CAIRO - Seeking to shed light on the Muslim heritage in Australia, a Muslim group has applied for building a museum to exhibit contributions of the sizable minority to the country, The Sunday Canberra Times reported on January 15.
Muslims' contribution to developing Australia is part of the heritage of all Australians and not showcasing such an important part of a country's culture and beginning in an appropriate manner is to be redressed in a positive and enlightening manner, the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC) said in an application to the National Capital Authority (NCA).
We therefore ... formally [apply] for a suitable piece of land in an appropriate location in Canberra under the control of the [NCA].
Documents obtained by the newspaper under freedom of information revealed that AFIC applied to NCA in April 2011 for a plot to build the Museum of Islamic Art and History.
In the application to NCA, AFIC leader Ikebal Patel said the museum would be a valuable addition to the capital and would educate Australians about the Muslim heritage in Australia over the past two centuries.
The representation of Islamic art and culture and its contribution to science and to society is enormous and showcasing this remarkable achievement in Canberra will be magnificent, he wrote.
The AFIC leader proposed to build the museum in the Parliamentary Zone, which already houses the Center for Christianity and Culture.
Patel said the proposed museum would help strengthen Australia's relations with neighboring Muslim countries, mainly Indonesia and Malaysia.
He also said that the museum would also encourage a lager Islamic market for halal trade and tourism, adding value worth billions to the Australian economy.
Muslims, who have been in Australia for more than 200 years, make up 1.7 percent of its 20-million population.
Islam is the country's second largest religion after Christianity.
Despite applying the application, Australian Muslims are still waiting to get a response to build their Museum.
According to the obtained documents, the AFIC leader met with NCA boss Gary Rake and chief planner Andrew Smith in May to discuss the proposed project.
He, however, was told that his proposal for a Muslim museum should be made to the government.
Accordingly, they would need to start discussions with members of Parliament, the documents said.
We also advised that there may be options to display some of their curatorial material within existing cultural institutions and offered to facilitate introductions to the heads of those institutions.
Till today, the AFIC leader was still working with the government and other stakeholders on the proposed museum.
He hopes funding for the Islamic museum would be sourced from a mix of private and public donations.
If approved, the museum would be the second of its kind in Australia after the Islamic Museum of Australia in the Melbourne suburb of Thornbury.Construction on the Melbourne Victorian museum, approved last year, would begin next month.