Attacks on Muslim women a ‘sad indictment’ on Brisbane

It’s the ugly side of society and, of late, it has only been getting worse.

Brisbane’s Muslim population, particularly women, have increasingly been subject to both physical and verbal abuse amid terror raids and Australian military action in the Middle East.

On Tuesday Queensland police charged a 44-year-old Windsor man after he allegedly threatened to light a woman’s headscarf on fire in West End.

And Fairfax Media has been told of an attack on two Muslim women at Toowong last week, which was not reported to police.

One of the alleged victims, who did not want to be named, recounted her experience through a third party.

She said she and her friend, who had just finished shopping, were waiting a Toowong bus stop on Benson Road when some tormenters drove past and threw a ham sandwich at them.

“They were early- to mid-20s. When one of the men threw the sandwich, the other two were cheering,” she said.

“The driver was also cheering and shouted something.”

The woman, who studied at the University of Queensland, said she was “stunned and sad” about the unprovoked attack.

“I came here to study and didn’t ask to be treated like this,” she said.

“In fact, I had only arrived recently. I fear for my life even when I’m in public.

“If I didn’t have my friend there I would have cried.

It made me feel disappointed too. Just because I wear the hijab, it doesn’t make me a terrorist.

“I’m from Malaysia and many other Malaysians have lived and studied here in peace.

“I’ve studied here before and this never happened to me before and I came back because I felt like Australia was safe for Muslims in general.”

Muslim community leader and Eidfest president Yasmin Kahn said it was an unfortunate example of an increasing occurrence in Brisbane.

“The idiot wasted good food – we’re not going to eat it, but someone would have – you’ve got to look at it from that perspective,” she said.

“…The fact that you’re thinking you’re going to disturb someone’s life by doing that and that you’re going to feel good about it, get off on it, well that says more about you than the person you’re persecuting.

“That’s what bothers me. There’s this attitude to go out and harass people that wasn’t there before.

“It’s a free country but to harass and persecute people is, well I hate the word ‘unAustralian’ but that’s what it is, because that’s not who we are as a people.”

Ms Khan said Muslim women were being warned  on social medianot to walk the streets by themselves.

“I mean, this is 2014, 21st century Australia downtown Brisbane and we’re telling our women not to venture out by themselves,” Ms Kahn said.

“That’s just a sad indictment on the city and I don’t know if the city in itself is that bad.

“I know we’ve had some horrific incidents around the city in the past six to eight months and I’m not saying that’s all related, but I’d hate to think that’s becoming a natural occurrence in Brisbane.

“I think these Islamophobic attacks are just a product of their time, unfortunately, because of uneducated gits.”

Ms Khan said other migrant groups, such as the Mediterranean influx of the 1950s and the arrival of Vietnamese boat people in the 1970s and 1980s, had suffered similar abuse.

“In a way, it’s an indoctrination into the Australian way of life – you come here, then we’re going to chuck shit at you for a little while but then you’re a mate, you’re an Aussie and we accept you,” she said.

“But this particular strain that is happening at the moment is particularly vicious, hateful, the vitriol is beyond good natured ribbing – it’s pretty vile, vicious stuff and that makes it a little more explosive than what previous migrants have had to go through.”

The current round of attacks, Ms Khan said, had become “more personal” because it went to the heart of Muslims’ identity – their faith.

“You see a lot of non-Muslim people coming out and saying ‘this is not who we are’, so I don’t doubt they’re in a minority, but before when you were in a minority you were a silent minority,” she said.

“Now, you’re a vocal minority because you’ve got keyboards, you’ve got airwaves and you’ve got lots of other ways to get your message out so in that regard it’s probably a bit easier to get this stuff out.”

Ms Khan said the Muslim community in Brisbane went back more than a century, so the Islamic faith was nothing new to the city.

“The Holland Park Mosque is 106 or 108 years old – it’s the second-oldest religious building in Brisbane – so it’s not as if it’s a case of ‘who are all these new people, these new foreigners? Everyone’s arrived since September 11’,” she said.

“We’ve been here for 150 years , for God’s sake, so we’re not a new phenomenon but the hate and the vitriol is a new phenomenon and again that’s being influenced from overseas.

“That’s not being helped by leadership, by the rhetoric, by the public discourse. That’s not being helped at all, unfortunately.”Click here for the Brisbane Times special feature: The Changing Face of Queensland.

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Dress inspired by fallopian tube goes on display in Brisbane

Brisbane artist Svenja fused a Victorian-era dress with a jellyfish mermaid look in this piece of wearable art. Photo: SuppliedA piece of wearable art inspired by a section of the fallopian tube has gone on display at Brisbane’s popular Craft and Quilt Fair.

Brisbane textile artist Svenja created the show-stopping piece Fimbria Figura after seeing a coloured, magnified image of the fimbria taken by a scanning electron microscope.

The dress is constructed from vibrant pink, purple and red silk organza screenprinted with the image and layered over a metallic foil jersey base.

Latin for “fringe”, the fimbria sits next to the ovary and sweeps the egg into the fallopian tube.

Svenja said she had represented this by distorting the dress with fishing line and stitching it into a circular pattern, with shibori-bound lame representing the finger-like cilia.

“I enjoy the freedom and opportunities that working in this medium allows,” she said.

“Textiles has it all – complete control of colour, shape, and texture that you can build into a sculpture.

“The human form provides a great framework for these works which often straddle the realms of fashion and art.”

Svenja has other work featured in the Brisbane Craft and Quilt Fair, which will take over the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre from Wednesday to Sunday.

Euphony Iridacaea is a working harp created from fibreglass iris petals, and Sirens of the Sea fuses an elegant Victorian-era woman with a jellyfish mermaid.

Svenja said after studying drama she took her first textile workshop in 2002 and decided it was the perfect way to fuse art and fashion.

She won her first Wearable Art Award at the Boonah Shire SPAR arts festival in 2007.

“Recently one of my costumes was featured in billboards for an Air NZ tourism campaign and street flags for a New Zealand Exhibition,” she said.

“It was such an honour.

“I am fortunate that it is now my full time passion, and I am enjoying my current explorations of more wearable constructions at TAFE.”

Thousands are expected to attend the Craft and Quilt Fair, which features displays, workshops and a range of experts on scrap-booking, knitting, card-making, quilting, jewellery creation, mixed media and more.

Brisbane artist Tricia Smout will show off Flowers of Friendship, a 4.4 metre long collaborative wall hanging made up of 495 separate flowers contributed by artists throughout Queensland.

The Queensland Quilters Inc display will feature 300 quilts to mark its 30th birthday and there will be a special Christmas-themed section dedicated to crafting the perfect holiday accessories.

Tickets for the Brisbane Craft and Quilt Fair cost $18 for adults, $16 for concession entries and $9 for children.

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Wyndham level crossings endanger commuters, says council

Lengthy delays at level crossings are putting the safety and prosperity of residents in outer western Melbourne at risk, a local council says.

Boom gates at Wyndham level crossings are typically closed between 12 and 35 minutes in the hour during peak times, according to a new report from Wyndham CityCouncil.

Mayor Bob Fairclough said it was common to see cars lining the streets for 400 metres in the morning peak as they tried to cross the railway tracks next to Hoppers Crossing Station.

The long delays at level crossings posed a safety risk to commuters, he said.

“We’ve had accidents and near misses. People get impatient, they do U-turns to get out of the queue, they get stuck between the boom gates.”

The council wants state government funding to replace four level crossings on the Werribee railway line with tunnels underneath the tracks, or bridges over them.

Two other crossings, at Forsyth Road and Derrimut Road, were already separated but their capacity needed to be expanded as more people took to the roads, it said.

Home to 200,000 people in 2014, Wyndham, which includes Werribee and the surrounding area, is forecast to grow to more than 341,000 in 2031.

Traffic crossing the Werribee line in the area will nearly double by the middle of the century, the council found, and as the number of train services also increased, the capacity of six out of seven road crossings would be exceeded.

The report said there was one railway crossing every 1.8 kilometres in Wyndham, compared with an average of one each kilometre across the rest of Melbourne excluding the inner suburbs – so the area would also need new crossings.

With the renovation of each crossing likely to cost between $60 million and $100 million, Cr Fairclough admitted getting funding for all the work was likely to prove difficult.

But he said the streets of Wyndham and satellite roads in and out of the area would only become further gridlocked if no action was taken.

The state opposition has promised to replace 50 level crossings with over or underpasses. Of the 43 announced, two are in Wyndham – at Cherry Street and Werribee Street in Werribee.

Public Transport minister Terry Mulder said the government had significantly improved public transport in the outer west, including adding 1400 bus services for Point Cook and last week promising 800 more bus services per week for Wyndham.

But it had not committed to removing Wyndham’s level crossings.

The RACV and Public Transport Users Association will join the council in launching the report on Wednesday.

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Innes an award finalist

Recognition: Peter Innes has been recognised as a community leader finalist in the 2015 Victorian Australian of the Year Awards. PICTURE: LACHLAN BENCEPeter Innes’s life work of striving to help people in the community has seen him recognised as a community leader finalist in the 2015 Victorian Australian of the Year Awards in the Local Hero Category.

Spreading his time between roles as a City of Ballarat councillor, primary school teacher and co-ordinator of Ballarat Secondary College’s LinkUp young parents program is no mean feat. But the Buninyong resident’s ethos is simple.

“I’ve always believed that if you think something should be changed, don’t whinge about it, do it,” he said.

Mr Innes has been a school teacher for decades and a councillor since 1993. But it is his tireless work as the co-ordinator of the LinkUp program which has seen him stand out from the rest.

The aim of the program, which is run by volunteers and teaching staff, is to support young parents to get back into education and the workforce.

“Since starting that group eight years ago I’ve had more satisfaction in my teaching career than I ever thought possible,” Mr Innes said.

“Some of these young people have had absolutely horrendous things happen to them. To be able to, along with staff, literally put them back together again and see them make something of their life is indescribable.”

Cr Innes said was humbled to be alongside the other three Victoria finalists in his category: breast cancer fundraiser Louise Davidson, humanitarian Justin Dickinson and child crusader Jane Rowe.

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Gillard to unveil bronze bust in Prime Ministers’ Avenue

File picture FORMER prime minister Julia Gillard will visit Ballarat on Thursday.

Ms Gillard will be at the Ballarat Botanical Gardens from 3pm to unveil her bronze bust in the Prime Ministers’ Avenue.

The highly anticipated visit, which will unveil the sculpture of Australia’s first female prime minister, comes after the release of Ms Gillard’s autobiography, My Story.

The sculpture has been in storage since Ms Gillard’s initial 2012 sitting in Melbourne.

The bust was created by Rubbery Figures caricaturist and cartoonist Peter Nicholson, who completed the piece in July 2012.

Mr Nicholson detailed its creation to The Courier in September.

“Creating Julia’s sculpture was just like creating any other,” Mr Nicholson said at the time.

“For me it was about showing her in light as somebody who was under extreme pressure but who wasn’t beaten down and still kept her head held high.”

Ballarat’s Collins Booksellers is also hosting a sold-out launch of her biography including a talk and book signing at the Deluxe Spiegeltent on Armstrong Street South from 6pm to 8pm.

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