A decade on since 9/11 and interfaith groups continue to work towards a multi-faith Australia. Nathan Coates reports.
Imam Amin Hady, leader of Zetland mosque, says he faces misconceptions about his faith and feels obliged to apologise on behalf of Islam after 9/11 despite a diverse congregation of ethnicities during Ramadan celebrations.
According to Mr Hady an estimated 500 to 600 people attend Friday prayer and the congregation at Zetland mosque includes “people from all walks of life and country of origin…The Middle East, Asia, Africa…also from Europe…and there are so many Australian converts.”
A recently published 12-year study, which surveyed over 12,000 Australians as part of the Anti-Racism Project at University of Western Sydney showed that although the majority of Australians are “secure with cultural difference….there are still pockets of the country that hold on to ‘old-fashioned’ racist views.”
Over 40% of respondents agreed that ethnic diversity weakened Australia. And over 40% agreed that some cultural groups didn’t fit into Australian society.
Trying to create an Australian brand of Islam that is multicultural may not occur in every mosque but Mr Hady says “it is the essence of the teaching of Islam.”
Jeremy Jones from the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council said: “immediately after those events [911 attacks]…we had a big interfaith gathering at Martin Place and Amin Hady was the key Muslim religious person.”
Mr Hady claims that an “imam is a title for a religious cleric who is in charge of religious matters for the community and usually he will be based at a certain mosque.”
Mr Hady, has been the imam at Zetland mosque since 1998 and has promoted a pluralistic and moderate approach by engaging the local community on issues including the role of women.
Reverend Tara Curlewis, from the National Council of Churches has been visiting Zetland mosque for three years.
Ms Curlewis said: “the faith community is trying to recognise that we are not only a multicultural society but we are also a multi-faith society.”