THE one thing Gold Coasters have long been renowned for is our laid-back, fair-play attitude. For the most part, we’re a pretty easygoing, tolerant bunch and it’s something I’ve always been proud of.
But recently, I’ve noticed a subtle shift – not in the people of the Gold Coast that I interact with on a daily basis, but in the way the media is reporting about us.
If I were to believe all the news stories I read in the paper, hear on the radio and see on TV, I’d fear we’re becoming a group of intolerant, prejudiced, racist fear-mongers.
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In the last week or two, much local media coverage has been dedicated to Muslims on the Gold Coast.
We know that it’s always the loudest and the most outrageous voices that get the most attention, and in the midst of such horrific and frightening news coming out of the middle-east, it’s understandable for some of that fear to radiate amongst our local community.
Perhaps that’s why there has been a lot of reporting about the fierce opposition to the proposed mosque in Currumbin.
I’m just hoping that the racist, fearful placards and misguided comments we’ve been hearing represent only a tiny minority of our community.
Surely most sensible Gold Coasters don’t believe that a new mosque will lead to Sharia Law being forced upon the rest of Australia?!
Those who came up with the witty placards like “Super mosque today, Sharia Law and ISIS tomorrow, beheadings the next” seem to think so.
And let’s not forget the commentary we’ve heard from people like Larry Pickering, who blatantly admitted that his objection to the mosque “is not about carparks or proximity to houses. It is about what we don’t want to be a part of Australian culture and until those bastards in there are honest about it, then we will not take a step forward.”
Who are “those bastards” he is referring to?
Is it my four-year-old daughter’s best friend at kindy – an Australian girl, with Australian parents, who happen to be Muslim?
They are an ordinary Australian family, born and bred, but because they literally wear their religious beliefs on their sleeves, they face discrimination and distrust on a daily basis.
I get it – potential terrorism threats in our own backyard are terrifying.
But let’s not make the mistake of thinking that a handful of extremists doing truly horrific things, means that everyone in that religion thinks or acts the same way.
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