Whilst retrieving mail from the letterbox out front of my apartment.. a glossy flyer in the garden catches my eye. It’s black and red and mean looking. The text reads STOP! THE MOSQUE. Further details of a community gathering to oppose the building of a mosque in Currumbin are included. My journalistic senses tingle. My initial thought “I wonder what kind of characters show up to a town meeting to oppose the building of a mosque”.
I call my Blank editor immediately and ask if she has any suggestions. Am I likely to come face to face with bucket loads of hate-speak? Yes. Am I likely to get lynched for being calm and open-minded? No. Are there likely to be scary looking dudes with southern-cross tattoos in the crowd? Most likely. But there are also likely to be people who look plain and normal too.
Sunday rolls around and I feel my heart racing as I enter. WTF am I doing? I am extremely uncomfortable around aggressive and angry mobs. Especially sober mobs. Drunken mobs are rarely organised or cohesive in their collective hate. As I breathe I remind myself that there is most likely just going to be a collection of concerned friendly citizens who wish to be informed of the potential future of their community. I stride forward confidently with a coffee and immediately I see the shaven head of a 50-something male with a southern cross tattoo etched into his cranium. Fark……
The chief speaker for the day informs the swollen crowd of the latest Mosque proposal updates. He insists the nature of this project is insidious. That the traffic generated by attendees at the mosque will be chaotic and the parking catastrophic. That the local businesses will suffer due to these nuisance crowds. All potentially legit… But then he declares “a mosque offers nothing positive for the community”. I stifle a LOL and check nobody has noticed. “Offers nothing?” I’m not an expert and know little of the social sciences which measure the success of a community but am certain I am now listening to bullshit being preached. Time to leave.
To round off this article with some basic objectivity I contact Hussin Goss. He’s the acting president for the Islamic Society on the Gold Coast. A very warm and well spoken character. We chat for half hour. Practically besties by the end of the chat. The question I’m dying to ask:
Could you please describe in brief how a mosque contributes to all residents of a community and not just the Muslim population. “In brief (this will be hard)… One example that springs to mind is the flood relief service in 2008. 150 volunteers were summoned to help pack and transport 30 tonnes of food hampers right here in Arundel. There is also our ongoing services such as a constant steam of clothing donations toward the Salvos,” Hussin said.
Myth f*cking busted! Hussin informs me that his family has been here for 100 years. His grandparents and then later his parents emigrating from Pakistan. Part of his role as president includes overseeing the services for births, marriages and deaths in the local community. So I guess aside from all of this, a mosque provides nothin(insert sarcastic sigh).
If our Blank audience would like to become better informed of Islam on the Gold Coast where can they start? “Go to the website goldcoastislam.com.au. We welcome all visitors here to the mosque at Arundel. You can also follow me on Facebook (Hussin Goss).”
Pro mosque for Currumbin or not. All members of the community are entitled to an opinion and I felt privileged to participate with those who are clear on their stance. I do worry that such matters are often decided upon by individuals digesting second-hand misinformation and irrational learned prejudice rather than anything resembling fact. May this encourage you to seek for yourselves the answer to the question of a Mosque in the Currumbin district.