SPEECH – EID AL-ADHA CELEBRATIONS
SATURDAY, 4 OCTOBER 2014
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My fellow Australians
It is an honour to share in your celebrations today.
It is an honour to stand here in Lakemba, the heartland of Australia’s great and dynamic Islamic community.
Friends, I acknowledge that even as you gather in Sydney for joyous celebration, many present will have family on the other side of the world.
People you love who live in countries and communities torn by strife unimaginable here.
Our thoughts are with them today.
Right now, we face challenges at home too.
The challenges of division and exclusion.
I am sure – that from time to time – you have to deal with the shouting of ignorant intolerance, the ugly face of racism and prejudice.
These challenges have occurred before in Australian history.
Just ask Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Just ask the Southern Europeans arriving here after the second Word War.
The Vietnamese boat people.
Even the Irish Catholics.
My mother grew up an Australian Catholic, but barely 60 years ago she was refused work at her local supermarket because of her religion.
Times change but challenges will always occur.
So let us distinguish light from dark, understanding from ignorance.
There is hope in the promise of tolerance, love, harmony and peace.
There is no hope in the promise of racism, intolerance and condoning bigotry and violence, no matter how that promise is seductively offered.
Today in Lakemba, let us declare that the bigots, the racists, the haters, the extremists, do not speak for people of faith in modern Australia.
Modern Australia is our home, it is testament to what good can happen when we unite.
This weekend, tens of thousands of Australians will celebrate Eid Al-Adha – a feast marking a story of sacrifice shared by all three of the Abrahamic faiths: Islam, Christianity and Judaism.
Last week tens of thousands of Australians celebrated Rosh Hashanah – the Jewish New Year.
And later this month, tens of thousands of Australians will celebrate Deepavali – the Hindu festival of lights.
That is our modern Australia.
When Australians can come together we form an indivisible host of moral strength which gives Australia a better future.
A better future found upon love, understanding and peace not conflict and division.
Friends, tradition tells us that Eid Al Adha marks a fresh start – a chance to make new promises and new resolutions.
Let us today resolve that you have every right to have faith and pride in your Muslim heritage, not to isolate from Australian society and laws and customs.
But as a guide to show that Australians come from many cultures and cultures and religions.
Let us resolve today that every Australian, no matter what their faith, country of birth or gender should believe that their background is as equal as every other Australian.
Not superior or more worthy, but simply equal.
An Australian’s religion can be a base to build upon, not a destination to retreat into.
Let us resolve that prejudice and bigotry are illnesses which we treat by our commitment to citizenship, tolerance and understanding.
Friends, I have a powerful belief in Australians.
Australian Muslims, Australian Christians, Australian Jews and Australian Hindus, and Australians indeed of no faith.
Let us resolve however, that we should never surrender our faith in Australia.
To paraphrase what someone said, never lose faith in Australia.
Its faults are ours to fix, not to reject.
From the diversity of our people let us draw strength and not cause weakness.
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