Wednesday, October 24, 2007

"Australia Doesn't Owe Us Anything, We Owe Australia"

Legendary mobile phone entrepreneur John Ilhan died yesterday, at only 42. He allegedly suffered a heart attack during a fitness walk, close to his home. Ilhan came to Australia when he was three years old, immigrating from Turkey with his parents. In less than 16 years, he turned a small mobile phone shop into a nationwide chain, he gave generously to charity, and tried to forge a new path for Australian Muslims, with noticeable success.

Here's some highlights from an inspiring piece he wrote earlier this year to mark Australia Day:
Australia has given me everything.

I met an Australian girl from Hawthorn who became my wife and now we are a loving family of six following the recent proud birth of our son.

No matter what our background, we are Australians.

The loyalty first and foremost to Australia should also be remembered by some religious leaders, including some radical Muslim leaders in Australia, who pretend to speak for the faith, but instead promote intolerance and hatred.

These, thankfully, are in the minority, but they should respect Australian laws and not preach division and fear.

If they cannot respect Australian law then they should have their citizenship revoked or not be allowed back in the country if they are living overseas.

My Muslim faith qualifies me to strongly denounce any racist and inflammatory comments made by any Muslim leaders because they perpetuate a stereotype that is unhelpful and dangerous.

I am the proud son of Turkish parents.

Most people came to this country to build a better life. They should be thankful and grateful to be here. Therefore, immigrants must learn the Australian way of life, culture and learn the English language.

I would die for this country. I love Australia for what it stands for. It embraces opportunity, inclusion and, most important of all, mateship.

What Australia taught me is that if you give something - like the hand of friendship or provide a service that fulfils a need - you will be repaid many times.

They say that America is the "land of opportunity", but I say Australia is.

Australia doesn't owe us anything. We owe Australia.