Over 150 faith leaders have signed a message of solidarity, expressing their dismay and empathy at “the way our Muslim friends have been affected by the language and tone of recent public statements and media coverage.”
The campaign, titled ‘The Welcoming Australian’ is asking members of the Australian public to support the Muslim community by signing an online statement headlined with ‘We’ll love Muslim’s for 100 years’.
The statement makes a play on a Weekend Australian story which ran on 9th August titled ‘We’ll fight Islam for 100 years’.
“Australia needs to prepare for an increasingly savage, 100-year war against radical Islam that will be fought on home soil as well as foreign lands, the former head of the army, Peter Leahy, has warned,” reads the top of the Weekend Australian article.
Brad Chilcott, who heads up the Welcome To Australia movement, and is the Lead Pastor of Activate Church in Adelaide, initiated the campaign and says its about pushing back against generalising statements about the whole Muslim community, ones that suggest “fighting against their religion, instead of extremism”.
“We want to let our Muslim brothers and sisters know that we agree that they’re being unfairly targeted,” Chilcott told Eternity. “That we would be likewise devastated if a headline ran “we’ll fight Christianity for 100 years” or if we had to defend our right to exist every time one of our members engaged in an illegal act.”
Tim Costello, CEO of World Vision, Andrew Dutney, the President of the Uniting Church of Australia, John Hickey, CEO of Baptist World Aid and Rabbi Zalman Kastel from the Together For Humanity Foundation are among the hundreds from diverse faiths to have signed the statement so far.
“Recent public statements and media coverage about Muslim-Australians in some sections of the Australian media have been inflammatory and divisive,” said Uniting Church’s Andrew Dutney.
“In our multi-faith society, Jesus’ call to love your neighbour means that Christians are called to meet, befriend and care about our neighbours who are Muslim.”
You can read and sign the full statement here, which ends by saying:
“We celebrate the diversity of the Australian community and recognise the valuable contribution of people of Muslim faith to our culture and community.
“We know that vilification and alienation are not the way to peace or social harmony, but that authentic relationships, solidarity, listening, learning and mutual respect go a long way to building the kind of community we’d like to live in.”More