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Sweet Jesus, not another 'ragger'

By Irfan Yusuf - posted Friday, 20 June 2008

How's this for road rage. You've just moved to Sydney to take advantage of our higher wages. You can't afford a home close to work because of our higher rents, exorbitant house prices and rising interest rates. So you purchase a house on the city fringes in Camden.

It's late. You're driving home along Camden Valley Drive, through semi-rural bushland. Suddenly a tall, dark chap emerges from the bushes, running in front of your car. You swerve and just miss him. You're unhappy. You wind down the window and get a better look at the chap.

He looks to be of Middle Eastern appearance, his face adorned with a thick bushy beard and a larger-than-normal nose. He has long, dark curly hair and is wearing a long robe. He looks like he's been running away from some people.


But you're still angry. You scream out blasphemously: "Jesus f*****g Christ!"

I hope I haven't offended the religious sensibilities of Muslim and Christian readers. Despite some theological differences, both sets of believers look forward to Christ returning to establish peace and justice on the Earth.

The man looks up to you and says in a thick Bethlehem accent: "Why dost thou swear at my name? Thou surely art as imbecilic as the evil folk who runneth me out of Camden where I cometh to establish the kingdom of God on Earth. These folk doth confuseth my message with that of the Archbishop of Canterbury!"

Yes, Australia is full of strange people. Many Australians regard themselves as Christian and sing Christmas carols each December about a baby born in a manger in Bethlehem some 2,000 years ago.

A fair few of them honour the baby's mum, addressing their prayers to her in churches adorned by statues of her. Yet some of these people don't want anyone who looks like Jesus living in their neighbourhood.

And they certainly don't want to see women in the sort of Middle Eastern clothing Mary used to wear.


Recently the municipal council of the outer-Sydney semi-rural suburb of Camden ruled unanimously against a development application to build a Muslim independent school. Another high school is located a few minutes' drive up the road. The local council claims it ruled on planning grounds.

Many local residents, however, seemed less interested in planning issues. They focused on somewhat more esoteric matters. One resident showed his appreciation for the dress code of Christ's mum, telling ABC Radio: "If it [the school development] does get approved, every ragger that walks up the street's going to get smashed up the arse by about 30 Aussies."

Merry Christmas to you too, kind sir. But this gentleman's words were just a taste. The Camden Advertiser reported some of the 3,000-plus objections to the proposal, including this classic: "What next? A Taj Mahal?"

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First published in the New Zealand Herald on June 13, 2008.

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About the Author

Irfan Yusuf is a New South Wales-based lawyer with a practice focusing on workplace relations and commercial dispute resolution. Irfan is also a regular media commentator on a variety of social, political, human rights, media and cultural issues. Irfan Yusuf's book, Once Were Radicals: My Years As A Teenage Islamo-Fascist, was published in May 2009 by Allen & Unwin.

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