Last Updated: Tue Nov 02, 2010 12:03 pm (KSA) 09:03 am (GMT)

Australian Muslims say school refusal is 'racist'

Malek Fahd Islamic School in Greenacre, Australia (Courtesy Sydney Morning Herald)
Malek Fahd Islamic School in Greenacre, Australia (Courtesy Sydney Morning Herald)

An Australian Muslim group charged Wednesday that a Sydney council's refusal to allow an Islamic school to be set up in its area was a "victory for racism".

Camden Council, on Sydney's south-western outskirts, unanimously rejected the application for a 1,200-pupil school on Tuesday night, prompting cheers from hundreds of residents who attended the meeting to oppose the plan.

While the council said the decision was based on planning issues, the proposal sparked ugly protests, including two pigs' heads impaled on spikes at the school site last November with an Australian flag draped between them.

Muslim community organization Forum on Australia's Islamic Relations (FAIR) said it did not accept the council's explanation.

"Planning grounds is only a smokescreen for the real issues which were related to community tensions and potential social upheavals if the school was approved," executive director Kuranda Seyit said.

"I see this as a victory for racism."

"We don’t want Muslims in Australia"

Resident Kate McCulloch, who attended Tuesday night's meeting in a wide-brimmed bush hat wrapped with an Australian flag, said Muslims were not welcome in the semi-rural area.

"We just don't want Muslim people in Camden," she told reporters after the meeting.

"We don't want them not only here, we don't want them in Australia. They're an oppressive society, they're a dictatorship."

Australia has more than 340,000 Muslims, according to the latest 2006 survey, with many concentrated in Australia's largest cities Sydney and Melbourne.

One male resident expressed concerns Muslims would take over the area if the school was approved.

"My kids can't read Islamic, how are they going to go to that school, it's all crap," the man told ABC radio.

"The next thing there'll be a mosque, then there'll be the little town that comes with it. It's not appropriate for the area at all and common sense has prevailed."

The school's backer, the Quranic Society, has said it will appeal the council's decision in the courts.

In 2005, anti-Muslim sentiment boiled over into riots on the Sydney beach suburb of Cronulla, where rioters targeted people of Middle Eastern appearance.

And in 2004, a severed pig's head was impaled in front of a Muslim prayer centre in Sydney's northwest.

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