Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Courageous Tom's Zeal

Tom Zreika has written a report according to the latest Media, which has called on Muslim imams to become more involved in their local communities and for Muslims in general to 'mend their ways'. This is a very brave stand for a leader to make, but not a very diplomatic one. Tom has been at the forefront of efforts to try and stem the damage from the recent Sheikh Taj incidents, but has had limited effect, as Sheikh Taj has regularly ignored or deliberately done the complete opposite of Tom's requests.
Toufic (Tom) has an excellent understanding of the ways of the Australian people, but he is losing touch with his own it seems. When the honour and dignity of a Muslim Arab is threatened, then the only face-saving way to deal with an issue is to react aggressively. This has nothing to do with logic or sense, but is often an emotional reaction to a perceived injustice - even when wrong has been done by the Muslim himself. Younger generations are hopefully learning that emotional aggressive reactions - such as the threatening phone calls that Toufic is currently receiving - will not solve any problems and ultimately won't even make the aggressor feel any better. From my own experience, gentle recognition of the facts of the community are necessary in order to be accountable and honest. Then, negotiations and face saving leverage is generally needed in order to achieve good outcomes for the community. Public announcements damning what is obviously a problem, without practical solutions to fix the underlying causes, will almost certainly result in further alienation. In this case, Toufic (Tom) needs to find a face saving way that Sheikh Taj can be honoured for his community work, but kept from opening his mouth. Probably a few well placed minders to keep him from speaking publicly, meeting with community workers who speak Arabic and can explain the politics of how to give Islamic advice without being politically incorrect, and supporting the mass membership of Muslim University students (especially those in accounting and economics) can perhaps turn the tide for the ailing Lebanese Muslim Association.
Above all, the one thing that is needed is patience!
Good luck Tom..