The Middle East and the Australian Arabic Community‏

Speaker The Hon Shaoquett Moselmane
Business Adjournment speech  
The Hon. SHAOQUETT MOSELMANE [10.36 p.m.]:
I was delighted to hear that Australia recently won a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council. The Federal Labor Government and, in particular, our Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Bob Carr, must be congratulated on the effort and success. It is also a credit to the former Prime Minister, the Hon. Kevin Rudd, who laid the foundation to this victory.
With this success though comes a heavy responsibility. We have a responsibility to be fair and just and to look at international issues with both eyes wide open. Our credibility as a fair and responsible nation demands that we take just and fair decisions.
I hope that we maintain this position on the United Nations Security Council for the next five years and into the future as the United Nations deals with the tensions of the Middle East that directly affect, in one way or another, the Australian Arabic Community. 
So a peaceful future is as critical to the Arab peoples in the Middle East as it is to the Arabic community in New South Wales. We must be sensitive to their fears and we must be wary not to advertently or inadvertently play on political or sectarian differences or on charged political emotions that trouble some in the New South Wales Arabic community.
The Middle East is slipping into poverty and economic, social and political instability. The recent killing of the Lebanese Chief of Security had Lebanon teetering on the verge of civil war, only to be held back by some wise political leadership and, thankfully, a united Lebanese army. Now awash with weapons, Lebanon is an arena for regional and international disputes, ready to ignite.
I sincerely hope and wish that that does not happen.  Syria's internal war has to date accounted for the death of an estimated 30,000 innocent civilians, and sadly there is no resolution in sight. Syria's internal military conflict, fuelled by national, regional and international power play, has now spilled into Turkey with Kurdish fighters engaged in border combat with Turkish army units on a daily basis.
The Jordanians were recently successful in uncovering a terrorist plot, but the Jordanian authorities may not be able to prevent future internal strife. That in turn will have significant ramifications for the Palestinian people and the political dynamics with neighbouring Israel.
After seven decades of Israeli occupation, another Palestinian Intifada may well be on the cards. Libya and Iraq remain deep in military and political tension, and the Arab Gulf has not escaped turmoil with the Bahrain clamp down and tensions in other Gulf states remain high. I raise these issues so as to bring some light on and understanding of the many issues, as well as the political and military conflicts, that are of concern to the Arabic community of New South Wales. The Australian Arabic community is a diverse group of people coming from across 23 countries in the so-called Middle East.
They differ in historical, cultural, religious and sectarian backgrounds. However, they are united in language and to some degree by political traditions. Whether Coptic Egyptians, or Bahrani or any other communities coming from the Arab world, they are all in deep fear for the wellbeing of their families and friends, and for the future of their communities. 
Many of these communities have developed a growing sense of apprehension about tensions in the region and rightly so given the deteriorating circumstances. Unity amongst the Arabic community remains firm but cracks have emerged. Thankfully, most community leaders remain vigilant against emerging cracks and any attempt by extremists who seek to play on the community's sectarian and political differences.
The overwhelming majority of the leadership in the New South Wales community are alert and aware of the consequences of sectarian tensions. To their credit, they have resisted sectarian conflict and, as we have seen following the recent Sydney protest, they came together in a show of unity.
I take this opportunity to congratulate them and the leadership of the Australian Arabic community on their understanding and capacity to read the situation and resist rising emotions to get involved in the raging tensions of the Middle East.



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