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Badge - Return the Prayer Room, 2009 Object Reg. No: HT 24749

Summary:
Badge with the slogan 'Return the Prayer Room'. It was collected on 12 July 2009 during the Walk for Harmony event in Melbourne. The 2009 Walk for Harmony was led by Labour Premier John Brumby to reaffirm Victoria's support for multiculturalism. This initiative was developed in response to Indian student protests in Sydney and Melbourne at the end of May and beginning of June 2009. With 5,000 participants, the Walk for Harmony began at Carlton Gardens at 1pm, continued along Latrobe and Swanston streets in Melbourne's CBD, and culminated at Federation Square with a free half an hour concert.

This badge originated from another international student protest in the same year. On 23 March 2009 the RMIT Islamic Society protested when a 14-year-old on-campus Muslim prayer room was replaced with a new multi-faith prayer room after campus renovations. The RMIT Islamic Society and the Islamic Council of Victoria expressed a sense of betrayal towards RMIT regarding this issue after being promised a replacement Muslim-only prayer room.
Description:
Round green metal badge.
Statement Of Significance:
This badge has historical significance as a representation of early 21st century cultural politics in Victoria. It helps to highlight advocacy for social justice, equality and diversity in response to racial, ethnic and religious tensions in the state. The badge was given out during the 2009 Walk for Harmony in Melbourne, which officially promoted multiculturalism and acceptance of cultural diversity. The 2009 Walk for Harmony event has also been called a cynical public relations exercise used to play down international student protests in the same year. In particular, this badge represents a RMIT Islamic Society and the Islamic Council of Victoria protest in March 2009 against a Muslim prayer room being taken off campus during renovations and replaced with a multi-faith prayer room. This act was seen as a betrayal, subjecting individuals to sexual abuse, harassment and religious vilification. During 2009 both the state and Australian governments were accused of advocating multicultural activities to protect international student revenue (the country?s third largest revenue earner) over international students? safety, equality and rights.
Acquisition Information:
Collected from Karen Schamberger - Museum Victoria Collections, Research & Exhibitions, 2009
Discipline: History
Dimensions: 56 mm (Height), 56 mm (Width), 56 mm (Diameter)

More information

Tagged with: promotional materials, religions islam, protests
Themes this item is part of: Cultural Diversity Collection, Migration Collection
Primary Classification: RELIGIONS
Secondary Classification: Islam
Tertiary Classification: promotional materials
Inscriptions: Return the prayer room
Place & Date Used: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 12 Jul 2009

Location of 2009 Walk for Harmony
References: 22 March 2009. "Students at RMIT University in Melbourne protest over lack of Muslim prayer rooms". http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/breaking-news/students-want-special-prayer-rooms/story-e6freuz0-1225698279987. Accessed 18 October 2010.
24 March 2009. "Multifaith march for Muslim prayer room at RMIT". http://www.cathnews.com/article.aspx?aeid=12555. Accessed 18 October 2010.
1 November 2008 "The RMIT Muslim prayer room issue". http://austrolabe.com/2008/11/01/the-rmit-muslim-prayer-room-issue/. Accessed 18 October 2010.

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