Found an interesting article by Raymond Bonner of the New York Times on Muslims lifesavers in Cronulla, site of the race riots in Sydney a bit over a year ago.
Australian Muslims Go for Surf, Lifesaving and Burqinis
“As a teenager growing up in a Sydney suburb, Mecca Laalaa never felt anything but Australian, even though she was for the most part unable to engage in the most quintessential of Australian pastimes: swimming at the beach…Now, her clothing quandary solved by a novel fashion, the burqini, Ms. Laalaa, a vivacious 20-year old, has become a Surf Life Saver, as volunteer lifeguards here are known, lured to the beach by a new outreach program for Australia’s Muslims.”
An interesting example of Muslim contextualization don’t you think?
I think it is worth reflecting on the role clothing plays in assimilation woes. You don’t get a fraction of the same media commentary on Buddhists, even though Buddhists are more numerous and increasing at a greater rate in Australia. Why this perception? They just aren’t as visible.
Over the years I have heard numerous Aussies express fears of a ‘Muslim takeover’ but truly, I find that provides more insight into their personal paranoia than political reality. Not only are such claims disturbingly xenophobic, they are also laughable. Not only because of their extreme unlikelihood (a Buddhist takeover is far more likely by the statistics) but it also shows just how unaware some Aussies are of the religious diversity in their midst.