Good evening Ladies and gentlemen. My name is Suzan Meguid.
I am a born Muslim. I was born in Egypt.
My family migrated to Australia
when I was 1 year old. I grew up in the Hills District. I attended Castle
Hill Primary School
and then James Ruse
High School. I am a pharmacy
graduate of the University of Sydney.
I currently own a pharmacy in Auburn.
I am also a mother of three beautiful girls. As you can see I am an Australian
girl who has done pretty much what most Australians do, study, work, get
married and start a family. Sometimes people ask me Ďwhat nationality are youí
and I reply ĎAustralianí. They say Ď yes but what
nationality are youí and I repeat ĎAustralianí. That is what I am. I have an
Egyptian cultural background but I am an Australian. Australia
is my country, my home. I sing the national anthem with pride just like every
I have lived in the Hills for over 25 years. I love the area
and would never move anywhere else. I feel at home there. I always tell my
Muslims friends how much I love living in the Hills. The people are so much
like me, hardworking, well spoken, well mannered and polite. They help each
other, chitchat, smile and are friendly. These are the
type of people I love living around. I am pleased to say I have not experienced
any alienation from my neighbours or my community. When I go down to the shops
I truly feel like everyone else there. I may look different because I wear the
scarf. But I am not different. And I donít believe anyone else there sees me
otherwise. Actually, I was grocery shopping one day and this lovely lady came
up to me and said Ď you are so beautiful. I love how
you wear your headgear. You look angelicí.
I take my daughters to swimming lessons every Thursday
morning at the Castle Hill RSL Club and I have made so many friends. The people
are so friendly. In fact, I think some people go out of their way to be extra
friendly just so they can show me that they are open minded and accepting. The
older ladies that do the aqua aerobics class while I am there are so great.
They wish me a happy Ramadan; they play with my girls and always ask how I am.
Some people ask me things about my religion,
which is fantastic. They often apologise and say ĎI hope I didnít offend you by
asking thatí. No way! I think itís wonderful that we
all get to know each otherís customs and beliefs. How else are we going to
understand each other and work together as a community?
Itís a real shame the media portrays the Anglo Saxon
community as being xenophobic; because this is not the experience I have come
across. I know the majority of my community are not narrow minded and certainly
I moved to Glenhaven 1 year ago, which is right next door to
Castle Hill. My neighbours came over to welcome my family and I. They look out for us and vice versa. Thatís what
neighbours do. We borrow eggs and sugar from each other, we talk over the
fence, we discuss schools, local events and so on. I
even went to cheer my neighbour on at the orange blossom festival recently. It
was great. 2 days ago my neighbour approached me on my way to work and asked if
my husband or I could mind her son after school for a couple of hours until she gets home from work. I was privileged, not only does she
enjoy my company but she trusts me with her children, which as a mother I know
is not easy to do.
After the events of September 11 and with the media
attacking the Muslim community the way they did, I was for the first time in my
life scared to go down to the shops. I wanted to cry out to everyone in my area
ĎI am the same person you saw as a friend yesterday and I like you am appalled
at this gross act of terrorí. After a day of sitting at home, which is quite
unlike me, I finally mustered the courage and ventured down to Castle Hill
Shops. To my astonishment I did not even get a second look. People went about
their business as per normal. The shop assistants were just as friendly; people
still made chitchat with me while waiting in line and mothers still came up and
adored my girls. I felt ashamed that I made the same mistake as the media. I
committed the crime that I beg people not to commit. I prejudged. I prejudged
that many would fall victim to the media hysteria when in fact my community
proved to me what I have always known and experienced, that they are open
minded, accepting, and caring people. They are Australians.
This probably all sounds
quite normal to you, well it is normal. This is what I am trying to say. I am a
normal Australian citizen like everybody else. I was at the Olympics cheering
on Cathy Freeman and Thorpe. I regularly go to the gym, I listen to 2dayFM, I
love sports, reading, laughing and socialising with my friends. As you can see
the scarf over my hair does not make me any different to anybody else nor does
it stop me from living a normal life and achieving my goals.
I am a pharmacist and I work in Auburn,
which is highly populated with Muslims. I meet Lebanese, Iraqi, Somali, Afghani
and Pakistani people everyday. They are just like us. Sure some of them may not
have grown up here and maybe their English is not up to scratch but they still
do the same things we do. They love, they laugh, they read, they go out and
enjoy the same things we do.
I laugh when I turn on the radio or read in the paper about
ĎIslamic terroristsí. Itís funny because Islam means peace. So this new phrase
the media has coined really means peace terrorists. Itís an oxymoron. It
just doesnít make sense. I think itís sad that our political leaders are
inadvertently instilling fear in the Australian community. Why would you want
your constituents to live in fear especially when there is no tangible or
credible threat to Australia?
Itís not healthy for a community. Itís not healthy for a multicultural
community. Itís just not healthy for this country. Islam, like Christianity is
a peaceful religion. The actions of individuals should never reflect on the
religion. Humans are humans, you get the good and unfortunately there are some
bad. The problem is though, once a Muslim does anything wrong, his religion is
immediately aired on every TV channel in Australia.
Which makes it just that little bit harder for us to prove that generally we
are a peaceful community.
I would like to finish off by asking each and every one of
you to open you hearts and minds to each other. Whether we
are Muslims or Christians, we all share common values. Lets continue live side by side in peace and harmony. Lets learn about each other
religions and cultures without prejudice. This, after all, is what makes life
Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you.
I feel the councillors fell
victim to general misinformation. Keyser Trad and I will make ourselves available
to address the Hills Community anytime the Hills Shire Council is able
to arrange a public meeting. I reach out to the mayor and the counsellors to
give the Hills residents the opportunity to have their questions answered.