Young’s civic leaders have hit back at an article in last Friday’s Daily Telegraph which described Young as “the unofficial Muslim capital of the outback” as contradictory, misleading and inaccurate.
The article said the town had undergone a radical transformation citing a population of 400 Muslims (omitting the 6000-strong population of the town) where Arabic is the second-most common language.
The Daily Telegraph also shared the story and views of one local Muslim convert Mohammad Carson, and his views on sharia law, plus the views of local police, town leaders and residents.
According to Mayor John Walker and council’s general manager Peter Vlatko, the story painted a very different picture of the town they know and what they see every day.
“First of all the journalist needs to understand where the outback is… then they’ve alleged we’re the capital,” Mr Vlatko said.
“What’s the story? They interview one person and paint the whole town based on that, something that’s not true.
“It’s so misleading and inaccurate it’s not worth the paper it’s written on.”
Mr Vlatko said Muslims had been living in Young for over 30 years, getting involved and working with the town by joining local sporting clubs and community groups.
“Just ask [these groups]… they work together and we’re very proud of that,” he said.
“Muslims have been part of our community for a long time and we haven’t had a problem with them whatsoever.
“We shouldn’t be classifying the town based on individuals… we’re bigger than that.”
He also questioned why the mayor – who was also interviewed by The Daily Telegraph when they were in town last week – and his quotes were not included in the article.
And questioned where the “nearby halal abattoirs” The Daily Telegraph claimed Muslims flocked to work in, were.
“Where are the facts?” Mr Vlatko said.
Mayor Walker said he spoke “favourably” about the Muslim community when he was interviewed by the Telegraph.
“Maybe that’s why they didn’t put it in.”
He said Young has always had a harmonious relationship with the Muslim community, naming the contribution they’ve made to the shire’s orchard industry.
“We’re proud of our multicultural heritage.
“We don’t hear of any conflicts, they just go about their daily business along with everyone else.”
Mr Walker also said he was aware of The Daily Telegraph’s reports of people speaking “highly” derogatorily of their Muslim neighbours but failed to give any references.
“My father-in-law and I both have Muslim neighbours and we have nothing but respect for them,” he said.
The article’s interviewee himself, Mohammad Carson, turned to The Witness’s Facebook page on Friday morning to also speak of the inaccuracies.
“When I get back to Young I can give the true story if they want to hear it. What the Telegraph had wrote was handpicked from hours of talk and have given a false story,” he wrote in a post.