In 2009 Siv Jensen, leader of the Progress party in Norway, used a term which translates into English as “stealth Islamisation”. Her context was that there were areas in Malmo, Sweden where ambulance crews, firefighters and police officers no longer went, because of the concentration and hostility of Muslims who live there. She also noted the trend in her country to accommodate requests for uniquely Islamic dress for women in public spaces, and the introduction of halal food in prisons.
For daring to specify her nation’s “elephant in the room”, she was attacked by media and political opponents. In September 2013 when members of her party were elected to form a coalition government, they were demonized as bigoted, racist and Islamophobic.
Elephant in the Room
Could the same “elephant” – the possible Islamisation of Australia, be present in our nation?
It is generally accepted that Islam’s earliest contact with continental Australia was through seasonal trade between visiting Indonesian fishermen and aboriginal tribal people in the 18th century. (In the 2001 national census 641 indigenous people identified as Muslim. That number increased by 58% in the next five years.)
The 19th century saw the arrival of “Afghan” Cameleers and their animals. The 20th and 21st centuries have seen far more spectacular changes in Australia’s religious and cultural mosaic.
According to the 2011 Australian census figures, while the percentage of those claiming to be Christian continued its downward spiral to 69.1%, the number of people self identifying as Muslim continued trending upwards to 2.2% of the population. Sydney had the highest concentration with 4.7%, followed by Melbourne with 3.6% of the populations in each of those cities.
Prof Gary Bouma of Monash University attributed this growth of Islam to migration and high birth rates. These figures are reflective of a worldwide trend that forecasts the world’s Muslim population to grow at twice the rate of the non-Muslim population. It is estimated that by 2030, 2.2 billion Muslims will represent 26.4% of the world’s population.[i] It was estimated to be 11% at the beginning of the last century. 60% of the world’s Muslims are projected to live in the Asia-Pacific region by 2030.
Australia was once a Christian nation. 90% claimed allegiance to that faith at the beginning of the 20th century. Sunshine (Victoria) mosque president Mustapha Ramadan declared in 2011 that the view of Australia being a Christian nation was “outmoded”.[ii] What isn’t “outmoded” is Islam’s understanding of its own mission in the world.
History Indicates a Future
In the eighth century Abu Hanifah al-Nu’man ibn Thabit ibn Zuta, a jurist and founder of the Hanafi School of Law, which today claims the largest following among Muslims, defined the world as existing in two spheres. One is dar al-Islam, the abode of Islam. The other is dar al-Harb, the abode of war. In the latter Islam and Sharia Law are yet to prevail.
Jihad, holy war or struggle, must be prosecuted until the whole world submits to Islam or until the end of the world. Australia, along with all other non-majority Muslim countries, is a part of dar al-Harb.
In October 2009 an article entitled “The Return of the Islamic Emirate” was published in the online monthly magazine, Al-Sumud. It stated that the “white settler diaspora” in Australia would have to choose between returning to Europe or being assimilated into Asia . It further stated that failure of Australians to choose would result in an extended conflict that they would lose.[iii]
Australian Sheik Ishmael al-Wahwah represents a rapidly expanding fundamentalist interpretation of Islam. In January 2013 he reportedly outlined the future Australia governed by an Islamic regime. He is reported as saying that alcohol would be banned; strict Islamic dress code would be enforced; the teaching of all foreign languages except Arabic would be prohibited; interest charged on monies being loaned would be banned and courts would be forced to implement Sharia Law.[iv]
These provisions in various forms, apart from foreign language learning, are common within Islamic contexts. If Sheikh Ishmael’s vision is representative of Australia’s future, what is the state of progress toward it?
The registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages reveals that in NSW in 2010 – 2013 “Mohammad” officially became one of the most popular names for baby boys.[v]
Australia’s largest mosque at Lakemba in Sydney published a religious ruling – a fatwa – decreeing it was a sin to wish people a Merry Christmas. Sheikh Yahya Safi reportedly told his congregation they should have nothing to do with Christmas. “Disbelievers [i.e. infidels] are trying to draw Muslims away from the straight path”[vi]
When the media discovered it, it was claimed that the text was “taken out of context”. The Grand Mufti, Ibrahim Abu Mohammad, tried to save the day by claiming that the foundations of Islam were peace, cooperation, respect and holding others in esteem. This statement has elements of truth provided the “others” are Muslim coreligionists belonging to the same sect or group. And if not…?
Jamal Daoud identified dozens of Sydney suburban shops whose owners had been intimidated, forcing them to close, because they allegedly belonged to the wrong Muslim group dominant in that area. This was a reflection of the violent fractures within society in Syria.[vii] Where Islam rules, its 14 centuries of Shia /Sunni conflict follows, whether that’s in Iraq, Pakistan or Australia.
Commenting on the recent surge in Australian Muslims’ participation in the Shia/Sunni conflict in Syria, Australian Attorney General George Brandis concluded, “There must have already been pre-existing, sophisticated facilitation networks to enable and recruit that many people”.[viii] One might well ask what else may be in existence of which the population in general is unaware?
In the education sector in NSW, the number of Islamic schools has tripled in the past 15 years to 22. They accommodate a 400% increase of students since 1998. Only 15 – 20% of Muslims students are able to attend these specially oriented religious schools.[ix]
The Bukhari Bookshop sells books for its Muslim community. Reportedly, one of its titles, “Bringing Up Children in Islam”, advocates amputating thieves’ hands, 100 lashes for fornication and death by stoning for adultery.[x] While these penalties are at variance with Australian law, they are practiced as a part of Sharia Law.
Madrassas (religious schools) in Australia, many of which reportedly receive government funding of up to $30,000 per year, are free to teach whatever radical doctrines they choose.[xi]In such an educational environment, it’s not surprising that eight year old Ruqaya publicly declared her love for Jihad and encouraged other children to join the Syrian uprising.[xii]
Monash University in Melbourne published a handbook for Muslim students, “Salam Monash”. It lists, “Islamic banking and financial institutions, Muslim publications, women’s groups and schools… Muslim medical and dental practitioners, a halal food guide and a list of halal grocers and butchers. There was no similar handbook available for other religious groups”. In 2008, 1000 Muslims students protested against sharing prayer facilities with Christians and Jews at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology [RMIT].[xiii] Latrobe University in Melbourne opened a prayer room in 2010 for Muslim students. It cost $927,000 .
The word “halal” means “admissible”. Its opposite “haram” means “forbidden”. These words define of what Muslims may or may not partake. Halal is commonly associated with food. It also encompasses chemicals, health, healthcare, medicines, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, finance and even leather products. Recent reports from Malaysia indicate that the principle is now being applied to shopping trolleys and even car parking spaces. It represents a US$3 trillion industry. In the West everyone from giant food to pharmaceutical companies and banks are keen to grab a slice of the pie. It’s the same in Australia.
But to participate, suppliers of goods and services first have to obtain halal certification. In Queensland a big meat processor was reportedly quoted a fee of A$27,000 per month to obtain certification. The Indonesian Council of Ulama (MUI) reportedly banned a Brisbane certification business for not charging abattoir operators enough.[xiv] Funds thus harvested are presumably used to advance the Islamic cause.
In legal matters Sharia Law already operates as a shadow legal system within Australia. Amendments to the Family Law Act in 2008 mean that polygamous religious marriages receive recognition as defacto marriages. Second and third wives of the one husband and their respective children qualify for welfare benefits.
Sheik Moussab Legha from the Islamic Welfare Centre in Lakemba reported that Imams already oversee hundreds of Sharia divorces.[xv] Similarly various reports appeared in the media in February 2014 regarding multiple underage marriages being facilitated.
The European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2010 that Sharia Law is incompatible with democracy. That did not dissuade the peak body of Australian Muslims, the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC), from lodging a submission to the Federal Government in 2011 urging the introduction of Sharia Law into the Australian legal system under the umbrella of support for multiculturalism. Islamic preacher, Ibrahim Siddiq-Conlon was reported as saying, “One day Australia will live under Sharia; it’s inevitable”.[xvi]
Into whatever country one looks, the push is on for the acceptance of Muslim political, cultural, economic, social and religious norms. Australia is no exception. While over time, individual Muslims may change from nominal to fully observant, one thing will never change – Islam. Welcome to a different world.
[i] –, Herald Sun, September 17, 2012, pp.20-21.
ii Benjamin Millar, Study pinpoints fear of Islam, March 29, 2011.
iii Barnabas Prayer, March/April, 2010, p.14
[iv] Paul Maley, The Australian, January 10 2013.
[v] m.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/mohammads-a-sign-of-the-times-varying-spellings-of-it-are-some-of-nsw-82175-most-popular-baby-names-story-fnic, viewed September 11, 2013.
[vi] Natalie O’Brien, Christmas greetings a sin rules mosque, The Sunday Age, December 23, 2012, p.5.
[vii] Rachel Olding, Home front opens in a foreign war, Monash Weekly, June 30, 2013.
[viii] Paul Maley, Aussie fighters leading Syrian terror groups, The Australian, February 18, 2014.
[x] Au.news.yahoo.com/nsw/latest/a-/newshome/7890729/7news-exclusive-sydney-store-sells-extreme-sharia-guidebooks/, viewed July 21, 2011.
[xi] Adam Shand, Madrassa lessons worry Somalis, The Australian, September 24, 2013, p.2.
[xii] Jared Owens, Girl, 8, calls on Islamic youth to back jihad, The Australian, September 17, 2012.
[xiii] –, Muslim handbook is divisive, Herald Sun, November 24, 2011, p.15.
[xiv] www. couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/religious-levy-costs-queensland-abattoirs-thousands-each-month/story-fnihsr/2-1226743106235, viewed October 20, 2013.
[xv] Gemma Jones, www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/national/sharia-law-applied-secretly-in-sydney/story-e6frea-1226057896078, viewed July 5, 2011.
[xvi] Sally Neighbour, PM go and ‘let Muslims take over’, The Australian, January 20, 2011.