Muslim Protester Message to Kyle Sandilands

Australian Arab Affairs

Sydney, 14 October 2019. Over the last few days Iraqi people have been peacefully protesting in the streets of Bagdad and other Iraqi cites against a corrupt and religiously fractured government, high levels of unemployment and poor public services. Tragically, several Iraqis have died in these clashes between protestors and Iraqi security forces. The protesters are challenging the Iraqi Government and demanding that the Parliament be dissolved and replaced by an ‘interim emergency government’ to maintain national security, boost employment and provide basic services such as water and electricity.

Dr Laith Barnouti, Public Officer of the not-for-profit organisation, Australian Arab Affairs says, ‘A message of hope has emerged from these demonstrations as Iraq’s citizens denounce violence and encourage unity in the country. Iraq’s people are urging the Government and citizens to embrace religious harmony.

‘Iraqis in the streets are declaring that it doesn’t matter whether you are Christian, Muslim, Suni, Shia, Jewish, Kurd, Turkman or from any other religious or ethnic background. Their message is one of unity and harmony and that they are all Iraqis irrespective of their religion.

‘The Iraqi people’s message of unity is a blow against the Iranian Shia-backed Iraqi Government led by Adel Abdul Mahdi.

‘I was born and bred in a Christian family in Bagdad before migrating to Australia in 1998 to escape my war-torn country. I still remember the days where Iraq’s people respected all religions and lived in peace and harmony.

‘Kurds, Christians, Shiites, Turks and Sunnis peacefully lived together. People of different religious backgrounds happily co-existed in neighbourhoods, schools, universities and the Government. The average Iraqi didn’t discriminate based on religion—instead we were all proud Iraqis.

‘During the last few days I was struck by an online photograph of an Iraqi protester holding a photo of Jesus and Mother Mary. The basic message of any religion is peace, love and harmony and this protester’s action was a powerful message of religious unity.

‘Yet in Australia the media personality Kyle Sandilands recently expressed his intolerance towards people from different religious backgrounds on his morning radio program. Radicalisation of all forms is bolstered when people such as Kyle express bigoted and prejudicial points of view. Making such inflammatory statements serves to destroy the progress that has been made in bringing about unity and harmony in our society.

‘There is a clear distinction between freedom of speech and not insulting any religious idols. Narrowing our differences, bridging religious barriers and emphasising what we have in common is the way forward.

‘Maybe Kyle can learn something from a hunger-driven Iraqi protester in the war-torn city of Baghdad promoting religious unity,’ Dr Barnouti adds.

/Public Release.