Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Terrorists win if we limit our religious freedoms

Terrorists win if we limit our religious freedoms

Banning the hijab or the women’s head-covering worn by Muslim women at security checkpoints like airports would be a catastrophic decision that would end religious freedom in this country as we know it.

The hijab like its counterparts halal food and jihad is what makes Islam unique, enchanting and enigmatic. Islam has for many centuries intrigued the West with its paradoxical wisdoms. Islam is all about making your life halal (of the highest quality) and striving (jihad) towards working against your ego-driven desires of this world. The food we eat, the actions we take, the way we dress, the words we speak and the way we treat others. It must be in accordance with the law of God, that is to be halal.

Halal whilst an Islamic requirement can also be good for this nation. The halal food industry for instance brings in billions of dollars to Australia’s economy from which all Australians benefit. The Muslims of this country make up almost 3% of the nation and are an important cog in the workforce machinery and in the consumer market. Muslims are also involved with scientific research, in medicine and hospital industry, engineering and IT as well as in education, law and of course the financial and retail markets. In short they are an integral part of this society, this economy and this nation.

Maybe when the first pioneers of Australia landed in Sydney cove they did not envisage this penal colony to become one of the most multicultural societies on earth, nor did they know that this ‘God-forsaken land’ would become 7th on the world scale of best places to live. The reason that Australia is so highly rated is because of one word and one word alone; tolerance.

I know lots of people will jump in about now and say we don’t like that word, its like having to tolerate a mosquito bite. But tolerance is a much more complex term and holds more meaning than just having to put up with someone you don’t like. Tolerance is the ability to portray noble character traits which allow you to live in a complex society. Tolerance means patience, understanding, empathy and compassion as well as self-discipline and restraint. That is why after one of the bloodiest campaigns ever thought by our troops in Gallipoli we still show great compassion and friendship towards our Turkish citizens and even though we suffered in Japan and Germany we are a tolerant society towards all our minorities. When there have been calamities in the world, even though Australia is a relatively small country we still give generously to those in need.

This is what makes our country so great. But of course there is more to Australia than its great attitude to life. It’s our laws and our process and system of government. We in Australia have developed a fairly robust set of laws and regulations that ensure equality, freedom and justice. Its not perfect no system ever is. Yet, we have become accustomed to it and its what we call being Australian. Some will say the world has changed and that we are no longer safe. But that is what the powers that be want, they want to control us even more than they already do. But if we change our way of life then we are only bending into the terrorists’ objectives .

One of those freedoms is the freedom of religion. Muslims are one of the many religions in this country and for women they must wear the hijab and that’s not negotiable. There must be other ways to check people without the need to humiliate them or degrade their dignity. This is not just about Muslims, its about giving all Australians a fair go; including Sikhs, Jews, Hindus, even Santa Claus. Because if we force ladies to take off their hijabs at security checkpoints then we need ask Santa Claus to show us what is in his sack or nuns to discard the habit and so forth. Let’s keep this place as the “lucky country” or should I say the “tolerant country”? I am certain that as a smart nation we can find alternative ways to deal with our problems that accommodate all our citizens’ needs. If we are to go down the path of banning religious items then we allow the terrorists to win.

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