TheGreat DivideFrom the blog:
Reporter: Michael Usher
Producers: Danny Keens, Julia Timms
Some say it's the very thing that makes Australia great. Others believe it threatens our national identity.
It seems right now nothing divides opinion like multiculturalism.
Our government insists it's working here, a shining example for the rest of the world.
But in some countries like Britain and Germany they've declared multiculturalism a failure, a disastrous social policy that's torn communities apart.
But let's be frank here. This debate isn't so much about race as religion and a fear of one in particular - Islam.
Read Michael Usher's blog on this story and have your say
Have a look at the waves of immigration over the years - Italian, Greek, Lebanese, Vietnamese and many more. Each wave and each decade has come with the good and the bad - the opportunities and the problems. However, each generation seems to find its place in Australia.
So why is it that the recent generation of Muslim immigrants is generating such fear and anger from so many Australians? Why do Burqas and Mosques offend?
I found it’s mostly to do with the Islamic extremists and their fundamental drive for pure Islam. Multiculturalism doesn’t feature in their thinking, wherever they live. There is only one God, one way of life, and one Islamic law – Sharia - no matter what suburb or country they’re living in. Islam is above all else.
Now the extremists don’t talk for all Muslims. But many Muslims are branded non-believers by their own if they dare speak out against the hardliners. So debate within the Muslim community is suppressed and the Muslim extremists rant publically as if they speak for all who follow Islam.
I spoke to some of those extremists in our story. Here in Australia and in the United Kingdom. I also interviewed a very moderate young Muslim woman, Samah Hadid, who lives in Bankstown and speaks incredibly honestly about what being Muslim means to her in multicultural Australia.
And perhaps a revelation for Michael Usher?
If I can lay down one personal opinion after talking with these people, it's that extremism has to be rejected and Islamic extremism is simply frightening. Pure interpretation of Islam shouldn’t force all Muslims to reject the societies where they settle, or inspire young minds to hate and attack the countries they call home.