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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Towards a Cohesive Australia, Nadia Jamal Speech Notes

The truth is that every day we share cultural experiences in ways that are not threatening.We do this at the most pedestrian level. For example, when we have Chinese food for lunch, watch a movie with sub-titles or sign up to learn a second language.In many cases, we enjoy these things even when we do not fully understand them. For me, being a Muslim is something that will never be up for negotiation. Just like I could never be anything but Australian.I believe that being a Muslim helps make me a better Australian.Why? Because being a Muslim is also about a fair go, about mateship and about respect for others, especially women. I am not saying you cannot define what it means to be an Australian or what is un-Australian ... but I think that in doing that we sometimes run the risk of over-defining.There is something to be said for the anger you feel when an Australian has been murdered in a terrorist bombing and there is something to be said for the tears that well in your eyes when Australia loses a big soccer match and there is something to be said for the pride that fills your heart as your plane lands at Sydney Airport.That something happens when you feel Australian. And most of us experience that everyday in some shape or form.We might not articulate it, but it happens.

Nadia Jamal has been a journalist at The Sydney Morning Herald since 1997, and is currently Deputy Chief of Staff. She has worked on the World desk, helping to coordinate coverage of major events including the war in Iraq, and editing the daily pages. She has also been the Herald's education and urban affairs writer.Nadia is the co-author of a book titled, The Glory Garage - Growing up Lebanese Muslim in Australia. The book was recently named as an honour book in the Information Books category of the Children's Book Council of Australia Awards for 2006. It was also shortlisted for the 2006 NSW Premier's Literary Awards Ethel Turner Prize.

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