ORANGE’S cast-iron reputation as a city of tolerance and inclusiveness was further enhanced on Saturday by a group who have struggled for acceptance in other parts of the country.
Member of Orange’s Muslim community opened the doors to their Peisley Street mosque to the general public as part of National Mosque Open Day.
Many of the city’s non-Muslims took the chance to take a tour of the mosque, view a prayer sessions and engage in conversation with someone of a different faith.
It is estimated there are 60 Muslim families in the city, hailing from at least 15 different nations and ethnic backgrounds.
The fact that they feel comfortable enough in this community to share their house of worship speaks volumes about the warm reception they receive each day.
That’s not something members of their faith can always count on.
The past couple of years have been especially difficult for many Muslims in Australia, especially those living in regional areas.
Protests against the proposed construction of mosques have been particularly prevalent outside metropolitan centres, with vocal and often anger-fuelled public demonstrations.
The driving force behind several of theserallies has beenthe United Patriots Front (UPF), a nationalist group who rose to semi-prominence in 2015 as an offshoot of the Reclaim Australia Movement.
As of Sunday the United Patriots Front’s Facebook page had76,988 followers.
Judging by the reaction the group’s leaders received when they journeyed to Orange in February this year, not too many of them live withinthe 2800 postcode.
Despite a concerted effort by UPF figureheads to drum up support in the city, just 40 people turned up for the group’s Orange rally eight months ago.
It was an embarrassing turnout for the UPF, one which sent a sufficiently powerful message to their leaders and ensured they haven’t been seen in these parts again since.
The popularity of Saturday’s open day at the mosque merely underlines the message that Orange is a city of tolerance and compassion.
The comment in today’s story by Khalid Tufail best illuminates the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims in Orange: “I feel as though other people understand we are as normal as other members in the community.”
Long may that be the case.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.