I am not a policy mistake!!

On this day the 24th of November 2016, it is exactly 40 years to the day I arrived in Australia.

I was a very young boy, who had been very reluctant to leave our village in Lebanon; I clutched my grandmother’s skirt, begging my parents to stay in the place I loved so much.

40 years on, I live in the place I love so much, Melbourne Australia. I am a well-travelled man, and there is no better place to live; Melbourne my lovely home.

I strongly identify as an Australian, whilst proud of my Lebanese heritage. Even now and then; I am reminded that there are some fellow Australians who will never accept me as one of them, rather choosing to identify me through my ethnic origin, stirring the pot and sending a message to my fellow Australians that my presence here was a mistake in previous government policy.

The latest such person to make such a vilifying claim is none other than our immigration Minister Peter Dutton. Reflecting on the foreign policy of the Fraser government, he suggested that in hindsight it was a mistake for the government to have allowed in Lebanese fleeing the war in the 1970s.

Mr Dutton if you please, I am just as Australian as you are and what you are suggesting is nothing more than racial vilification masked with statistics that could easily be used as the basis of silly propositions. How silly is the proposition that at the time of Martin Bryant’s ancestor’s migration to Australia; had the authorities not allowed people of his ethnicity to enter, then perhaps the 35 people he killed would have survived. This is a truly ridiculous and offensive proposition, in much the same way as Dutton’s.

Dear Immigration Minister. I am one of those Lebanese Immigrants that was allowed into Australia in the 1970s. You singled out Sunni Moslems and I am not a Moslem, but as a Christian Lebanese I am equally the target of your xenophobia.

Dear Prime Minister Turnbull. I am sure that you find Dutton’s comments to be appalling, yet you choose to defend him for political reasons. This does not make you the man of principles many of us thought you were. Do you truly believe that is in in your governments’ interest to move the rhetoric to the right in the light of Trumps victory in the USA? Prime Minister we are not the United States and your focus should be based on your principles rather than pandering to the bigots.

Finally I would like to say that I own and run businesses that employ 30 Australians, contribute to the community through volunteering and pay annual taxes that are probably higher than your public service salary.
I have many friends and acquaintances that came in the 1970s and have contributed enormously to Australia at many levels.

I am Australian and very proudly so. Criminality is not an ethnic problem that was introduced to Australia. Extremism is a scourge on all peoples and the main group of people that have been victims of this extremism are Moslems.

Mr Dutton stop vilifying me!
Robert Bekhazi
Federal President
United Australian Lebanese Movement

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