By Almir Colan
I will never forget it. It was election day and the last day of Howard’s government in office (2007). We held the premiere screening of our documentary film “Muslims in Australia since the 1600s”. All the viewers were ready to be proud of Muslim’s rich contribution to
Thinking about it now still sends shivers down my spine. That was a particularly hard time for Muslims as we were challenged on the very basis of our beliefs and values. Debate was depleting our sense of identity as well as our right to live in Australia. Many felt psychologically affected and did not know enough about Islam or Australian history to construct a meaningful response.
This is hardly surprising considering the fact that before this film most of us never even realised that Islam and Muslims were part of
Australia long before Europeans were. At the end of the screening, the audience was overwhelmed by the newly discovered sense of empowerment that can only come from confidence that is linked with history and the contributions that helped build this country.
One of the attendees summed it up when he said ‘hey, this is our country, I feel so proud”. Unfortunately, one would think that such a positive film would be appreciated by the media too, but, old habits die hard. After watching the documentary, reporters from ‘The Age’ and ‘Herald Sun’ advised us that they doubt their editors would allow them to publish their stories. They were right. I guess positive stories don’t sell newspapers. Negative responses were also received from ABC and SBS who came up with their own excuses as to why they can not air it. We have to understand: if we don’t promote ourselves, no one will. We have to start our own ‘education revolution’ by sharing this knowledge with family members and everyone we know. After all, it is only with knowledge that one can turn stereotypes and misconceptions around.
The film covers the following topics: Level of knowledge on Islam and Muslims, Early Indonesian contact, The Afghan cameleers, First Mosques in Australia, Islam and Aboriginals, Muslims of Today, Islam and new Muslims, The Hijab issue, Halal economic impact, Uniting against Racism and more.
Audience reaction (official screening)