"The time has come, well and truly come ... for all Australians, those who are indigenous and those who are not to come together, truly reconcile and together build a truly great nation."Kevin Rudd also spoke of removing "the stain from the soul of Australia". And for those not Australian - we have an indigenous community - riddled by hurt and prejudice for the treatment they received since Europeans settled in Australia, and more recently the breakdown of Aboriginal communities in the last century as their children were taken away from their parents onto reserves and adopted into white families as a way of "integrating" them into society. Known as "the stolen generation" - a formal commission was conducted under the Keating Government in the 1990s and the results were disturbing. With this knowledge - the succeeding government was expected to make some kind of formal apology for these acts... But our prime minister at the time had too much pride - refused to dirty his hands with the hurt of the past - he was more concerned about the individual claims that victims would make if he accepted any responsibility. But as Keating pointed out "Words are more important than money". I would hope that the government running my country would be a humble one; a socially aware one; a government unafraid to right past wrongs. It finally came (and not surprisingly with a new prime minister); a long awaited apology. I'm sorry too. And I'm sorry its taken so long. Hopefully true reconciliation, real tolerance and healing can begin.
The second issue I'd like to comment on is all the hub bub surrounding Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams - who recently presented an intellectual paper which discussed that the adoption of some aspects of Islamic Sharia law into Britain was unavoidable. Its not surprising that his opinions would create a fury in the media - after all the West loves another reason to focus on the Islamic community. But as a student of Arab, Islamic studies - and having studied Sharia Law and the Koranic teaching behind it - I have felt really annoyed at some of the opinions expressed. First and foremost, Rowan Williams was NOT advocating any kinds of criminal punishment under Sharia - he was referring to Marriage, divorce and inheritance laws. It becomes quite obvious when reading the context to which these laws grew and what they implicated - that they do not play into the West's stereotype of Islamic law as inflexible and grossly prejudiced to women. Like any society - law is interpreted and changed, manipulated to suit the needs of the people, or perverted to disadvantage different groups. I am not saying that I support any one system of religious law or the Islamic model for a society where church and state are totally bound. I am merely expressing disdain at a world where a man cannot have freedom of speech - and I expect figures in the church to express their views. I mightn't agree with them - but I think a fundamental part of Christian faith is reconciliation and acceptance of others and other views - and to be socially aware! It seems obvious to me, that their is difference and variation within all faith around the world - and Christianity is no exception. I believe that two faithful believers can still disagree. So to those persons belonging to the church asking for Rowan William's resignation; please consider the role of Jesus in the 21st century. Surely he would be concerned about our world; about the role of religion and law and about multifaith issues.