The principal of the school explained that, as that day was part of a solemn ‘holy’ observance time for Muslims and a time when their religion discouraged any ‘joyousness’ the students were permitted to leave assembly for the duration of any singing.
Well, what followed was amazing. Apparently, someone reported this happening to local media and the next thing was an avalanche of hate messages and abuse on social media, accompanied by a grandmother speaking out on radio for many minutes about how ‘ungrateful’ were the Muslims who had been ‘welcomed into this country of ours’ and yet ‘refused to sing our National Anthem’.
The vitriol that was aired on every platform that day was horrendous. Few people had actually read or understood the real reason for the students briefly vacating the assembly room on that day.
One of the things that struck me was that people were associating the entire Muslim community with world-wide acts of terrorism and accusing all Muslims of ‘hating’ Australia and Australians.
But it was quite clear where this current flood of hate was emanating and it wasn’t from the Muslim community, but towards it.
One on-line news outlet posted this question:
Do you believe Muslim students should be allowed to leave while Aussie anthem is sung?
The answers flowed immediately, spewing mostly hate and oft-times vile comments.
To put a slight perspective on this social media hate avalanche, I (unwisely, perhaps) added a comment.
My comment simply said:
‘As a teacher, over many years I have watched as (student) Jehovah's Witnesses have left assemblies as the National Anthem has been sung. Is this different?’
Thankfully, someone called Beck answered with: ‘No, it's not.’
And I was pleased that my comment received several ‘likes’.
But, then this popped through (from Samantha): ‘What? We're really in trouble if you're teaching our children’
What did that mean?
My first instinct was to reply, by simply asking ‘Why?’ but I thought better of it, realising that it was better for me to extricate myself from that particular news outlet and let the ‘commenters’
have their say until they had had their fill of Muslim hating for the day.
Can you see the pattern emerging here? I have no particular love for Muslim beliefs or customs, any more than I have a particular fondness for any specific religion or custom.
But the sheer hostility towards the Muslim community is reaching fever pitch, so much so that people are voicing meaningless garbage.
I admit to being slightly irritated when, over the years, in all the schools I ever taught, children whose families embraced the Jehovah’s Witness beliefs did not join in the singing of the Australian National Anthem. However, I accepted their different views and no one ever phoned into radio stations to voice their consternation.
It seems that, in the school currently in question, the Muslim students usually enthusiastically join in the singing of the National Anthem but it was just at this particular time on their religious observance calendar that they demurred.
Keeping in mind that the first line of the Australian National Anthem is “Australians all let us rejoice…” and these students were avoiding singing and anything joyous. Seems sensible? Understandable?
Sure, we all know that the current wave of terrorists claim to be devout Muslims, but there are other religious fanatics of all creeds who wreak havoc and terror in the name of their religion. The majority of ‘ordinary’ Muslims who have settled in Australia seem to be peaceful and family oriented people.
Why then was there so much hatred aimed at them all because of the (understandable) actions of some, on one day in their religious observance? And why was the anger stirred up by certain sections of the media?
I, for one, do not think this abuse was deserved and I am ashamed of my fellow Australians who felt the need to attack.