Defence Australia wants to know what we think. Help me tell them.

Oct 20, 2014 by

Ladies and Gents, occasionally we have to use the tools the system has given us to agitate some change. That time may be now…

Defence Australia is calling for submissions from the community to inform the Defence White Paper, which will guide Australia’s Defence spending for the next 20 years. 

They want the community to send in thoughts – and if you have ever wished you could change the way Defence spends their money or thinks about things, this is the opportunity you have been looking for.

It is so important for marginalised and minority voices to be heard in this sort of forum.  I’d like to make sure, in whatever way I can, that these voices are heard.

Therefore, if you want to write a submission (or a short paragraph showing your feelings!), check out the links below:

WHITE PAPER (What on earth a ‘white paper’ is…)

COMMUNITY CONSULTATION (Some info about the consultation process)

PUBLIC SUBMISSIONS (Where you make a submission)

2014 PAPER (What the 2014 paper said).

If you don’t want to write your own submission but want your voice heard, email me: yassmin@youthwithoutborders.com.au and tell me what you think, or we can have a chat in some other way.

Make sure your voice gets heard. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In Sydney for Changemakers Festival! (and some links!)

Oct 18, 2014 by

Quick update: I’ll be in Sydney this weekend!

There are a couple of cool things happening: for one, Youth Without Borders Sydney is catching up (click HERE for details).  I’ll also be taking part in the 3things event through the Changemakers Festival which should be quite awesome – come along on Sunday morning if you’re free (details HERE).

I’ve also been honoured to be highlighted as part of birdee’s Changemakers – the guys and gals are too kind!

Don’t forget to like / contribute to the campaign: Racism, Hatred, Bigotry: #NotInMyName

A couple of things to keep you busy on a Saturday morning:

Do you think the ‘Age of Loneliness’ is killing us?

An essay on ‘Terrorism and the Muslim veil’

I really enjoy good graffiti and have begun using Instagram to record some of what I see around the world.  Tag me if you find some #graf you’ve enjoyed…

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#Perth #graf #tagsandthrow #streetart #perthgraf #graffiti

View on Instagram

THIS COMIC: Twisted Doodles

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Links, Links, Links! 13th October 2014

Oct 12, 2014 by

There is a lot of interesting stuff on the internet.  Here are a few of the articles that caught my eye this week…

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1. A completely different perspective to one that is usually told: The niqab makes me feel liberated, and no law will stop me from wearing it

“I’ve always been the sort of person who loved to experiment, but I never expected that wearing the niqab would be something I’d try.”

 

2. How ignorant commentary on Sharia law increases discrimination

 

3. Is it fair to blame the West for trouble in the Middle East?

“In his book A Fundamental Fear: Eurocentrism and the emergence of Islamism, Dr S. Sayyid describes five arguments that explain the spread of what is commonly called Islamic fundamentalism, Islamism or militant Islamism.”

4. The Myth of Religious Violence

 

5. An alternative perspective on the Emma – Wassim interview on #Lateline that even the PM lauded…

But Alberici’s own responses to Doureihi’s questions reinforced Doureihi’s claims that some kind of underlying narrative was at play. She was becoming flustered by a phenomenon — an interviewee answering her question in a manner he wished — that she should be well used to. Heck, politicians do this all the time. HT is a political party. Doureihi is a Muslim politician wannabe.

6. Is Islam a Violent Text?

This is SO good. Read it.

 

Channel Ten’s new show. What do you think?

 

Oh and in case you missed it, have a listen to Ian Hanke, Jane Gilmore and I on Outsiders for Radio National with Jonathan Green.  On the Sunday morning show we are talking the Lateline Interview (Emma-Wassim) and the current state of play in Australia…

 

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A Strange Trip on the Newcastle Train Line

Oct 6, 2014 by

Newcastle Trains

Her face was not a gentle one.  It was marked with remnants of resilience borne through struggle, a defiance forged from necessity.  She was travelling to the NRL (National Rugby League) grand final alone.

I wondered.

Her right hand looked deliberate, holding the window sill while her other hand grasped the rubber clad iPhone with authority. The woman’s short nailed thumb flicked through Facebook and Words-With-Friends with determination, the seepage of an attitude she probably approached everything in life pervading even her interaction with social media. 

My eyelids drooped, a headache throbbing.  Dehydration; I should have known better.  My mouth was dry as I contemplated dry swallowing Panadol to banish the thought-deadening pound.  My mouth twitched.  Sort yourself out girl, my inner voice chided.
What accent is your inner voice?  Today, mine was British.  Perhaps I internalise the effects of post colonialism more than I thought…
***
My lip curled in slight annoyance when the newcomers walked into my – the – carriage.  It was the quiet carriage, but not for long.   The older man and younger counterpart in a Jack Daniel’s cap started talking loudly and with a familiarity that belied a close relationship.  Father and son, perhaps.
On any other day, I’d jump at the opportunity to talk to people, new folk, humans obviously going to enjoy themselves and open to worlds of possibility.
But as my eyelids grew heavy and my head tightened, my headphone cans acted as a physical barrier disallowing any possible interaction and it was all just a bit too hard today…
***
The younger man’s eyes danced as I looked up from my laptop screen, assessing how irritating their chatter was.  His seat faced mine and our eyes locked briefly as I glared in his direction.  I looked pointedly at the quiet carriage sign but the connection was lost, the communication lines in different languages.
The two men in the seat across the walkway from mine me stood up to go relieve themselves. As they walked past,  the rabbitoh-jersey clad woman turned to look at me, red lips bright on her tanned complexion. Our eyes locked, and after a split second I smiled.  The universal sign…
She smiled back warmly, unexpectedly transforming her face.
I wondered how my face transformed when I smiled.
***
The man whose eyes danced had an interesting face; crinkles around his eyes and an expressive mouth.  Today, that was a gift, the easy smile belying a life which on surface, had been good to him. I wondered if his toothy grin and open face was always that way, or when faced with people like me those lips became tight, the face mean.  I’d seen it happen before, a frightening and trust shattering change.
I wondered what made people whose lives were (on surface) so blessed, so very closed minded.  Perhaps it was an underlying recognition that their life was fortunate and a fear that if they thought about it too hard they might be obliged to share.
I guess noone ever told them that sharing does not necessarily lessen one’s wealth in the way that one might think.
***
The woman behind me wailed.  “I need to go to the toilet!” she cried, her voice high and childlike.
Her hair was white flecked with grey, her girth demanding.
An older man sat across from her.  A husband, brother, carer?  Either way, a man who was invested in this lady’s wellbeing.
“I need to go and I can’t hold it in!”
The man looked at his phone.
The jersey clad men sitting next to me turned around.
“Hey mate, there is a toilet over there”, he said, motioning at the door. “I can help you man if you need it…”
“She can’t fit”, the elderly gentleman replied with resignation.  He stared down at his brown slacks.
“Oh.”
“I’m sorry mate.”
The young man turned around and his smaller mo-hawked friend averted his eyes.
The woman continued to wail and we all sat in the carriage, not acknowledging the difficulty this man was facing.
Politeness or a lack of empathy?
I turned around.
“Excuse me— sir, Excuse me”, I asked, attempting to make a contribution, not matter how ultimately futile. Maybe I needed to feel like I had done something, done the right thing.
“Excuse me sir— “
No acknowledgement.  Mo-hawk turned to look at me.
I turned back around and started to type.
***
The lady started to sob behind me, her sobs turning into wails.
We all averted our eyes.
***
It is fascinating how anything slightly different can make us feel so uncomfortable.  Whether or not this lady was suffering from a mental illness I can not honestly say, but it is a possibility.  It only took a few loud lines to make the carriage awkward and unable to deal with the breaking of an unwritten social contract on what is civilised.
What was fascinating is the conversation that took place between the man and the woman as the train journey continued.
***
“You don’t understand how I feel”, the lady commented.
“Yes I do. The whole train does. We all know how it feels to need to want to go to the toilet”.
She whimpered.
“Yeh but you don’t know what it’s like not to be able to fit.”
Brown slacks fell quite for a moment.
“Well that’s not my fault is it? It’s yours. It wasn’t my idea to bring all the chocolate or eat so much at breakfast.  It’s a choice you made…”
The temperature in the carriage changed.  No longer was the situation clear cut, an obvious hero or victim.
Cognitive dissonance abound.
“Mate. I’ll help you carry the bags out.”
Brown-slacks looks constantly grateful. Its an expression of time and place and legitimacy we’ve done our bit.
That is my transformation exciting.  When help is freely given without string attached
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Four Videos You Need to Watch This Friday

Oct 3, 2014 by

It has been a week full of intensity, as per usual.  It seems like the news has become a little like that, or perhaps it is what we choose to consume…

Here are a five videos that popped up on my radar this week that are definitely worth your time.

1. Jon Oliver on Drones.

This guy is a gift.  Takes issues once a week, tears it apart in 15 minutes or so. Sometimes, he can say things that others have been saying for ages but because of who he is, it is better received.  Yes, that may be frustrating, but who said life was fair? Either way, his stuff is worth watching, and this week just highlights how ridiculous and insane the United State’s Drone policy (or lack thereof) is.

 

2. Reza Aslan destroying CNN

Skip the first part of the video and wait until you get to the part where Reza Aslan starts talking. This guy is a religious scholar and academic. He knows his stuff, and the way that he clearly articulates things many Muslims yell at the TV while watching (or avoiding) CNN is brilliant.

 

3.  Ernesto Sirolli: Want to help someone? Shut up and listen!

A lesson that my father taught me over and over.  Why projects keep failing in ‘Africa’.

 

4.Kcee – Ogaranya ft. Davido (aka some light Afrobeats)

It can’t be a Yassmin video wrap up without some Afrobeats… Let’s have something light to finish off why don’t we?

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We all just need to chill…

Sep 30, 2014 by

Guys, what Australia is this?

“A woman has been left traumatised after her head was smashed into the side of train carriage during an apparent racial attack in Melbourne’s north.

The 26-year-old victim was on an Upfield line train outbound on Thursday night when she was approached by another woman, who began hurling abusive and racist remarks.

The woman grabbed the victim by the neck and hair, and forced her head into the wall of the carriage several times.

She then pushed the victim off the train as it rolled into Batman Station in Coburg North.”

Source, The Age

***

It cannot have come to this.  We’re so much better than this, really, we must be.

Yes, there are terrible things happening in the Middle East, but let that not destroy us from within.

Nothing like new raids to keep the public on their toes…

I wish I could be witty and satirical at this point, but it would only serve to sound a little bit jaded. A fellow rig guy said to me once: “the things is, you can make a terrorist joke…but we don’t know if you’re kidding or not.”

Talk about majorly awkward.

I could focus on the negatives, and there are a lot.  Check out Media Watch’s wrap up if you’d like some proof.

However, instead, I choose to focus on the fact that even though there is a lot of misinformation and hatred out there (which does not deserve traffic from my blog, no matter how meagre, so won’t be linked!), there is also a lot of good.

Follow the hashtag #WISH on twitter, and check out some of the empathy and solidarity shown.

Meet some regular Aussie Muslims here.

If you’re curious, check out my new favourite Tumblr that is about Sharia, PartyTilFajr. 

 

 ***

In other news…

A child is just about to get his first taste of Formula 1.  #SoManyFeels.  Okay, calling him a child may be a bit harsh and petulant.  The young teenager then…

The Dutch racing driver is set to become the youngest on the track during an F1 weekend, three days after his 17th birthday.

I guess there is nothing like some F1 familial pedigree to ensure your rear end gets a seat.

As much as I adore / love / live for Formula 1, there is no doubting the decadent and brazen level of nepotism and elitism that exists within its ranks.

Yet, we keep coming back…

 

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Brisbane Times: Heightened Terror Threat a Time for Races and Religions to Unite

Sep 19, 2014 by

If you haven’t seen it already, check out my piece in the Brisbane Times below.

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It is said that dividing and conquering is an effective way to deal with an opponent.

With that in mind, the very last thing we should be doing as a community in the face of fear is become divided.

As a community, we are so much stronger than that.

They call themselves IS, and are known by a variety of names including ISIS, ISIL, or as Muslim leaders in the US have begun to refer to them, the Anti-Islamic State (AIS).

Irrespective of what its members preach, this group’s actions are not Islamic, nor is it by any means an official state. Every time we refer to it as Islamic, we are actually legitimising a group which is essentially criminal in its behaviour. It is strategic and calculated in its actions, but this makes it similar to militant groups worldwide, rather than especially Islamic.

AIS was formally known as Al-Qaeda in Iraq, but it was seen as too violent even for them. The two groups are now competitors for a type of cruel dominance in the region. At its roots, support for the group is politically motivated. The area’s history with Sunni and Shiites is complex to say the least, and AIS has capitalised on that tension and historic power imbalance for their own gains.

All of this has occurred half way around the world though. The question many Australians are asking is what has brought this to our doorstep, and how do we deal with it as a community?

The events of the last few days have been played over and over ad nauseam on our screens. They have shocked many. The allegations have been damning and the responses swift. In the face of all that has occurred however, it is imperative that we take a step back, reassess and regroup.

What is important to us as a nation? The concept of a fair go gets bandied about regularly as an Aussie value. So although there have been raids based on information that security forces have intercepted, if we really are about giving each other a fair go then we will treat those arrested as innocent until proven guilty. Although we may be frightened, there has to be a level of trust and support in the justice system and its capacity to deal with threats to our safety. This does not, however, provide permission for authorities to operate without limits. Due process must. be followed. If we are to allows breaches of justice in the name of fighting against what we fear, we are no better than the terrorists.

Our strength and resilience as a society is not measured by how we act in the good times but how we deal with the bad times and come together in the face of adversity. During the 2011 Queensland floods people around the world were shocked to see traffic jams because of people heading into the state, rather than out of it, so they could offer a helping hand.  Today should be no different. Faced with a threat – perceived or evidenced – it is imperative that we as a community support each other and stand united against fear.

The tricky line is not letting a stance against fear become a stance against a people because of their race, religion or dress code. The threat of terrorism must not become a chance for racial and religious hatred and ignorance to flourish. What it must not become is a conversation about us and them, because that leads us down a path we thrashed 13 years ago. Violence begets violence. For the cycle to be broken, the conversation must be reframed. Rather than basing it on race, religion or ethnicity, let’s base it on intention, values and principles. We have come so far since September 11 and we must heed the lessons of history.

Us and them marginalises communities and makes people feel like they don’t belong when Australia is all they have ever known. It pushes people away from the mainstream, particularly young people, when often they are looking to be valued and fit in. Marginalisation, as well as entrenched socio-economic disadvantage and language in the public arena that is isolating, fear mongering and cruel, are some of the many reasons people look for other answers. Groups like AIS are happy to be that answer. We cannot let that happen.

 If you are in favour of a society where people live harmony, within a system that is fair and just, then you are for peace and we stand united on that platform.  

So what can we all do as individuals? Have open conversations with one another. Learn about each other without prejudice. Smile and say hi to someone who looks different on the street. Stand up to behaviour that is prejudiced. Make a friend who follows a different belief system and ask them about their way of life. make a Muslim friend. Gosh, if all else fails, email me and I’ll regale you with terrible puns and stories all about my car woes (never buy an Alfa Romeo if you’re not ready for the towing costs and emotional heartache).

There may be disagreement about beliefs, mindsets and ways of living, but this does not preclude us from living harmoniously together. After all, I continue to disagree with anyone who claims the Blues are a better team than the Maroons (however misplaced you may think that faith is…)  yet, I do still accept those from down south. We do say that sport is pretty much a religion in this country, don’t we?

That is what makes us who we are. The ability to rise above and beyond prejudice, ignorance and hatred and truly be mates, especially when the going gets tough.

As Muslims we are told “since good and evil cannot be equal, repel evil with something that is better” (41:34). Let’s all make sure we are better than the evil that we so abhor. Let’s make sure it doesn’t turn us against our neighbours, but rather brings us together to realise that strength lies not in our differences, but in our unity.

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