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Islamic museum wants home in zone

By Michael Inman & Scott Hannaford |Canberratimes| 15 Jan 2012

An Islamic group has sought land in the capital to build a Museum of Islamic Art and History.

The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils last April requested a plot from the National Capital Authority to found an institution showcasing Islam's contributions to building the nation.

Documents obtained by the Sunday Canberra Times through freedom of information show the representative body hopes to exhibit Islamic art, culture and history at the proposed museum.

In correspondence with the National Capital Authority, Muslims Australia president Ikebal Patel said the proposed institution would be a valuable addition to the capital's landscape, educating the nation on the legacy of Islam here, an association that started before white settlement. The letter said Muslim Australians represented about 1 per cent of the population, drawn from dozens of distinct ethnic groups.

Mr Patel said the dedication of a museum would help strengthen ties with Islamic countries, including two of our closest neighbours, Malaysia and Indonesia, as well as the Muslim market - worth billions to the Australian economy each year through education, the halal meat trade and tourism.

The Parliamentary Zone already houses the Centre for Christianity and Culture and Mr Patel said the proposed museum would become a valuable resource in promoting inter-faith cooperation in Australia.

''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 application said.

''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.

''We therefore ... formally [apply] for a suitable piece of land in an appropriate location in Canberra under the control of the [NCA].''



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