The Right Stuff #1: Sami Shah's Islamic Republic Of Australia
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Is the news getting you down? Old Rupert Murdoch and his mates got you feeling like the world’s going to tear itself apart at any moment? Fear not, for my new column, The Right Stuff, assures you of at least one thing: to kick that growing cynicism aside and join us on the highway to optimism – destination: Hope Town*. The Right Stuff is your weekly dose of the news you deserve; from the mouths of people you may not have heard before. I can’t guarantee it’ll always be sunshine, lollipops and rainbows, but life’s not like that either, is it?
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Issue #1: Sami Shah's The Islamic Republic Of Australia
Well, for the first instalment we should probably kick things off on the right foot, huh? Laughter is the best medicine, as they say, and it can be a really great coping mechanism in times of stress or trauma. Sami Shah, an ‘ex-Muslim’ from Pakistan who now spends his days in Australia, agrees with this idea. Shah uses laughter as a tool to examine Islam, often in live stand up comedy. Now he’s produced a series of podcasts, combining his humour with unique insight into what Islam looks like Australia, and who Australian Muslims really are in the 21st century – and what he discovers may surprise you.
The Islamic Republic of Australia is a five-part podcast series that is currently being broadcast on one of ABC’s many fantastic radio programs: EARSHOT. It’s available online (see below for links), or on your smart-thingy through your podcast app (look on the Earshot program page).
Shah tackles controversial issues like the Hijab and Islamic radicalisation in a way that is very accessible to every day Australians. Shah’s intelligent approach gives voice to people you wouldn’t expect – even sitting down for a chat with Rosalie Crestani, a senate candidate for the Rise Up Australia Party, who’s also involved in Reclaim Australia. Now before you huff and puff, Shah uses this approach very well – his discsussion with Crestani raises genuine issues that many Australians tend to have with Islam and Muslims. Once these questions have been raised, Shah seeks to explain them simply and thoughtfully, with a good chunk of humour thrown in the mix. It’s excellent listening – Shah is impressive – and you’d have to be a real buzzkill not to laugh at least once or twice.
In the wise words of Kev Carmody and Paul Kelly, “You only fear what you don’t understand”. I reckon Shah goes a long way – in only 150 minutes of radio – to provide a solid stepping stone to a deeper understanding of Islam generally, but more specifically in a country dominated by people of other faiths (or lack thereof). Give it a listen. And if you enjoyed it, show someone else! Maybe even swing Pauline an email – who knows, maybe she’ll love it!
Head to The Islamic Republic Of Australia home page to download all five episodes, and check out an example of what to expect below:
Follow Sami Shah: FACEBOOK