Aussie Muslims Eye Politics

Australian Muslims announced they consider fielding a candidate in the March local elections in New South Wales, Australia's most populous state, to defend their issues and stand up to vilifying right-wing campaigns.

Aussie Muslims Eye Politics

"We need to make sure we are taken seriously," Reuters quoted as saying Kaysar Trad, spokesman of the Islamic Friendship Association of Australia (IFAA).

"Not only in terms of getting them to stop picking on us every time there is an issue, but also in terms of acknowledging that there are strong candidates who are capable of serving this nation in the political arena."

Trad has told Reuters in an interview that Australia's Muslims were too few to wield any political or economic clout, which makes them more vulnerable for prejudice.

"If it continues it will divide Australia. No one wants a nation of racists," he has said.

"Only if the number of Muslims and the potency of Muslims in Australia expands can we exert political or economic pressure," Trad said in an interview.

Muslims, estimated at 300,000, make up 1.5 percent of Australia's population of 20 millions.

Mufti of Australia Sheikh Taj Aldin Al-Hilai has told over the phone in an earlier interview that he would announce the name of an "independent candidate" as soon as he returned to Australia.

Hilali, who drew fire earlier in the month for mocking the convict ancestry of white Australians and said Muslims had a greater claim to the country, said the name of the candidate will be a "surprise."


The Muslims gear-up for elections came as the New South Wales Premier challenged Sheik Hilali to stand against him in the elections.

"Don't hide behind another candidate," Reuters quoted Morris Iemma as saying Sunday.

"If you want to challenge, challenge yourself."

Iemma has called on the Mufti of Australia to test support for his views.

"I believe that the great majority of people in my electorate won't be voting for lunacy, no matter who is putting it forward," said Iemma, the labor party candidate in the Sydney suburb of Lakemba.

"I love Australia and its people and he doesn't."

In Iemma's western Sydney electorate, the Muslim community makes up nearly 13 per cent of the electorate.

Trad said it was "most unlikely" the sheik would stand in the elections though he will be a part of the consultations about putting up Muslim candidates.

Though Muslims and tolerant Australians can see the point in Hilali's comments, they warned that the rightists are there lurking in the bush.

Late last year, Hilali made international headlines when he told the congregation at Sydney's largest mosque that a woman in revealing clothes was herself to blame for a sexual assault "because if she hadn't left the meat uncovered the cat wouldn't have snatched it."

Hilali, currently on Middle East tour, had later apologized for the woman remarks.

A recent governmental report has revealed that the Muslim minority in Australia is facing deep-seated Islamophobia and race-based treatment "like never before."

Prime Minister John Howard has been under fire from Australian Muslim leaders for continuing to single out the Muslim minority for criticism.

Most Australian Muslims blame Howard for fostering an image of the minority as the enemy within through his hard-line policies and unbalanced remarks.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16