Muslim students walk out during Australian national anthem

Published: October 27, 2015
Australian school criticised for allowing Muslim students to leave the assembly hall before the national anthem is sung PHOTO: THE AUSTRALIAN

Australian school criticised for allowing Muslim students to leave the assembly hall before the national anthem is sung PHOTO: THE AUSTRALIAN

An Australian school has been criticised for allowing Muslim students to leave the assembly hall before the national anthem is sung, out of respect for Muharram.

“I was furious when school officials invited students to leave during Advance Australia Fair,” Lorraine McCurdy, who has two grandchildren at Cranbourne Carlisle Primary School, said.

“Two children got up and said ‘welcome to our assembly’ with that a teacher came forward and said all those who feel it is against their culture may leave the room,” McCurdy said.

16 must-see Muharram photos from around the world

“With that, about 30 or 40 children got up and left the room. We sang the national anthem and they all came back in. I saw red, I’m Australian and I felt ‘you don’t walk out on my national anthem that’s showing respect to my country,” she added.

Independent Senator for Tasmania, Jacqui Lambie, also slammed the school which promotes the ethos of ‘Many Cultures, One Community.’

“I find that absolutely devastating, we should all be singing the Australian national anthem and we should be doing that with pride,” Senator Lambie said.

“That’s part of us. I find these schools that are allowing this to happen disgusting. I don’t think religion needs to be brought into the national anthem. We should all be proud to be Australians and proud to sing the national anthem,” she added.

Principal Cheryl Irving clarified that students were only allowed to walk out because of Muharram which is a month of mourning when children are able to opt out of singing or listening to the anthem.

“During the month of Muharram, Shias do not take part in joyous events, such as listening to music or singing, as it was a period of mourning. Muharram is a Shia cultural observation marking the death of Imam Hussain. This year it falls between Tuesday October 13 and Thursday November 12,” Principal Irving said.

Ashura procession: Mourners remember Imam Hussain’s martyrdom

“Prior to last week’s years 2-6 assembly, in respect of this religious observance, students were given the opportunity to leave the hall before music was played. The students then rejoined the assembly at the conclusion of the music,” the principal added.

The Australian Department of Education released a statement saying that they supported the school’s stance on this. “The Department supports our schools to be inclusive for all students, this includes understanding or respecting religious cultural observances.”

“From 2016, the new Victorian curriculum will include new subjects such as respectful relationships, world views and ethical understanding, helping to build more inclusive schools and communities,” the statement added.

Kuranda Seyit, secretary of the Islamic Council of Victoria, explained that these young students were not against the Australian national anthem. “I’m a Sunni Muslim myself but I understand Shia sensitivities and for them this is a very holy time. It’s a time when they are encouraged to reflect on the death of Imam Hussain and abstain from all forms of celebrations.”

“However for young children I think things like these should be assessed on their merits and a balance found. People need to remember that these Muslim children are not against the Australian national anthem but are not allowed to be deemed to be celebrating. Maybe there could be a bit more flexibility,” he added.

This article originally appeared on Herald Sun

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Reader Comments (80)

  • Naren
    Oct 27, 2015 - 11:31AM

    Not surprised with the behavior of the Muslim students. Country which has given a shelter to you is not supreme, but some thing other than that is supreme.
    If that was the case, you would have remained in your country of origin, instead of going to Australia.Recommend

  • Aman
    Oct 27, 2015 - 12:13PM

    Western countries take political correctness to ridiculous levels. One day this will cause their downfallRecommend

  • pakistani
    Oct 27, 2015 - 12:15PM

    another non-issue blown out of proportion. Recommend

  • amar
    Oct 27, 2015 - 12:17PM

    Do read article before commenting.Recommend

  • Ali
    Oct 27, 2015 - 12:37PM

    This is wrong. They have to respect the country’s values, where they have opted for to live. If they can’t then they shouldn’t have chosen it in the first place. Recommend

  • Ahmed
    Oct 27, 2015 - 12:38PM

    Kindly reread the article carefully, and putting your negative thoughts away the principalgave a reason “Principal Irving said”. What if your father or mother of anyone close to you has died and you are sad because of it, not in a mood, need some privacy, would you enjoy singing the anthem or you would like it to be optional to sing the joyfull Anthem along with others.

    You look like already negatively charged.Recommend

  • SHAH
    Oct 27, 2015 - 12:43PM

    Shia or no Shia, they are not singing disco songs but national anthem..; specially if they are Australian Citizens, they must honor the country they have pledged allegiance with .. even in Muharram, shias sing Marsias, so where is the problem ?? This is just biased attitude and trying to follow their teachings done by illiterate bearded mullahs..; who always project as superior beings not knowing that they are themselves illiterate. Not good.. and I think Aussies must make it mandatory for schools with their citizen students to participate in the national anthem. Non citizens may opt out if they feel so bad about it. Recommend

  • Raheel Khan
    Oct 27, 2015 - 12:50PM

    @Dear Naren:

    If the school authorities have no issues with it then you should mind your own business too.


    Raheel Khan Recommend

    Oct 27, 2015 - 1:15PM

    During the month of Muharram,we MUSLIMS do not take part in joyous events, such as listening to music or singing. Muharram is not only a Shia cultural observation marking the death of Imam Hussain.Recommend

  • Musafir
    Oct 27, 2015 - 2:12PM

    It is a general attitude of Muslims here in Australia who want to develop their own culture, this attitude has created challenges for Muslims to integrate themselves with larger society. If we have that much attachment with our culture/religion why we go to other countries. Recommend

  • Haider
    Oct 27, 2015 - 2:13PM

    Again the headline is misleading… Shoaib doesn’t Speak Up.. that’s what body text suggests.. Recommend

  • Wendy
    Oct 27, 2015 - 2:52PM

    The heading is misleading. “Walk out” sounds like something was done in a fit of emotion. “Allowed to leave” describes it better. If these kids are singing the ‘national anthem” .. or was it the national song? If the latter, have a look at verse 2. Why are comments assuming the kids came from elsewhere. Many would have been born here. As a kid, I wasn’t allowed to wear a green ribbon to a public school on St. Patrick’s Day. I still feel the hurt, 60 years later. I think we build loyalty by showing we can focus on what’s important. The kids, by October, know the “anthem” back the front and inside out. Now it’s our turn to show that in their circumstances we can bend their way. That’s how you build loyalty, by making people feel they are accepted, not by making them try to be all exactly the same. Recommend

  • Gurion
    Oct 27, 2015 - 3:15PM

    Singing the National anthem is a duty of citizens, not a luxury. That’s why it’s sung both in war and peace. But then, the “ummah” is special, right?Recommend

  • ajeet
    Oct 27, 2015 - 3:20PM

    I’m sure they wouldn’t have any problem in getting dole or government aid during the mourning period. Why can’t they give up that too?Recommend

  • Javed
    Oct 27, 2015 - 3:22PM

    They should remain absent in that case . Walking out will increase isolationRecommend

  • Palvasha von Hassell
    Oct 27, 2015 - 3:59PM

    I think perhaps the school authorities should have informed parents etc. of the reasons behind the move to avoid misunderstandings. Of course, just allowing the Shia students not to sing along might have been enough, too. I would as a parent not have felt offended at all or taken it personally. Recommend

  • genesis
    Oct 27, 2015 - 4:02PM

    No doubt such actions make them the most lovable,desirable community in many countries of the world.They are welcomed with great affection.Recommend

  • ivehadit
    Oct 27, 2015 - 4:31PM

    What’s wrong with that? People being jingoistic and finding excuses to blame these poor kids. How can you joyously celebrate anything while in mourning? Surprised this is newsworthy.Recommend

  • Irtiza
    Oct 27, 2015 - 4:32PM

    I am a Shia myself and I don’t think by singing the anthem of the country you live in would be wrong. We have this habit of creating issues everywhere.Recommend

  • Raghu
    Oct 27, 2015 - 4:37PM

    Its always better to be silent than to spill something illogical out of your mouth. Country did not provide shelter. They offered immigration, jobs. It was a mutual agreement. Recommend

  • J. Adam
    Oct 27, 2015 - 4:40PM

    LOL why does this bother YOU so much? Mind your own business and keep signing and dancing – the only thing Hindus are good at :)Recommend

  • whatever
    Oct 27, 2015 - 4:50PM

    better teacher had asked “all those who feel it is against their culture may leave the country” and watched.Recommend

  • Babloo
    Oct 27, 2015 - 4:53PM

    Despicable muslim behavior.Recommend

  • Hella
    Oct 27, 2015 - 5:25PM

    Not just the assembly hall, the students should have left the country.Recommend

  • Asif Ali Khan
    Oct 27, 2015 - 5:32PM

    Australian Muslim school children did a wrong act.It is condemnable,wrong & criminal. parents should educate their children to avoid such act in future.Muslims lives around the world,they should respect the laws of land where they are settled & got the nationality of that country.Recommend

  • Shaiban
    Oct 27, 2015 - 5:38PM

    I think we Muslims tend to take our religion to a level where it becomes difficult to observe. Firstly, it was only a national anthem so there was no harm in singing it with fellow Australians. Secondly, Islam asks us to mourn for three days and then get on with our lives. Muharram should be respected while still fulfilling our responsibilities and duties.Recommend

  • Marwatti
    Oct 27, 2015 - 6:02PM

    Its not muslim behaviour. It is shia behaviour. And there is a world apart difference between both.Recommend

  • LS
    Oct 27, 2015 - 6:04PM

    So bad mood prevents you from singing national anthem? Wow.. Do you not sing national anthem in your own country even if someone dies? Do Christians not sing National Anthem on Good Friday? Do Indians not sing National Anthem on the day Gandhi was killed? What kind of moronic attitude is this even if the principal asked for it the kids should have stayed. That shows that they are NOT PATRIOTS. They are Muslims first, NOT Patriots, but you would be the first one to criticize if their army fired all Muslims for NOT being patriots and Muslims firstRecommend

  • Jag Nathan
    Oct 27, 2015 - 6:16PM

    What else is else is new? Can’t stand in for Australian National Anthem, can’t sing Vande Mataram, cant salute the British Flag (no issues saluting the Parcham-e-Jalali at the same moment), can’t wish Merry Christmas or Happy Diwali, and so on. But, then everyone should respect Muslim sentiments. Western democracies will learn the hard way that they have let a Trojan Horse land on their shores. At least we Indians have learned it the hard way.Recommend

  • Asia Ali Khan
    Oct 27, 2015 - 6:38PM

    ti believe these children were definitely told by their parents to do so.I believe the school children were innocent but their parent were not,I recommend their nationality should be cancelled so that they don’t create any problems for their children & overall to Muslim community in Australia & other countries.Recommend

  • Liberal
    Oct 27, 2015 - 7:02PM

    And then we complain of “Islamophobia”.Recommend

  • Farhan Khan
    Oct 27, 2015 - 7:09PM

    @Naren: reality check:The country which gave them shelter wasn’t even there 500 years ago but the religion which they follow has been there from the beginning of mankind Recommend

  • TooTrue
    Oct 27, 2015 - 7:22PM

    Why do you live in Australia if you can’t assimilate? Go back to wherever you came from. Recommend

  • Appan
    Oct 27, 2015 - 7:23PM

    It is sad. The school has erred. Whys should they imbibe such wrong belief. That too at student level. t is highly deplorable.They should have put nation before religion. Till people learn to keep the Religion at home only such events will continue. Keep the ure. illeterate/mullas out from the [ictRecommend

  • someone
    Oct 27, 2015 - 7:34PM

    IN that case, stay home. Don’t come to school if you are in such a mood of depression. On the other hand, do you guys stop watching TV, entertainment shows, movies etc.?Recommend

  • someone
    Oct 27, 2015 - 7:39PM

    @Farhan Khan:
    Reality check, religion is not more than few thousand year old. Oldest being Vedic religion in India though some of the religion claim themselves to be existing since the man kind which is nothing much misinformation. Recommend

  • Oats
    Oct 27, 2015 - 7:49PM

    @someone: That’s the best advice I’ve heard. If the children and families are so depressed and so religious, they should all stay at home and mourn. They should be ashamed of themselves for wanting to go outside at all if they are in mourning. I find it odd that people want to live in Australia when they think like this. Just move to where your beliefs will be understood and accepted.Recommend

  • Imtiyaz
    Oct 27, 2015 - 8:01PM

    Naren can you also tell these Hindus that have been given shelter to, stop trying to get there Hindu customs like throwing ashes in the sea, cooking there pickles, not wanting cows slaughtered for meat, booing the national team when they are playing india etc if they cannot do that they should return to “incredible india”Recommend

  • Indo
    Oct 27, 2015 - 8:13PM

    When in Rome do as the Romans do is the saying. If I were an Australian, I would be miffed as well.Recommend

  • Khalid
    Oct 27, 2015 - 8:45PM

    Your ‘duty of ciizens’ comment reminds me of citizen Kane. While a civilization requires certain duties and obligations towards others it does not entail forced singing of anthems and such which should be strictly voluntary activities. The nation state concept is a late development anyway and its blind promotion leads to aggression and alienation among the citizens of the planet. I think Australia has the right attitude where it allows freedom in this respect. Forced adherence to rituals of any kind should always be viewed with great suspicion by all civilized people. Recommend

  • Lion King
    Oct 27, 2015 - 8:52PM

    Australia is Aborigines’ country actually whose children these

    white “Australians” stole. Recommend

  • Ni
    Oct 27, 2015 - 8:57PM

    @ Imtiyaz

    currently we are discussing on Religion vs Nationlisam. Nation should be first and then religion ( Any type ) in your previous comment does it make any since in any point of you? Hindus will always give their preference to nation first and then religion. At least when you go to any country for bread and butter you should be thankful that country that they given shelter to you and you should be given respect to their flag ceromany, national anthem etc. not remain as backword and show your backwordness to the whole world. And that is the most important why Pakistan is still behind in this world.Recommend

  • Irshad Khan
    Oct 27, 2015 - 9:01PM

    If Shias do not hear National Anthem of Pakistan during Moharram?Recommend

  • Salima H
    Oct 27, 2015 - 9:11PM

    “It is a general attitude of Muslims here in Australia who want to develop their own culture, this attitude has created challenges for Muslims to integrate themselves with larger society. If we have that much attachment with our culture/religion why we go to other countries. ”

    Says another liberal who wants full religious freedom for non-Muslims in Muslim countries even when their religious freedom necessarily entails “developing their own culture” completely diametrically to the host nation’s.

    This even wasn’t someone “developing their culture” it was a period of mourning for a tragic mass-murder that is a seminal event at the very core of the Shia faith. It is simply wrong to ask those students to disregard that for a national anthem they can sing at any time anyway, not once a year.Recommend

  • J Aslam Kh
    Oct 27, 2015 - 9:13PM

    Dear all of you who are posting howling denunciations of the students,

    If the school itself and the Australian Department of Education have no problem with those students abstaining from singing the national anthem while they’re in mourning, then all of you should mind your own business too.Recommend

  • True
    Oct 27, 2015 - 9:16PM

    And what does Muslim immigrants take it too. Why to dream their lands when you don’t want to assimilate their culture. Remain in your lands. They give you equal rights, freedom to speak, benefits that your own countries deny then out of self respect remain where you are.Recommend

  • Paul
    Oct 27, 2015 - 9:18PM

    . Muharram is a ‘NOT’ a Shia cultural observation. It is a MUSLIM observation marking the death of Imam Hussain. Recommend

  • Khan
    Oct 27, 2015 - 9:26PM

    If the authorities allow it and respect their religion, then u have no right to decide what they should be allowed to do or not or weather the authorities should allow them to leave the assemblies during anthem or not. Recommend

  • True
    Oct 27, 2015 - 9:31PM

    Booing for a favorite team rather than their home team in unpatriotic…. WOW. I myself live overseas but cheer for a team that are my favorites & not India so does that make me more patriotic. Grow over it man. Beef ban etc etc is in their country & they have right to do that just as you have blasphemy laws etc etc. So cool it. They make sure that when it comes to occasions like these they are true to their adopted lands which is true as you have never heard anyone launching terror attacks in adopted lands. Recommend

  • nomi
    Oct 27, 2015 - 9:53PM

    Many muslims have convinced themselves that western values are not compatible with islam and the right wing in western countries has picked up this point. Recommend

  • bigsaf
    Oct 27, 2015 - 10:32PM

    While there is a difference between Sunnis, Shias are Muslim. Way to inject your religious ideological prejudice and sectarianism.Recommend

  • Hameed
    Oct 27, 2015 - 11:58PM

    They should be deported to Iran. Problem solved.Recommend

  • Vishwas
    Oct 28, 2015 - 12:10AM

    Every student irrespective of their nationality and culture must respect the country they are living in. Walking out during the national anthem will not make them “inclusive”. It is doing exactly the opposite by alienating them. Don’t you see it?Recommend

  • Skywalker
    Oct 28, 2015 - 12:47AM

    Questions for fellow supporters
    – During Muharram, does Pakistan Radio and TV completely stop showing any comedy shows?
    – Does the radio NOT play the Pakistan National Anthem at midnight?

    If call of faith mourning, is more important than nation, why migrate to Secular/Plural societies, stay in the ghettos of OIC.Recommend

  • Skywalker
    Oct 28, 2015 - 12:50AM

    Stick to the topic. We are talking about Muslims in Australia, and not India. Recommend

  • Skywalker
    Oct 28, 2015 - 12:55AM

    @J Aslam Kh:
    It is a not a problem yet with the dept, but it will brew into being called un-patriotic by rest of the nation. It is better to accept now then deal it later with a tantrum.Recommend

  • Sun Tzu
    Oct 28, 2015 - 1:52AM

    They were not singing Bollywood ‘item numbers’! They were singing the National Anthem (a prayer to the Mother/Father land really) of the country that have given them food, clothing and shelter!! The least they could have done is stand in attention and kept silent.Recommend

  • Lab
    Oct 28, 2015 - 1:58AM

    What a ignorant way of thinking. Maybe you should force Christian kids to go to school on Christmas because, you know, who cares. And who says that these kids are not from Australia? xD Ignorant ignorant ignorant (i’m being way too polite)Recommend

  • Lab
    Oct 28, 2015 - 2:04AM

    Not Shia, but Sunni Muslim myself, BUT YES. When in mourning, NO TV NO MUSIC NO PARTIES not anything. As normal person who is sad would do. Recommend

  • Oct 28, 2015 - 5:21AM

    Do Shia Muslim sing national Anthem of Pakistan during Muharram or Not? Is singing national anthem is only joy and celebration.? is eating when hungry is joyful or not . ? Saving one’s life will fill you with joy . ( hope all will agree) . So should Shia Muslim will not do saving one’s life during Muharram? Singing national anthem and singing in a party can not be equated. School authorities wanted to display more sensitivity to the feelings of Shia Muslims probably to imbibe the similar sensitivity in them for other s. Students should not have left the assembly even if so permitted. their stay in the Assembly would have displayed sensitivity to be with others that we are with you despite our sad feelings. Recommend

  • Zaida Parvez
    Oct 28, 2015 - 5:53AM

    Terrible behaviour. No wonder Muslims are disliked where ever they go. If they cannot show loyalty to their country, they don’t deserve to be there.Recommend

  • Travis
    Oct 28, 2015 - 7:10AM

    Imagine Europe in 10 years’ time when these so-called refugees get comfortable ! Recommend

  • CB
    Oct 28, 2015 - 8:44AM

    @Ahmed If your mother or father had died??? do you think the world has to stop for that? with due respect, your personal practices and beliefs shall be practised in your home and not outside. It is a school where kids go damn it!Recommend

  • PR
    Oct 28, 2015 - 9:15AM

    people who are saying that students should be allowed since singing national anthem is a joyous feeling then perhaps these students should also not allowed to pray since I think praying to god also give joy… what say muslims?Recommend

  • Oct 28, 2015 - 9:34AM

    Shocking, shocking and even more shocking! These students chose Australia to study and settle, hence, they MUST respect the national laws and customs. Suddenly these people become religious when they go abroad and make a fool of themselves and a mockery of religion. We respect Muharram but this does not mean one disrespects the country’s national anthem. Send the back to Pakistan. And hold the school principal responsible for the permission. SaladsRecommend

  • fahad
    Oct 28, 2015 - 10:05AM

    I just want to share something which is the actual truth which is no longer mentioned or followed. Muslims are allowed to grief and sob for three days after the persons death. No matter who ever it is. This is what Islam says no me. I know there will be critisicm and rejection by many but that is the truth with proof.Recommend

  • hammurabi
    Oct 28, 2015 - 10:07AM

    I think the western countries are to be blamed for giving citizenship to those who want to persue their own culture.Hats off to middle eastern countries who treat them like dirt and
    give them no citizenship.Recommend

  • Human
    Oct 28, 2015 - 10:47AM

    so true . if they cannot respect those who gave them shelter .

    Don’t like it there come back to YOUR own country . Give others a chance who deserve it Recommend

  • kk
    Oct 28, 2015 - 11:21AM

    Signs of things to come.Recommend

  • Nimar
    Oct 28, 2015 - 11:24AM

    Just a Misleading headline !
    Aussie government and Ministry of Education has once agian demonstarted being multi-cultural in true sense by promoting culture of tolerance, broadmindedness and respect as some of their core values. We appreciate Australian values of mutual respect !Recommend

  • Oct 28, 2015 - 12:00PM

    There was nothing wrong for allowing Muslim students leave during singing national anthem as the the students were mourning for Muharram like catholic students do during Easter mourning for the death of Jesus. Neither Jewish students would be forced to do anything that is against their religion. Senator Jacqui Lambie is a racist and member of Reclaim Australi group against Halal foods and Islam. She is a Jew lover supporter of Israel and Muslim hater.
    Jehovas Witness do not allow their children to take part in national Anthem and prayer services with other christians at all JW Seventh Day Adventist do not even recognise Christmas etc so why is the fuss about muslim Students not taking part in singing during mourning period. Lorraine McCurdy is being stupid she does not understand a thing .I wonder if She would go and dance in the night club while her mother’s corpse lying in her flat awaiting funeral.Recommend

  • naveed rasheed
    Oct 28, 2015 - 1:42PM

    I honestly think this should be encouraged rather criticised, this promtes equality . but thumbs up for Australian educational system as it recognise this needs to be corrected in schools Recommend

  • hammurabi
    Oct 28, 2015 - 3:07PM

    I wonder why western countries are giving citizenship to Pakistanis.They dont deserve it.Recommend

  • Oct 28, 2015 - 3:19PM

    assalam alikum
    well what so big news about that if they allowed muslims to walk away before the national
    anthem starts may be their national anthem wrote in way the teaches or preaches christianity
    etc. so they dont want muslims to attend it.Recommend

  • Ravi
    Oct 28, 2015 - 4:41PM

    @Farhan Khan: the year 600AD is not beginning of mankind. Even in Pakistan they must be teaching you better history. Recommend

  • Skywalker
    Oct 28, 2015 - 8:03PM

    @Mohammad Khan Sydney Australia:
    “….like catholic students do during Easter mourning for the death of Jesus. Neither Jewish students would be forced to do anything that is against their religion.”

    Do you have evidence to support what you are saying?Recommend

  • Skywalker
    Oct 28, 2015 - 8:07PM

    @Mohammad Khan Sydney Australia:
    “.I wonder if She would go and dance in the night club while her mother’s corpse lying in her flat awaiting funeral.” Sir – Don’t make straw man arguments.

    Is Hussein the direct parent of these kids?Recommend

  • Khalid
    Oct 28, 2015 - 9:26PM

    Australia should entertain the cultural request based on evidence not just hearsay. Do Shia muslims abstain from singing national anthem in Iran (as Iran is Shia majority country).

    Hope it will help understand the real issue.


  • Rich Davison
    Oct 29, 2015 - 7:18AM

    Not only was it Australia, but it was also not a statement against their national anthem. It was during a period of a religious observance where music is not allowed. The article states they have not had a problem with the anthem during other times. They were invited to leave prior to the playing because the school was aware of the observance. This is nothing but an attempt at sensationalism on the part of this article. Anyone who actually read it would see what happened.Recommend

  • Izhar Hunzai
    Oct 29, 2015 - 4:38PM

    If you know Islam then you know that music and activities like movies is not encouraged.Recommend

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