Maha Akeel | firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday 22 May 2012
Last Update 23 May 2012 3:11 am
Muslims in Australia are diverse, well-integrated, and successful in different fields of work, reaching the highest echelons and gaining respect and appreciation of their fellow citizens. They have their mosques, colleges and a federation of Muslim councils. Now they will have their first museum.
On May 11, the Australian government formally announced a $1.5 million contribution for establishing the first Islamic Museum in Australia (IMA) in Melbourne. A launching ceremony was held at the ‘Boundless Plains: The Australian Muslim Connection’ book and film, which is the first project by the IMA, and renowned singer and composer Yusuf Islam became the official voice and content provider. IMA will sponsor his upcoming ‘Moonshadow: The Musical’ showing at the Princess Theater in Melbourne on May 31.
The groundbreaking ceremony of the IMA was held earlier in Feb. 17 at the site where it will be built. The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu was the guest of honor. The ceremony was attended by community and religious leaders and government representatives. Among the VIP guests were the Premiere of Victoria State the Hon. Ted Baillieu MP; and federal government ministers, the Hon. Simon Crean MP and the Hon. Martin Ferguson; and Special Envoy to the OIC Ahmed Fahour, who is the co-founder of the museum.
The ceremony was the culmination of a dream and months of work of the co-founder and director Moustafa Fahour and his team. It included guests from all forms of government, corporate, community and religious leaders across many different faiths.
“This demonstrates the role the Islamic Museum of Australia will play to further advance the social, cohesive and multicultural landscape of Australia,” said Fahour.
Of special significance was the announcement that a contribution of $7 million had been raised through fundraising, enabling the commencement of building works on the museum. This represents Stage 2 of the project — the construction of the museum — with funds raised through support from the Australian government, state government, Leighton Holdings and the OIC.
In his address as the guest of honor, OIC Secretary General Ihsanoglu said that the Islamic civilization has contributed to other civilizations; its art and culture is rich and diverse and it is founded on the principles of tolerance and peace. He added that the museum will enhance Australia’s understanding of Islam and help build bridges of communication.
The Premiere said the museum will be important for Australia as it reflects its cultural diversity, multiculturalism and is a beacon for cultural acceptance.
The museum is seen as a space to reflect, learn and assist in the cohesiveness of the multicultural community in the State of Victoria, particularly the city of Melbourne, which has a reputation for tolerance.
The ceremony included a short presentation of a documentary titled ‘Boundless Plains: The Australian Muslim Connection’, which documents Muslim history in Australia dating back to as early as the 16th century. A team of four led by Moustafa Fahour traveled around Australia to create the visual documentary and photography book, traveling across Australia, visiting important historical sites such as the earliest constructed mosques in Marree and Adelaide, South Australia and Broken Hill, New South Wales, as well as caves in Northern Australia containing ancient Aboriginal paintings documenting the Macassan influence in the area.
The museum will give visitors an insight into the Australian Muslims' history and contributions since the 1600s to the present day, display Islamic art and architecture with a focus on the work of Australian Muslims, explain basic Islamic beliefs and highlight the contribution of the Islamic civilization to knowledge over 14 centuries. The Islamic Museum of Australia will also collaborate with other museums in Australia and around the world to attract quality-visiting exhibitions.
The Museum is expected to open in two years.
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