Video transcript: Unlocking Doors: Muslim communities and police tackling racial and religious discrimination together
Question: Have you ever experienced racism?
- Yes I have.
Question: How did it make you feel?
- Upset, Worthless, Nothing!
- Indirectly yes.
Directly I haven’t and I think that’s because I don’t look like a typical Muslim - wearing the headscarf and so forth.
But because I do talk about Islam and I’ve got a Koran hanging out of my car.
Sometimes I do feel like I’ve been discriminated against whilst I’m driving
- Yes. Yes. I have. Work placement.
I was doing work placement up in the city. And the lady was actually Lebanese. But she wasn’t Muslim.
And she was talking to me how she would never let her kid marry a Muslim person and how much she hates them. How much they give her a bad name and stuff like that.
And after all that I told her I’m Muslim and thank you very much.
Well I’m not going to lie and say it didn’t hurt. I just let it go.
- In Hurstville area after the Punchbowl shooting I got told that “You’re an F’n wog”
Oh yeah…he was like telling me to “go back to your F’n country”…you know and “what are you doing here?”
“Trouble didn’t come to this country except from when you guys came” and all that stuff
- Oh, like you know remarks and stares here and there and kind of indirect harassment and that sort of thing
- I just remember once just being in Woolies (Woolworths) with my Aunty and some lady was hitting the back of the trolley into the back of my aunty’s ankles
And then I looked at my aunty and I’m...”Why didn’t you say anything?”
And she goes “I don’t”.
My Aunty’s ankles were bleeding and she still didn’t want to cause a scene.
She wanted to respect herself and it doesn’t look very nice if someone is yelling at someone.
- A friend of mine. You can call him a friend if you like. He came up to me and asked me - he said “I’ll come up with a joke for you mate”
I’m like “go ahead, buddy”.
And he goes “did you now that not all Muslims are terrorists?”
And I’m like “no worries”
But all Muslims…But all terrorists are Muslims.
And it really taught me a lot that. After six years at our school. This was back in Year Eight.
And after about five years I become more friends with him. Closer. And he started appreciating the type of person I am and that I have to pray five times a day because of religion.
I was still the same person it just meant that I had to do certain things. I’m not allowed to eat this, I’m not allowed to drink etc.
I can recall in Year Twelve after our HSC. He actually invited me to a party of his and I told him that I’m not allowed to go out with girls, I’m not allowed to have alcohol, music etc.
And he said look for the first hour or half an hour we won’t have that.
- And I stayed walking from the beginning of the tunnel to the end and he is swearing at me. I swear I was very scared. And I didn’t answer him back because I was scared he might bash me or do something to me and no-one is bothering to protect me.
- So I kept walking until I reached the end and the first person I called was my husband.
Question: Would you go to the Police?
- Definitely. Definitely, I think though coming from the background I am and the education I’ve had. I don’t hold back. I believe in rights and the laws are there to be used and we should use them for our advantage. So definitely, go straight to the police.
- In ideal I would of gone to the police. Even if they can’t do anything. Make the police aware that this happening. But she didn’t feel comfortable. What are they going to do?
- I work in the public service, I know the police have limited resources, you know. Limited funding. Limited personnel. So unfortunately, maybe the right thing or the wrong thing I don’t take that avenue as seriously as I should.
- I reported it at the police station, but nothing was done about it. Because no one rang me back or responded to me at all at that stage
I knew nothing was being done.
- My view is that many police officers are racist.
Young people are targeted because of they’re race and you know they’re appearance, the way they look like.
I don’t know. I don’t know, I just don’t think that they are the type of people I’d approach. They’re no people I’d approach.
- When you are in shock you don’t know what to do. Even at other times like we are sitting here now I say to myself “why didn’t I call the police?, why didn’t I call this and this?” But when you are in the incident, believe me you’re brain doesn’t think right.
- I don’t think people see them as being approachable. And you know they are already this big authority figure. And you know – how can - if you’re young, you’re easily intimidated. How are you supposed to approach someone like that?
Question: How can we improve the relationship between Muslim communities and Police?
- We need to get to the community. Personally, like the community overall we don’t want … - just organisations, representatives. We also want the community themselves to come forward and hear what the police officers are talking about and what the…human rights is talking about too.
- One of things that came out at our table was … was good cops. The spotlight needs to be on good cops and good policing. And there needs to be something done about bad cops and bad policing.
- Just common sense. Speak to people how you want to be spoken to.
Don’t think that just because you have the police uniform on that it gives you more power. It kind of does, but don’t use that power in a negative way.
Just try and communicate and try and just calm them down.
Boys are boys.
They are going to get fired up and they’re going to do stuff they’re going to regret.
But don’t be pig-headed like them and just try and calm them down.
Talk to them like they’re human.
- I think it is combatable. And it is very, I’m not going to say easy, but it’s doable in terms of tackling it. And the onus is on us Muslims to show everyone else that we’re Muslim, yeah, but were just like you.
- Probably interaction with one another on a social level. Grassroots level than, you know, official.
Interviewer: Something without uniforms?
Yeah. Like casual kind of functions.
- Relations with the police officers to find out more about what their role is in the community.
- Police aren’t understanding the community and the community isn’t understanding the police. And there’s no in-between where we can actually get to together and discuss these issues. There sort of…everyone comes in with a barrier, and I think, so that needs to be broken down. And I think we can do this through education, which is very important.
Putting together things like these forums, for police and community. Conducting workshops where educating the community about how the police do things and why they do things like that. And vice-a-versa.
That way we can get a communication happening and maybe brings down these barriers that make us feel so inferior to them.
There’s two little girls behind us talking and you can here them saying 'why do they wear the scarf, why do they wear the scarf'.
And then one little girl goes “they have to cover their hair”.
And the other one goes “why don’t they just wear a wig?!”
She thought we just had to cover our hair and that’s it.
But you know, we didn’t say anything to the kid. We just left them.