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Byron Shire
March 1, 2021

Tolerance goes both ways

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At the United Nations last week, Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl shot by the Taliban, urged education for all children. Malala is a passionate campaigner for the rights of female children to be educated. She presented the UN with three million signatures in support of her call.

The evidence of repression of women and female children in Muslim nations is in our media every day. Saudi women are not allowed to drive cars. Many Muslim women are not allowed to go out of their houses without a male chaperone. Afghan women are enduring harsh times with 12-year-old children being married off to old men. Cases of torture, rape and honour killing are not unusual. In Lebanese refugee camps, girls as young as 11 and 12 are being married off, some giving birth to babies at 14 years of age.

The majority of asylum seekers being brought to our shores by people smugglers are from Muslim countries. It must be abundantly obvious that there are huge ravines between our cultures and that western women who have, in many cases, fought for equal rights are shocked by the veiling and oppression which is the lot of many Muslim women now living in Australia.

To see a woman completely swathed from head to toe in black with a mask covering the face is the complete antithesis of women’s equality. Many women find this oppression revolting, and we have an inalienable right to our beliefs and opinions. The battle for women’s equality in this country was hard fought and critical to establishing a sane and responsible future that encompassed both sexes and their gifts.

Australians are entitled to be concerned about the exponentially growing people-smugglers’ trade. And entitled to note that in other countries where there has been a major Muslim immigration, trouble soon follows. Australians are amazingly tolerant people; we expect that same respect from others.


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  1. to The editor.
    I believe the response to this letter must be about the what is the nature of racism – and what is hate speech.
    For every bad news story about Moslem people – there are good ones. Whilst negatives can be found in any culture – including our own, a Western elitist viewpoint does nothing at all to create a better planet – it just enshrines negative entrenched positions.

    I believe that ANY Moslem person reading Ms Arnold’s letter would find it appalling – and feel villified – is that the object of the letter ?

    I believe it can be appropriately defined as Hate Speech.

  2. I agree with Peter Noble about the ‘racist’ and ‘elitist’ tone of Sue Arnold’s letter of July 19th.

    While some Muslim cultures do have a serious problem with with women’s rights and emancipation, Sue’s letter serves to demonise all Muslims. She also glosses over the fact that Malala Yusufzai herself is a Sunni Muslim and some of her most ardent supporters come from Pakistan.

    And when she talks about the issue of asylum seekers, she conveniently forgets to mention that our ‘amazingly tolerant’ people, via their governments, have been systematically messing with these cultures, be they in Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan, thus creating the very crisis from which these desperate folks are fleeing.

    As to Menkit’s reply, a quick look at the website that Menkit supplies will disclose this canard: ‘There is no such thing as moderate Islam. Not all Muslims are terrorists, but nearly all terrorists are Muslims’.

    The question needs asking: who is the real terrorist; the Muslims – and others – fleeing persecution or the countries bombing them?

    The whole business of asylum seekers needs a reasoned and heartfelt response. See the comments of Julian Burnside, a voice of sanity in a sea of racist hysteria: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/youve-been-misled-on-boat-people-here-are-the-facts-20130718-2q5rv.html

  3. Ms Arnold sounds well meaning enough but decides on the fall back position of relative ignorance.Relative in that her ideas come from within the cultural values of a nation which has practiced racism and, as the recent destruction of Julia Gillard’s prime ministership showed, instituionalised sexism, the fires of which are constantly being fanned by the media. Maybe in Australia we do not stone our women or make them wear veils but we still treat them as second class citizens, despite the few who manage to break through the glass ceiling of male dominion. The majority of menial, lesser paid work in Australia is still done by women. She also ignores the facts that many of these repressive regimes have been set up and maintained by our so called western liberal democracies, with Saudi Arabia being a case in point as it is the font of most of the more disgusting traditions now practised within Islam. To expect people to shake off their cultures in the instant they become Australians is both stupid and chauvinistic and indicates that contrary to her beliefs, Australians are not the tolerant people she thinks they are. This fact has been well illustrated by the recent tensions we see in places where refugees have congregated, which many Australians find threatening, yet none are willing to admit that they simply do not care to understand the complexities of moving from one culture to another and the associated traumas this involves. It would be betetr for those who wish to voice their opinions on this subject to make sure they inform themselves fully of the issues rather than take the small bits presented by the media vs the whole truth of the matter because believe me, from someone who has been studying the middle east and Islam for many years, the average Australians knowledge of it is minimal and often inaccurate.


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