I thought that this would be interesting to share with you all. I feel, in a way, this is something that everyone who is having doubts about the Muslim religion should read. I must say, after reading it, I hoped that those who are weighed down with racism would come to their senses!
Islamic school under siege
Seeking peace: Melbourne Muslims such as Ilker Dayakli and Shanaz Jamal have been the targets of abuse since the New York terrorist attacks last week.
By JOHN HAMILTON
THERE was a prayer written in Arabic and English on the whiteboard of a classroom at Ilim College yesterday.
It was for all of us who fear an unknown enemy at this uncertain time in the world's history.
"Oh Allah!" it implored.
"We make you our defence against their aggression and seek your protection from their evil designs."
Everybody is still shattered by what happened in New York and Washington a week ago.
None more so than the Melbourne's Muslim community. They have been the targets for abuse and attack.
It is time to stick up for these innocent victims of religious prejudice, fear and xenophobia. To tell the rednecks to knock it off and to give our Muslim community a fair go.
Three hundred kids - Australian kids - go to Ilim College in the northern suburb of Dallas, which is in the centre of our Muslim heartland.
They come here from Niddrie and North Melbourne, Kensington and Braybrook ... everywhere from Sunshine to Epping.
The girls wear white shawls on their heads and ankle length skirts. The boys have short haircuts and neat blue blazers.
And they say G'day and watch the footy, like the rest of us.
Most are Muslim kids coming from Turkish family backgrounds. Others have parents who have come here from Lebanon, Egypt, Syria and Somalia.
There are 30 staff here. Some are not Muslim. They include teachers with Greek, Sri Lankan and Polish backgrounds.
If there was ever an advertisement for successful multi-culturalism it is Ilim (it means Knowledge) College.
Yet, in the past week:
SOMEBODY tried to set fire to the school.
THE school principal's car was attacked and windscreen smashed.
THERE have been obscene and abusive tele-
phone calls and letters.
THE school is under extra police surveillance and protection.
But here is a place of peace, a place where staff and students are polite and open the front door to the stranger and make him welcome.
In the school hall there are two signs.
One says: "When we greet someone we say, `Assalamu Alaikum -- Peace be with you'. The other says: "And when someone greets me I answer, `Alaikum As-salam -- And With You Be Peace'."
Down the school's sunny corridors, above the kids' paintings and craft work, there are other signs, too. "Peace Be Upon You", and "May Peace Prevail On Earth".
Kadir Emniyet is the school principal.
He was born in Turkey but came to Australia when he was seven.
"I think of myself as more Australian than Turkish . . . I happen to be a Muslim by religion," he says.
He went to primary and secondary school here, then on to Melbourne University and RMIT to gain two degrees.
He taught at Collingwood College for 10 years before coming to Ilim in 1999.
"It has just been grow ing and growing ... today we have all ages from preps to Year 11, next year we will have our first VCE students," the head says.
The school was founded in 1995, with 52 students, by the Australian Islamic Society. It is non discriminatory - any kid can enrol here. Any teacher can teach.
The curriculum is the same as a state school - except Arabic and Turkish are the languages of choice, and there are two periods of studying the Koran each week.
All was normal at Ilim College until those terrible events began to unfold on our television screens last Tuesday night. Mr Emniyet, late home after a school principals' meeting, saw it all happening live.
"It was the most horrific thing I've ever seen . . . I felt I was watching some sort of apocalypse, the end of the world . . ."
Next morning the principal called teachers and students to a meeting.
"I told them that any Muslim who even kills
an ant will be questioned by God," he said.
"To kill human beings, innocent human beings, is beyond our acceptance.
"It cannot be justified."
But Mr Emniyet remains deeply troubled.
"Because of a handful of madmen the whole world is suffering and we . . . all of us, are also suffering in Australia.
"But you know, I believe in Australia we have the qualities that will enable us all to overcome this, that as Australians we are together.
"I hope this, for the sake of our kids."
And in the special room set aside for the teaching of the Koran at Ilim College yesterday, tiny kids were sitting on the floor learning the text for today.
It read: "Allah loves those who act justly."
*slaps her knee* Well Gee Golly Pete!