In Adelaide today at the Al Salam festival, I joined Federal Member for Cowan Anne Aly MP as we both presented ‘Our Stories’. Each of us spoke of life and career paths, covering matters of racism, Indigenous land and diversity under threat. It was pleasure to share a platform with Anne and make plenty of noise before an amazing audience. 
Aside from many outstanding local speakers, MP’s and performers, the other colleagues I met included Melbourne vocal sensation Aseel Tayah and Queensland turned South Ausrelaian (!) esteemed academic Prof Mohammad Abdallah – an always eloquent and logical voice of reason. 

It was a particular delight though to reunite with my dear friend, Fatima Killeen from Canberra. We enjoyed robust conversations on the political and personal. Further, I am in complete awe of her artistic genius – which attracted quite the crowd. 

Finally, I met two young girls, Hira and Hera, who recently became the unwitting poster girls, (literally) from THAT Australia Day billboard incident. The tirade of vitriol that followed the initial billboard posting was the latest salute to xenophobia increasingly found in our community. 

These girls and their families were subject to horrific comments and death threats from right wing bigots, incapable of accepting anything less than white Australian representations in the public sphere. The failure of leadership to condemn these racists was equally appalling. However, it was the action of crowd funding from complete strangers, to reinstate the billboard, in an act of solidarity with these girls, that had the most significant impact on them. Before she broke down in tears, a nervous Hira told the audience, “I just want to say thank you to all the people who gave money to make the billboard go up again and for saying you don’t hate us”. 
I’m pretty sure everyone teared up. 
When others threaten children with death in the spirit of patriotism – they’ve failed as humans. This hatred is unacceptable. The conditions that encourage this hate are unacceptable. These kids matter. They deserve better. We all do. 
This incredible event was curated by the the Islamic Society of South Australia and was attend by a massive crowd of locals and the resident Muslim community to celebrate peace, diversity and belonging. Kudos to the organising team and their amazing volunteers! Such warmth, dedication and organisation resulting in a superb event. 
#endracism #endbigotry #endislamophobia #makeanoise #makeitloud #tasneemchopra #crossculturalconsultant

With Fatima and  H.E. The Governor of South Australia & his wife

Channel 7 interview on racism and identity