SHAFAQNA- In a silent protest against anti-Muslim bigotry in their community, a group of volunteers in Western Australia city of Perth have come together to clean hate gravity sprayed on mosques recently.
“We want to ensure that our fellow citizens understand they are our neighbors, they are our friends, they are our fellow citizens,” Victoria Martin-Iverson told ABC News on Sunday, November 23.
“We will not tolerate these kinds of racist, bigoted, embarrassing attacks.”
Grouping themselves under the title “The Anti-Bigotry Response Team”, volunteers from Perth community gathered to speak out against hate.
The group’s first meeting was held outside a Sikh Temple that was mistaken for a mosque and spray painted with anti-Muslim messages three weeks ago.
That incident followed incidents at two Perth mosques and an Islamic school which were painted with slogans including “ban Islam”.
“What we want to do is show members of ethnic and religious minorities that not everyone in the Australian community is bigoted and that there is a group of concerned citizens that welcomes Muslims, Sikhs … a multiplicity of religious and ethnic communities, we celebrate the diversity that immigration brings,” Martin-Iverson said.
The group’s calls have been welcomed by members of the Muslim and Christian communities who decided to join in the community’s fight against racism.
“We are quite connected now through the different religious communities and we’ve let them know we are more than happy to come out and roll up our sleeves, get a bit wet, get a bit grubby and make sure that members of our community understand that we are there with them and we will help,” she said.
Muslims, who have been in Australia for more than 200 years, make up 1.7 percent of its 20-million population.
In post 9/11-era, Australian Muslims have been haunted with suspicion and have had their patriotism questioned.
The anti-Muslim sentiments further increased following last week’s anti-terror raids, deemed the biggest in Australian history, in which 15 people were arrested from north-western Sydney.
The raids were followed by a huge number of anti-Muslim attacks, including a mosque being defaced in Queensland and direct threats issued against the Grand Mufti of Australia.