My name is Raymond Mostafa I was born in Kuwait, Palestinian background I'm 26 and I came to Australia when I was 9 years old.
My experiences as a child shaped the way I am.
You kind of lose your innocence as a child to actually live in an environment where there is allot of wars, a lot of killings that are happening and you know people weren't safe to leave their houses.
Dudes were starving you could swear it was Ramadan
I remember back then it was hammer time
Use life, sell it just like lime
Truth hurts we still let it hurt our minds
Living on the edge touch it like mines
Harassed by the Feds, explore like bombs ... BAM
I might be Ray but I aint blind
My name is Alaa Arab I'm now 19 years old on the 15th of May I attended a rally that was initially organized by the ADL.
Just because you came here twenty years before me or I came ten years after you doesn't make use any different.
We're all immigrants here in Australia
I come from Iraq I came to Australia at the age of five years old, I was born in the tents but ah ..only in one of the many tents in the refugee camps in the desert of Saudi Arabia in the year of 1992.
I was born and raised there a long five years, my family and I lived in a very restricted area. Lived in houses made of clay bricks. Lived on very limited food and mainly made out of canned food
I basically was born in Kuwait, so most of my life umm basically from...til 9 nine I was in Kuwait. Then yeah I came to Australia. It was alright at the start like before the war before the war and we lived normally, like yeah you had racism here and there and you get that everywhere around the world, you know what I mean. But it was all right you know we lived all right, we lived fine, my dad was working, you know we had a good life.
All our families were there so it was good but it was after the war that things started to change a bit when politics got involved um
The Kuwaitis thought the Palestinians got involved in the war, the gulf war. There was allot of misunderstanding and then there was Palestinians felt unsafe to actually live in Kuwait.
We had to had to flee, my family had to flee Iraq because of the Gulf war that was happening at the time in between Iraq and Kuwait. Suddam Hussein had sent out militants to burn their house down. That's when they decided they had to flee the country and they were lucky enough to escape and to find, although it was not the best refugee camp in the world it was a refugee camp. And a place which kept them safe for a while a very long time, a lengthy time until we were finally granted refugee status I think into Australia.
We had three different options basically. My dad had an option to go to Sudan, Iraq or Australia. Now I knew about Sudan, I knew about Iraq but I never heard about Australia before in my whole life. He was like Australia, my mum is like Australia.
My mum like my mum and my Dad actually sat down and talked about it and said that the best option is actually to go to Australia. Because in Iraq, wars. Sudan, you never can know what will happen to Sudan. So get out of there start a fresh new page and see how it goes from there. So we came to Australia.
In around a year, we've been, we got accepted, and then declined and then accepted again. So it was really a long process that exhausted my parents bad. I remember my dad's face till this day. Nobody could talk to my dad, he was very angry, very depressed, very worried. You know my dad like from coming from what he was to what he became like it was it was really emotional seeing my dad going through those situations. Because um he wasn't thinking about himself he was thinking about the seven children that he has , and we had to, he was thinking these kids they need to raise a family so what's the best place. And after that after we got declined was like what's the best place, where the best place to go to you know from here.
They were basically thinking about how to maintain us in the one place. So so we don't' harmed, we don't get hurt 'cause it was really really really dangerous to step outside of the house. So we couldn't, couldn't , couldn't do much out there, so yeah so it took us around a year.
I remember the day we got accepted, my dad started dancing , he was like whoa and I was like yeah we're going, we're going, we're leaving. So yeah so it was good.
It's a bit of struggle some times because you know when I'm around 'non Arabs' or whatever I feel ... because Australia is so multicultural some times among you know 'anglos' or whatever I feel like the odd one out.
Of course I found it hard because I didn't know much about the language I didn't even know what they spoke I didn't know they spoke English. You know, I had to adapt to all of that. Acceptance was really different like you got kids you know at primary school saying weird things. They threw a couple of words about countries, and go back and all of that.
I'm thinking dude your Greek, or your Italian . You can't tell me to go back to my own country.
It ain't a fantasy, yo I wish it was a fantasy,
So I can be were my 'fam be.
Living safe and happily.
But tragedy separated us, hated us and being together thus fated us man yeah.
See you 'cous even if I don't see you we will resurrect to reunite we must trust the lord that we love kneel and look above.
We never cried we hugged.
Now it's been months years decades waiting for that one day.
I remember in primary school I was in class um the principle walked in um the teacher of my primary school class asked me to get up and I got up and I was like
what's going on here. I don't know how speak English people here what are you doing. She asked me a question that I couldn't answer. I don't know where it was a mathematical question whether it was an English question or it was a historical question. I don't know what it was 'til this day I don't know. And they started laughing, the kids started laughing at me. The teacher and the principal started laughing at me. They made me feel really angry, like why are they doing this.
What was going on in your mind?
I was really confused, I was like whoa what's going on I was looking around me and was like I could of imagined my face would have been like a tomato. I got really embarrassed and I was a kid that never told anybody about this, I kept it to myself and yeah but that was horrible I thought...to.... and for any, any kid to go through that not just me, any kid to go through that was horrible.
PROTEST RALLY, CHANTS AND CROWN ARGUING
Stop force feeding the Koran.
Stop force feed religious views on people who don't want it
Stop forcing me to eat religious food
Stop forcing me into the Islam religion
Stop force feeding me the Koran.
The ADL, the Australian Defense League um I hadn't heard of them before, I have heard of the English Defense League. I've seen little clips of them on YouTube um just the racist people who come together to protest against Muslims against people who are different, migrants and that sort of thing.
I didn't know what to expect, I knew there was going to be racist people however there were two sides to it. So the ADL the Australian Defense League were a bunch of...I guess there were 15 members or so. That were wild members they were swearing , they were shouting all this racist stuff, they were dressed in mock burkas some people um a very large guy in a t-shirt saying "F off we're full' and that sort of thing that really was pretty confronting.
Racism is everywhere like um it was sad that I had to learn about racism at that age um but yeah it's like there not one specific story that I can tell you that shocked me the most about racism.
Because in Kuwait there was allot of racism, so like...so I was used to it there.. Um so when I came to Australia it was like ahh here we go again you know but I had to hold my own. I had to keep going. Like that's how it is. That's life. Everywhere you go there is racism. You can't wipe racism. And there was no stories that shocked me the most about racism. Because I was used to it, yeah.
Yeah I have said I hate it
For that I might get investigated
Get my crib raided
Bad turn, it grew a lot of aggression; it was like a volcano when a volcano erupts.
It reaches a point where it doesn't hold anymore boom it's going to explode and um that it took a bad turn I'm going to be honest with you it made me more aggressive.
Any word, any slight word that I thought, it took me um it just brought back memories made me really angry and it got me really violent it actually made me really violent. Because I couldn't, I didn't know how to take it. And I didn't know, I didn't know what they were on about. So I didn't know what they, like the whole trip like I couldn't translate what they meant, it was so different everything made me aggressive. And as I said a really bad temper when I went to year seven that's when I got suspended I got in trouble allot I got into allot of fights with students that you know that shouldn't have got hurt from me I recon, honestly. Um but because of what I went through it just that's how I reacted to it.
To deal with I stayed on my own and played soccer. That's what I did. I um every time I finished from school I took a ball and went to the back yard or to the primary school and just played soccer. That's how I took , basically I grew a lot of passion at soccer.
I loved soccer from then on. Because it was the best way to release all the anger and forget about everything. It was like everything had to leave from my head when I play soccer
And that's how I kind of that's how I, basically left everything all the worries all the memories all the fights that I got in my head and all the stress got it out by playing soccer basically. Yeah
And do you still play soccer today?
Yes I do, yes I do
Very passionately ?
I love it
The counter rally took place at the same time, the counter rally made up of anti racist group, mostly socialist and other people who were there to obviously oppose the ADL rally and to say no to racism, anti racist groups outnumbered the ADL rally it was really beautiful to see that it was really comforting because it made me realize that we can overcome um, the issue of racism in Australia
What do you have to say for yourself?
Nothing I'm just happy that I'm here today
We're very happy
We're proud Australians Muslim, or black, or orange, or white whatever race you were still all, we are still one people, we still the same.
Yeah it is home for me now, it is because that's where I grew up, this is the country that actually accepted me. Yeah I always put myself in their position, like when I...a mother that had four of her children get killed I'm thinking that could happen to me cos I've got four brothers and they could have gotten killed you know what I mean, in a way you feel grateful that you are here and in a way are here feel anger because they are going through that.
I'm grateful for having a job, I'm grateful for my younger brother going to uni. I'm grateful for my mum feeling comfortable, not feeling worried every time I get outside of the house. You know I am grateful for having that freedom. To have that comfort. It was just , that's where we became free.
That's where, That's where we are going to start.