۱۲ مهر ۱۴۰۱ |۸ ربیع‌الاول ۱۴۴۴ | Oct 4, 2022
Scott Morrison

Some appreciated his visit to the event in Parramatta marking the end of Ramadan, while others say the PM ‘doesn’t care about us’.

Hawzah News Agency – Kahoder Sabra grins as he looks out at the media throng surrounding prime minister Scott Morrison at Eid prayers in Parramatta park on Monday morning.

Morrison is attending the Eid prayer, and Sabra thinks recognition of the Muslim community’s electoral influence has been long overdue.

“I think it’s magnificent,” he says. “The Muslim vote does count.”

“Whether we like it or not, he’s our prime minister. And he’s coming to have a chat with the people. So it means a lot to us; it means we are part of the community now.”

Eid ul-Fitr marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, and it’s the first time in recent history that it has coincided with an election campaign.

Previous Eids have been attended by premiers, or state or local MPs, but Morrison is the first sitting prime minister to ever attend an Eid prayer.

Morrison chose the Eid prayers held in Parramatta, one of the most marginal and diverse seats in the country. He wasn’t the only one – former Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd was also there, as were candidates Andrew Charlton (Labor) and Maria Kovacic (Liberal), as well as the immigration minister, Alex Hawke.

In his speech to the congregation, the prime minister compared the end of Ramadan, where Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, to Australia’s “emergence” from the pandemic.

“Breaking this fast is, I suppose, a little like what the country is now going through after two years of incredibly difficult times, as we’ve come through the pandemic.

“Australia is like a rope with many different strands that weave together to make it incredibly strong. And I’m here with one of those important strands here today.”

While many in attendance agree that Morrison’s presence is an attempt to win their votes, some welcome his recognition of the importance of their community.

The 2016 census showed Islam was the second largest religion in Australia, with 2.6% of Australians identifying as Muslim, and the number expected to exponentially grow in the latest census.

It makes the diverse community a powerful source of votes, and in Parramatta, held by Labor on a margin of 3.5%, they can make or break any campaign.

“There are a lot of Muslim voters in Parramatta who usually go with the Liberals,” Sabra says. “But some might flip this year.”

But while Morrison attracted a throng of worshippers, not everyone is enamoured by his presence.

“He’s only here for the elections,” scoffs Mostafa, who does not want to use his surname.

“All the dogs are here for their bones. It’s typical politics, that’s all it is. He doesn’t care about us, look at how western Sydney was treated during the pandemic.”

“In all honesty, I’m not convinced by either party this year, I’m just going to go in and get my name ticked off. They are all the same.”

Nashmiya Hammad says she is also not impressed with Morrison’s appearance, adding that she wants to see more substantial policy discussions.

“I think it’s really annoying that he’s here. I don’t want to see him on Eid. I don’t want to be praying with him at the front.”

“I don’t feel like he’s handling things very well, especially on things like climate change, where he should be doing more before it’s too late.”

A sense of disengagement and disappointment in both Labor and the Liberals hung over the gathering, with many expressing dismay at their respective campaigns.

Dr Ahmed Al-Omary says he feels the election campaign has been “overwhelming” so far, with little done to engage immigrant communities.

“I arrived around eight years ago, and I just feel like more needs to be done to engage people like me.

“I feel like we don’t know what they stand for. I think we need better education on their policies.”

Rabi Tukhi says he doesn’t feel represented by either party. At 18, he will be voting for the first time; he says he feels Morrison’s presence is just a “political game”.

“It’s all just politics. It was a nice and generous act to come today, but if I’m going to be honest, it’s all about the political games. He was here for the social media posts, really.

“Both parties, at the end of the day, just want power.”

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