for considering this letter. Naturally, we will all be watching events closely over the next few days.
I end with the traditional greeting - peace be with you and the mercy of God!
Your fellow Australian