ACT News


Australia Day 2016: Muslims to distribute 'loyalty to country' leaflets

This Australia Day, Muslims will be distributing leaflets adorned with the national flag around Canberra to profess their loyalty to the country.

The Ahmadiyya​ Muslim Association's ACT branch will join other members around Australia to hand out up to 500,000 pamphlets titled "Muslims for Loyalty" amid a domestic and international political climate in which debate rages over Islam's relationship with the rest of the Western world.

Ahmadiyya​ is an Islamic movement with the slogan "love for all, hatred for none". The association's ACT external affairs secretary, Abdul Latif,​ said the leaflet distribution was about promoting a message of peace and patriotism.

"There are bad impressions due to bad actions, so we want to distinguish ourselves as one of those groups who are more supportive of the country where we live," he said.

"This was the most appropriate day to do it, and we want to join other community organisations in celebrating the day."

The leaflets, featuring the Australian flag above an Ahmadiyya logo printed in gold writing on a green background, feature lists of contributions followers make to the wider community and charities they have supported, including Clean Up Australia Day, the Cancer Council and Guide Dog Association.


It also includes quotes attributed Ahmadiyya founder Mirza Ghulam​ Ahmad​, current head Mirza Masroor​ Ahmad​ and the prophet Muhammad stressing the importance of loving one's country of residence.

The Ahmadiyya faithful will be hosting barbecues and flag-raising events at mosques in some state capitals, but Mr Latif said the Canberra members would attend other community events to hand out the leaflets as they do not yet have a mosque in the ACT.

In the past 12 months, debates about Islam have centred around acts of violence and political rhetoric.

During that time, former prime minister Tony Abbott called for religious leaders to describe Islam as a religion of peace "more often, and mean it", a police accountant was murdered in Sydney's west, anti-Islam rallies were held in multiple Australian cities, US presidential hopeful Donald Trump proposed to ban Muslim immigration to his country, the federal and NSW governments prepared stronger counter-terrorism laws and two terror attacks struck Paris.

A University of South Australia survey released last week also found 10 per cent of Australians were "highly Islamophobic", though the ACT was rated as the least Islamophobic of all states and territories.

Mr Latif said Canberra worshippers had not felt threatened by their fellow residents.

"To be honest, the Canberra community and wider community is very nice and they are well educated, so we have not experienced anything like that," he said.

"When something does happen, we just take it as something that you can't avoid."