Nina Trad Azam and Abdul Latifi Abdul Latif still sport the physical and mental scars of Islamophobia.
But together they are looking to find a ‘’silver lining’’ from their negative experiences and have some positive conversations with their community about peace, harmony and education.
So they have come up with Illawarra Peace, Coffee and Conversations. The fun event dealing with some serious issues will be held at Bulli PCYC on March 31 from 6.30pm.
‘’It is like speed date a Muslim,’’ Mrs Trad Azam said. ‘’The spirit of the event is to be fun, engaging and creative. No question is off limits provided it is asked respectfully and provided that question is also registered.
‘’There will be about 10 Muslim people from various backgrounds and professions on hand to answer questions including a Muslim woman who can dead-lift twice her body weight and is an academic with a masters degree in teaching to boot.’’
Mr Abdul Latif is still on crutches after his left kneecap was totally shattered when he tried to help three international students being attacked near a Gwynneville mosque in late January, but he wants to start a conversation about peace and harmony.
‘’This incident has happened for a reason and I want to capitalise on the incident and make sure we move forward in a positive way,’’ he said.
‘’We all need to contribute for our kids to live in a racist-free society. There is no place in our society for Islamophobia.’’
Mrs Trad Azam is also sick of ‘’seeing herself as the victim’’ and wants to contribute to community engagement in a way that can only benefit society.
‘’But there needs to be a distinct separation from the political fear mongering that people like Pauline Hanson are allowed to perpetuate,’’ she said.
‘’We want to show a counter narrative that we are Australians, we contribute, we pay our taxes, we have the same concerns and fears and hopes as everyone else and our children are not to be demonised because it suits certain agendas.
‘’We have the right to reclaim our identity and what defines us and it is the same values that are Australian values, not those that have been allegedly attributed to us.’’
Bulli PCYC manager Matt Bourne was happy to support Illawarra Peace, Coffee and Conversations.
‘’It’s a great event which helps create a cohesive community and we’re only too happy to help that process along,’’ he said.
Mrs Trad Azam said the aim was to hold similar events throughout the Illawarra.
‘’We are holding the event in a place that is not connected to any place of worship so all people can feel welcome to attend,’’ she said.
‘’There will be five or six people for every one Muslim. We are hoping to keep it fun, ask any question but no prophesying and please be respectful.
‘’It is just about breaking barriers, informing and humanising people that have been de-humanised for a very very long time.’’
Email email@example.com to register for the Bulli event.