Why is a Queensland senator with a 19 first-preference vote so obsessed with banning Muslim immigration?
If anyone should be spiteful at Muslims, many would say that it would be me. A 15-year-old Muslim shot my dad in cold blood outside the NSW Police Headquarters in Parramatta. If anyone should be marching upon Parliament House to demand an end to Muslim immigration, it would be me because a 20-year-old Muslim was sentenced to 44 years for planning the attack. If anyone should believe that Muslims are a “stain on our community”, it would be me because a 25-year-old Muslim was sentenced for 17 years for supplying the gun.
If anyone were to boldly believe that all terrorists are Muslim, I guess you could say that person could, and should, be me.
I cannot deny that at least three Muslims are directly linked to my father’s death. His murder. I cannot deny that they self-identify as Muslim. Nor can I deny that Islamic State is the violent propaganda machine behind their twisted ideology.
It would be frighteningly easy — and I choose those words deliberately — to keep indulging this train of thought. It is not that hard, really. A Muslim killed my father. His parents were Muslims. He was manipulated by other Muslims. They are related to Muslims. They probably came from a Muslim country. It is all their fault, kick them out, keep them out. Bob’s your Katter.
I might as well go all out and issue the claim that if we had no Muslims in this country, my father, Curtis Cheng, would still be alive. If we had no Muslims, we would not be in the “mess” we are today.
This is the narrative those who wish to divide us would have us believe. If I continue this train of thought, and victimise and persecute an entire group because of their religious/cultural background, then indeed this will be just like the Final Solution. And unlike some, I do understand the relevance of such an expression.
We who seek to see the best in what Australians stand for must believe otherwise.
I support that those responsible need to be punished. I support law and order. I believe that inclusion, acceptance and respect are the most important values we all need to display to create the society that we can all thrive in. Arbitrary cuts to immigration will not do that.
However, I will admit that I am tired. I am tired of needing to explain to adults that the actions of these individuals cannot be attributed to an entire group of people. I am tired of explaining that terrorism is a criminal and political phenomenon, not a religious one. I am tired of explaining that despite my unfortunate tragedy at the hands of Islamic extremists, it is those in my life who just so happen to be Muslim who make me understand the richness of the human spirit. My best friend is of a Muslim background. I have met inspirational students, teachers, activists, and politicians, who just happen to be of a Muslim background. Being a Muslim doesn’t make them a good friend or person. In the same vein, being a Muslim doesn’t make you a terrorist.
If I, of all people, can think this way, then sure as hell our “elected” representatives can think this way too … and while they are at it, cease the never-ending scapegoating. For there are no easier targets than those who don’t look or sound like you, and the dead. While I do admit that I’m tired of having to say this over and over again, and despite the fact that regardless of these efforts my father will never walk into my home again to share food with my mother and sister, I’m not going to stop seeking out the beauty, friendships, and empathy of those who make Australia worth standing up for in the first place.
Our futures are shared. Let us not forget that.
Alpha Cheng is a teacher and the son of Curtis Cheng who was murdered in 2015.
First published at The Sydney Morning Herald. Monday 19 August 2018.