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Defining the Aussie Mussie

By Kuranda Seyit - posted Thursday, 13 August 2015


What's all this hoohar about Mussies? What actually, is a Mussie? Well, Eddie Maguire has really opened up a can of worms and thrown a spanner in the works while creating this storm in a teacup that has everyone running amok. The chat sites are alive with debates about to be or not to be Mussie? Well, I'm of the opinion that it's our term, we own it and we should decide who uses it 'and the conditions' in which they do, just like the n-word which is exclusively used by Afro-Americans, fair crack of the whip! Anyway, I hope you are getting the picture.

I am over doing it with the Aussie vernacular because I want to emphasize that we as Australians are famous for coming up with euphemisms and shortening our words, we are a nation of shorteners. I'm not sure if we are just lazy or if we are creative, probably both, the early settlers that came here in the late 19th and early 20th centuries had some time on their hands and were very inventive with their slang. It's not just here, language develops in this way for societies wherever they are in the world. Our colloquial language is alive and well. We won't merely say cup of tea, we say 'cuppa', sausage sandwich became a sausage sanga, telephone became the blower, we call food and drink coolers; 'the esky', and for good day; we say g'day.

And to be clear, the term Muslim refers to someone who adheres to the Islamic faith, the second largest religion and the fastest growing one in the world. It is Arabic for "one who submits"; as all Muslims submit to the commands of God. Unlike other major religions, Islam does not take its name from its founder or from the place where it originated. Such as in Christianity taking its name from Christ, Buddhism from the Buddha and Hinduism from the Indus region, Judaism from the area of Judea, Islam is a universal religion that takes its name from the term 'submission'.

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So when Eddie Maguire calls the Victorian Minister for Sport, John Eren a Mussie, it's important that we clarifiy a few issues about the term.

Firstly, the term Mussie is not something that Australian Muslims generally call themselves. But is it offensive? Not really, its an innocuous term that is not a problem per se but just a personal preference. But as I said its not really for people like Eddie Maguire to make that call.

The term came to light early in the 90's while we are not certain who coined the term, a proponent of the term Aussie Mussie, is Irfan Yusuf, a lawyer and social commentator and all-round funny guy. He has his own blog called Aussie Mossie. Academics have also used the phrase; Rachel Woodlock, has written an article on 'Being an Aussie Mossie: Muslim and Australian identity among Australian-born Muslims' for an academic journal.

Its important that we understand why people like Yusuf and Woodlock would push the term; its all about breaking down barriers. By using the term in his articles and blogs, Yusuf has cleverly broken down the stereotypes about Muslims. Such as them not having a sense of humour, or being dogmatic or extreme. The true Aussie Mussies are the ones who are easy-going, integrated and very comfortable with their identities. Yusuf, uses humour to further help integrate Muslims into our society.

Yusuf and I went to the same university during the same years and we come from similar mindsets, we love our cricket, we're comfortable with our identities and proud of being Australian Muslims. But to be fair for the most part of this century Muslims have been marginalized and isolated. In an attempt to breakdown the walls that were put up after September 11, in the mid 2000s, I established a newspaper called Aussie Mossie Newszine. A very popular paper with lots of articles and topics about social inclusion, interfaith, stereotypes, amplifying the voice of the mainstream Muslim community in our modern society. It was all about promoting Muslims as a part of the community and that no-one need be afraid. The reality is that Islamophobia is a problem on the rise in Europe, in USA and now here in Australia.

Some of our best known Aussie Mussies are 7pm Project host, Waleed Aly comedian, Nazeem Hussain, Amina Elshafei from Masterchef and Aussie Post CEO, Ahmed Fahour. And if our best known Aussie Mussie, Crazy John Ilhan, were still alive today, do you think that he would've minded being called a Mussie, I don't think so.

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We refer to one another as Aussies, it's a term of affection and we chant Aussie, Aussie oi, oi oi, during footy matches and the like. When Eddie, called John a Mussie, it was really a term of affection and I don't think he meant any offence, however, it is a term that Muslims should own and should use if they wish to. That's the bottom line.

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About the Author

Kuranda Seyit is a council member of the Sydney Peace Foundation, Director of the Forum on Australia's Islamic Relations (FAIR) and an independent documentary film maker.

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Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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