I go to work 3 days a week – I work for a federal government department here in Perth WA. I have 2 kids who I adore – a near 2-year-old and a 3-year-old who starts kindy next year. We go to that park, we do our shopping at Aldi, Coles and Woolies. Amira likes to have a babycino when we go out to a café and loves bubble tea. They share sushi together. She loves Disney princesses and he likes Blues Clues. We all love shoes. My husband works for the defence force; he likes to cook and loves his new car he picked up a few weeks ago.
But through all this normalcy – all the ‘stuff’ that I do; that you probably do also, there is an underlying quiver of real fear that clouds my days.
Because I am a Muslim.
I am an Australian Muslim with an Arabic background on my mum’s side and a Caucasian Australian on my dad’s side – my kids are Muslim. My husband came from a Greek and Italian background. We do Ramadan and celebrate Eid after, I go to my in-laws house for Christmas and Easter and wish them a merry Christmas as they wish us “Eid Mubarak”. I was born here, went to school here and graduated with honors. And now I live in fear of the country I live in, the people around me and what they will do or think about my children.
When I was little I remember talking about the fact that I was Muslim to my neighbours when I was explaining something like why I didn’t eat pork sausages and then when I got older still it was mentioning in passing that I was fasting that day and wouldn’t be having lunch. All this time we were all; myself, my mum and the other Muslim families I knew were just living our lives…
Then September 11 happened…
Then it changed from people asking about my faith or me mentioning it as a quick “fyi” to this sense of me having to justify my faith; havng to explain it and then defend it… having to then, by association defend myself and ‘prove’ my “Australian-ness”. But by that point I was a university student so I understood my faith and myself enough to be able to explain: I AM NOT WITH THEM – THOSE IDIOTS; THEY DO NOT REPRESENT MY RELIGION OR WHO I AM.
The fact that we, the regular ‘just living our regular life’ Muslims, we dispise them more than you.
But now I’m married and have 2 children and I look at them and the situation with Pauline Hanson and her views on Muslims and (Donald) Trumps views of Muslim and I worry for them.
That my near 4-year-old will have to justify her religion and her cultural background – that my near 2-year-old boy might be negatively labelled because he’s going to grow to be an Australian Muslim man. that even before they were born we had to think about names that would help them to ‘fit’ into a world that would alienate them because of their background.
That no matter how Australian they might be they might forever never really be ‘included’.
And then I think of my mum – the definition of an “Aussie battler” trying to rise a child as a single parent after experiecing domesic violence and then a messy divorce and living in a country where English is her third language and working two jobs so she could send me to private school and teaching me that education was key. I think about how she brings eid cakes and cookies for her neighbors (who aren’t Muslim) and writes them christmas cards at that time of the year, because she taught me that real Islam is about loving your neighbor and being a good person. I worry for her because she does speak with an accent, does wear a head scarf (hijab) and is so obviously Muslim – but she’s elderly; what is she going to face as she faces the current situation of Australia?
I am saddened by the way things are headed – the “realness” of people’s hate for a common enemy: that we are ALL AGAINST ISIS. I am amazed that people think that we, the Muslim community need to CONTINUALLY denounce ISIS – seriously? Should I introduce myself that way? Should I start each morning that way? “Good morning – I am an Australian Muslim and denounce ISIS – can I get a large skinny latte with 1 sugar please?” if that’s the case, should the reply be: “morning! I’m an Australian Caucasian and I apologise to the indigenous Australians for the stolen generation – that will be $4.50 for the coffee”
I just don’t know anymore. I don’t even know if I am sad or disheartened by it all. I look to my children sitting there playing at their table as they have Playschool on in the background and wonder what will become of us all and feel totally despondent that this country that I was born in, the country that I was raised in and longed for when I spent 3 months in Europe (a one point i cried upon hearing & seeing the Qantas ad that had those choir kids singing “I still call Australia home” – i still well up if i hear it whilst abroad) and a time in Indonesia now has made me feel unwanted. That even though I and my children might look like everyone else and sound like everyone we are on the outside.
But this is my home. OUR home.
Isn’t THIS where I belong?
And so I have to ask myself what I fear almost every Muslim has asked themselves at some point or other in the last year or so: If things got SO bad that I; we would be told to go – WHERE do I go? Where do we belong?