Are these 2 concepts contradictory? Not necessarily. Were a national government to emphasise:
- pride in a shared citizenship
- citizens integrating culturally, as in a goulash, curry, or stir-fried edibles of a wide variety (not as in an English salad)
- equal opportunity available under the law, in employment, in services, etc. (unlike the cheap labour provided to parts of Europe by former colonial subjects)
- the avoidance of ethnic enclaves, especially ones with a deficiency of necessary public services;
all of the above being the reality of Australia;
rather than the retention of those visible cultural practices which separate the population – often by intent, supported by the excuse of retaining ‘traditional culture’,
then ethnic or cultural identity would be a desirably subsidiary matter, but not competitive.
In the availability of policies offering equality and integration, why would a youngster born in Australia of ethnic ancestry, whether educated in a secular State school, or a religious school, choose to wear in public places a turban, or a skull cap, or a full-body-cover niqab, or even a hijab or a scarf covering the head, especially if he/she were a third-generation Australian? Surrounded by a wide variety of ethnic origins and mother-tongues, as well as by ‘mainstream’ Australians, what are some immigrant parents or their priests saying to their offspring and their multi-ethnic fellow-residents?
‘We are different’? Is that meant to imply ‘We are superior’, even to the host nation? The government of this nation allows immigrants into the country in the expectation of a united, coherent people arising in time from the admixture of ethnicities. It also ensures a secure life, with long-term welfare support. The nation does not need ‘campers’ refusing to become integrated.
Yet, a few of our Muslim immigrants have reportedly stated publicly their displeasure at Australia’s social mores. Why then stay? Other Muslim immigrants seek to have Australia’s long-established institution of law modified to offer sharia law. How so? Immigrants adapt to the nation they chose to enter; not vice versa! These Muslims are the first and only immigrant individuals who want their ethnic identity to predominate over all other identities.
What are they really saying to the rest of us, when almost all Muslim people are no different from other law-abiding Australians? They are already free to practice those aspects of their culture which are not incompatible with Australia’s institutions and social mores.
What else are they entitled to, and why?