Monday, July 11, 2005

OPINION: Send Muslims home? Fine, I'll go to East Ryde

TERRORISTS murder and maim. They claim to do this in my name. They will tell the world they did it to protect me and defend my rights.

When I was studying law at Macquarie University in the early '90s, I was taught never to present hearsay evidence in court unless a rule of law allows it. You cannot judge someone by what others attribute to them.

But some people are pointing fingers at me without asking what I actually think. They accept what others claim I am saying.

Out there in the broader community, people are frightened. I am frightened. So are my friends. On Friday night, I visited a young couple. The husband is a banker, the wife a financial adviser. They are a typical Sydney family. We were watching the TV news. We were terrified by what we saw.

"This morning I got off the train at Circular Quay. I asked myself, `When will it be my turn?''' the wife said. Replied the husband: "These terrorist bastards are making me edgy.''

Will it surprise you if I tell you that my friends are Australians? No. What if I told you they are Muslims? What if I told you that more than 20 per cent of the September 11 victims were of Muslim background? Would you believe me if I tell you that one of the first people President Bush consulted after September 11 was a Muslim scholar of Greek-American heritage named Hamza Yusuf Hanson?

You are frightened. So am I. So are people of Muslim background who manage Australia's largest financial institutions, who are partners of major commercial law firms, who are deans of faculties in major universities and who study at university.

We are frightened because if this happened in Sydney, we would be among the dead and wounded. We are frightened for the same reasons you are. What are we going to do about it? We will do exactly what you do. We will continue paying our taxes to fund law enforcement and intelligence services. We will be vigilant and report anything and anyone we find suspicious.

Some say we need to do more. So we will condemn and condemn and condemn terrorists again and again. Some say our mosques need to be closed down and we need to go back to where we came from. No problem. I will go back to East Ryde. My Muslim friends mentioned earlier will leave Concord and go back to Marrickville.

Some people will say anything to show hatred towards the world's 1.2 billion Muslims. Their hate is exactly what the terrorists want. They want you to victimise and blame me. Why? Because terrorists hope I will fall into their arms.

But I am not going to let that happen. And neither will the overwhelming majority of my fellow Muslim Australians. Because Sydney is my home town. I will do everything in my power to stop the terrorists.

Terrorism is about hate. The opposite of hate is love. As St Paul said in his first letter to the Corinthians, "Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres''.

Those who truly love Australia will love all Australians.

Irfan Yusuf is a Sydney industrial lawyer who learned about St Paul's letters after spending eight years at St Andrews Cathedral School. This article was published on page 19 of the Daily Telegraph on Monday July 11 2005.

© 2005 Irfan Yusuf

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