Nov 17 2010
Mr Samier Dandan, President of the Lebanese Muslim Association, yesterday spoke out against the neglect shown by incumbent politicians representing areas with high Muslim populations and called on Muslims to consider the issues carefully before voting for Labor in the up-coming State election.
The president of the LMA was speaking before worshippers and local dignitaries at festivities held at Lakemba Mosque to celebrate Eid Al-Adha.
In a show of frustration, State Labor Members of Parliament were not invited to the event that was attended by over 17,000 worshipers.
In his address Mr Dandan called on Muslims to participate in the political process more and to engage with politicians seeking their vote.
“Today I want to deliver a strong message to our community, a message to stand up and be counted.” Mr Dandan said.
“We have reasonable and solid expectations of what our community deserves, not as Muslims, but simply as Australian citizens.
“The message that has come through very clear from our elected members in Parliament is that safe Labor seats like Auburn, Canterbury, Liverpool and Lakemba are not seats the Labor Party need worry about.
“For too long Labor Members of Parliament have taken the Muslim vote for granted. Instead of giving away your vote so predictably, let’s engage with our political leaders and find out what they plan to do for us” he said.
“March 2011 is the platform to be heard and to ensure that our needs are being heard and accounted for in the State Parliament.
“I encourage all people of Auburn, Canterbury, Liverpool and Lakemba, regardless of your faith, to consider the issues and think carefully before supporting Labor in March 2011.
‘Responsibility falls upon every one.'” Mr Dandan said.
“Enough is enough. Labor thinks these are safe seats. That’s why they don’t spend the money,” he said.
“And the Liberal Party, why would they bother?”
Former NRL star Hazem El Masri has been sounded out by the Liberal Party to stand.
While Labor MPs were nowhere to be seen, Opposition Leader Barry O’Farrell sent an Arabic-speaking spokesman.
More than 25,000 people attended the Lakemba mosque yesterday to celebrate the second most important day on the Muslim religious calendar.
About 4500 Sydney Muslims travelled to Mecca for the annual pilgrimage, joining two million followers of Islam from across the globe as they descended from Mount Arafat.
The religious festival is held roughly 70 days after the end of Ramadan and remembers Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael as an act of obedience to God.
These days, many Muslim families donate money to charities to slaughter lambs on their behalf.
Rawah Elsamen, from Greenacre, said she had donated her lamb to an overseas family.
EID AL ADHA Speech presented by the President of the Lebanese Muslim Association at LAKEMBA MOSQUE – Tue Nov 15 2010
Bismillah Al Rahman Al Rahim.
Allah Akbar Allah Akbar Allah Akbar
Allah Akbar Allah Akbar Allah Akbar
Allah Akbar Wa lilah Alhamd
Dear brothers and sisters Al Salam Alakum Wa Rahmat Allah Wa Barakatoo
Welcome all dignitaries, Federal and Local MP’s, Community Leaders, Councillors, ambassadors, Imams, Scholars, and the local police commanders.
Today holds great significance across the major religions of not only Islam but also Judaism and Christianity, as it commemorates Abraham’s near-sacrifice of Ismail.
Bound to the altar, Ismail is spared at the last second, as his father’s knife falls on a lamb rather than his beloved son.
Eid Al-Adha is also a great reminder to all humanity of the importance of principles, such as faith, repentance, honesty, simplicity, equality, and concern for the dispossessed and the poor. It also teaches us that we share a common humanity that should inspire us to work together as one people for the good of our country. We should let the values of love; sacrifice and compassion influence our everyday interactions with one another, irrespective of ethnic and religious origin.
This event has also become an important part of the pilgrimage, where millions of people travel from across the world to the place where such an event took place. Those that have been chosen to attend such a place are blessed; and, therefore, I congratulate all our Muslim brothers and sisters from Australia and from around the world who have been granted the chance to undertake such a journey and we ask that ALAAH (SWT) accept their pilgrimage and extend our best wishes for their safe return home to their loved ones.
Today, I want to deliver a strong message to our community.
A message to stand up and be represented!
Our community is in desperate need of political engagement.
An engagement that recognises our right to be a part of the political process!
An engagement that does not silence us and take our vote for granted!
As a community, we certainly have our faults – not least is our desperate need to overcome our own internal disputes that divide our community.
Never before have been in such great need of uniting for causes that simply cannot be ignored.
The Muslim community has had to confront a number of serious issues in the past months where our elected representatives in the New South Wales Parliament and Local Government have turned their backs on our community for basic political point scoring!
I want to convey a message that the Australian Muslim Community does not yet appreciate the power of its vote.
And it has certainly become apparent that our elected representatives do not appreciate our vote or our concerns.
The LMA plans to lead the Muslim Community down this path of participation for the long-tern betterment of our community.
We hope to provide political empowerment through relevant educational programs that will focus on the value of our vote based on democratic principles and Australian citizenship.
The vote of the Muslim community cannot be taken for granted.
We have reasonable and solid expectations of what our community deserves, not as Muslims, but simply as Australian citizens.
We need to ask:
“Are those we elect as local representatives committed and able to represent our electorates, which are home to Australia’s most prominent mosques and its largest Muslim population?
It is a failure on our part to not have a formulated opinion on who represents us in the State and Federal parliaments and the Lebanese Muslim Association will lead the way to achieving greater political awareness for our communities.
I want to illustrate to you the importance of political participation and how our community has been consistently sidelined:
Rookwood Cemetery is the place that most of our deceased brothers and sisters rest. Soon, there will be no more burial spots for Muslims left in Rookwood. To alleviate this, the LMA purchased a whole existing cemetery in Narrellan.
We did this without any support, financial or non financial, nor any assistance from governments. This is despite the fact that it is a matter of the Health Portfolio and Land Ministry to administer burials.
Firstly, we have been denied the right to create a path for people or equipment to navigate the graves – so as it stands, the graves are inaccessible. The official reason of council for denying approval for a path is because it disturbs the wildlife and their natural habitat.
Secondly, we cannot build a small shed to store the equipment necessary to create and complete a grave. So as it stands, we have to fork out the time and cost of transporting the equipment from a location outside the cemetery, to the gravesite. Again, the official reason of council for denying approval for a shed is because it disturbs the wildlife and their natural habitat.
Another matter is Roselands mosque, which was been well reported. It is a sad story of how we purchased an existing place of worship, with the intention of providing for Muslims of that locality, and reducing traffic density at Lakemba mosque, but ended up with a mosque that is limited to use three prayers a day, three days a week.
A New Development Code is being considered by our local council, where restriction will be imposed on the number of worshippers, frequency of services, size, parking which will not be feasible.
Regrettably I feel that those with political power do not fully understand the message that is sent to the Australian Muslim Community when they seek to limit when a Muslim can enter a place of worship or how often it is used.
But I stand before the Australian Muslim Community today and ask you to play your part and take your vote seriously and determine whether this is acceptable support from those that you yourselves have elected.
Instead of giving away your vote so predictably, lets engage with our political leaders and find out what they plan to do for US!
The message that has come through very clear from our elected members in Parliament is that safe Labor seats like Auburn, Canterbury, Liverpool and Lakemba are not seats the Labor Party need worry about.
My message is very clear – complacency at the March 2011 election will be met with surprise. What is already apparent is that there is no such thing as a safe seat in the 2011 election. The vote cast by the community at the next election will be considered and reflective of the constant silencing of our community.
Our community has been led to believe for many years that the Australian Labor Party is the only party that supports migrants, has progressive social policy and is the voice of the working class. A very basic look at the communities Labor represents tells an alarming story:
I want to be very clear here: the grievances and concerns in these electorates are not exclusive to the Muslim community
Take access to healthcare as an example.
Bankstown/Lidcombe hospital has the 3rd longest waiting list in the state of New South Wales with 2, 324 on a waiting list for surgery!
The combined number of people waiting for surgery in the electorates of Banstown, Liverpool, Canterbury and Fairfield amount to over 8, 500 people. Add another 1500 people if we count Westmead hospital!
Think about that figure: 8,500 people waiting today for surgery.
Equally alarming are the unemployment figures that have simply gone out of control in Labor’s safe seats!
Our community lives in the highest unemployment electorates in New South Wales.
From November 2007 to August 2010 – 6,940 people have lost their jobs in the Fairfield/Liverpool electorates!
In Canterbury/Bankstown, 4260 people have lost their jobs.
That’s over 11,000 people that have their lost their jobs in Labor’s safest seats!
What is most intriguing here is the comparative study with the St George/Sutherland district.
In the St George / Sutherland electorates, 10, 780 NEW jobs have been created!
And what a surprise that Labor’s most marginal seats are in the electorates of St George/ Sutherland area.
Let us make no mistake here: this criticism is of the current government and our message is not to political parties but future governments – large sections of the broader NSW community cannot be taken for granted and sidelined from the political process.
We recognize that change does not come about through blame and accusations.
We have the vote and the responsibility to initiate change through action.
Responsibility falls upon every one (state the hadith of the prophet SAW, you are all responsible and each is responsible for his flock)
We share the blame for our current condition and the way in which our elected members engage with our community and it is us who have allowed our elected representatives to ignore and discount our needs.
For the sake of building the future
For the sake of providing a platform for our next generation
For the sake of our own dignity
For the sake of our responsibility toward each other
The Least that we can do is have a considered opinion and deliver a clear message.
The Muslim community will not be taken for granted.
March 2011 is the platform to be heard and to ensure that our needs are being heard and accounted for in the state Parliament.
As a religious community we deserve the right to practice our fundamental/core and basic religious articles.
Our country is one that that prides itself on being a pluralist and democratic state, advocating freedom of speech and religion.
These restrictions to places of worship we are seeing from Canterbury Council are serious. The rhetoric we are hearing and excuses under the guise of SAFTEY, SECURITY, IDENTITY, and the rights of others to enjoy peace and quiet, traffic, noise, is plain offensive. The political fear-mongering must stop!
The legitimate concerns of the broader community must be heard and presented in a respectful manner to an audience committed to uniting communities – NOT driving communities apart!
The Muslim community will no longer participate in workshops, committees and seminars that simply provide a platform for ignorance, bigotry and racist attitudes.
We are here to participate in constructive and consultative dialogue that is inclusive and committed to genuine goals.
We know what our community deserves = representation that accounts for minimum acknowledgement of our basic needs that not only guarantees us our right to practice our religion but also adequate access to services such as health and education.
We are a prospering community growing not only in number, but also in knowledge and faith.
I want to finish by telling the Australian Muslim Community to expect more from the leadership of the Lebanese Muslim Association.
I also want to urge our elected representatives to listen to the needs of this community and no longer discount our vote.
Engage with us, and extend the basic rights of political participation for the betterment of the wider New South Wales community.
The issues I have raised not only affect the Muslim communities – the broader communities of Auburn, Lakemba and Canterbury are all disadvantaged by political disregard.
Work with us, represent us and be acknowledged. We are on the road to change and I am confident this change will bring with it a new level of political consciousness.
Finally On behalf of the Board of the LMA I would like to thank all those who have helped in the preparations for this day, the Campsie local commander Ian Dickson and his department, and Bankstown local commander David Eardley and his office, Canterbury & Bankstown Council and our youth committee and volunteers and I wish all my Brothers and Sisters a blessed Eid al Adha and may Allah (SWT) bless us all in gaining the knowledge and wisdom in delivering his message and may Allah (SWT) bless this country of ours and grant us the ability to do good and forbid evil. May Allah (SWT) open the hearts of those who have misjudged us and we seek their forgiveness if we have done them any harm.
Allah Akbar Allah Akbar Allah Akbar
Allah Akbar Allah Akbar Allah Akbar
Allah Akbar Wa lilah Alhamd
Wa Salam Aykum wa rahmat Allah Wa Brakathu