I recently went to the open day of the Gungahlin Muslim community and had a very enjoyable but brief time there. I had to go and feed the five thousand descending on my place for a feed-up later that day.
The visit made me think of a few things.
Firstly the occasion was very welcoming. The speech by the Anglican minister down the road showed how interfaith can work if only we give it a go. The common thread was that people gather together to recognise, celebrate or worship the god of their choice. They don’t gather to plot the downfall of each other.
The second thing that occurred to me was that the building, something which will magically emerge on the footings visible to me, will be an welcome architectural addition to the town centre. It won’t be the archetypical mosque that some imagine but a house of prayer, quiet reflection and complementary architecture.
Anyone remember the hullabaloo that accompanied the thought of a mosque there? There were legal challenges which saw a decision in the High Court. The detractors and those with spurious arguments like traffic and noise were given a very loud and clear message. What part of NO! don’t they understand?
There was no such noise, no such legal challenge going to the High Court, no objections on traffic or noise grounds to the construction of the Anglican Church only two blocks down in the same street!
Now we see the same old hoary arguments being mounted against a mosque in Weston.
This is the same old argument presented by the same old objectors. Why don’t they just get over it?
Do they object when the Catholic and Anglican bells ring out on a Sunday morning? Have brekkie in Manuka at about 10 or 11 am on a Sunday if you don’t remember.
Are there volumes of letters to the paper about the missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) who come a-knockin’? And the Salvos are now in the limelight of the child abuse horror joining the Catholics and Anglicans.
Howe about some common sense? When did you last hear a knock on your door from a Muslim seeking to convert you? When was the last time you protested through the paper about the noise from St Christopher’s or St Paul’s? When was the traffic problem in Manuka laid at the churches’ doors?
Let’s count the number of mosques and Islamic centres in Canberra and measure them up against the number of Christian churches and temples and see how they fare.
How about some balance? How about giving reality to the notion of friendship to our neighbours? How about we set an example to the other capital cities? I happen to like and appreciate the Buddhist temples (check out the Lao one in Kambah), the mosque, the churches, and Salvos’ halls (check out Wanniassa). Check out the Hindu temples in Mawson and Torrens.
These are assets – not liabilities – for our city.