Mr CLARE (Blaxland—Minister for Education) (16:09): About 10 years ago, Yassr Elyatim set up a barbecue stand on Haldon Street, Lakemba, selling camel burgers. Someone had told him: ‘Listen, there’s a big problem in the Simpson Desert with camels, and they’re starting to muster them and use them as meat,’ and Yassr thought, ‘Well, that could work.’ And so began Ramadan Nights. If you haven’t seen it, then I recommend that you check it out. You have to see this to believe it. When the sun goes down during Ramadan, the main street of Lakemba turns into a mega outdoor food festival.
Lakemba isn’t in my electorate; it’s just outside it, in the electorate of my friend Tony Burke, the member for Watson. But it’s not just locals who turn up to this event. Last year, 1.2 million people from right across Sydney and right across the country turned up to the food festival. We’re talking about tens of thousands of people, every night, coming to have a feed of everything from camel burgers to knafeh. Ramadan has begun again this year, and so has this great festival. It’s on every night from now until 20 April. And I really mean it, Deputy Speaker Chesters: do yourself a favour and check it out.
Can I use this opportunity to wish all of my friends in the Muslim community a happy Ramadan. For Muslims here in Australia and all around the world, this is the most important month of the year. It’s a month of fasting and of feasts. It’s a month focused on faith. It’s also a month where a lot of people catch up with family and friends. Think about Christmas dinner and Christmas parties every night of the month. A big part of Ramadan is the breaking of the fast when the sun sets. That breaking of the fast is called iftar. I know that so many of us here in this place have had a chance to go to an iftar in our local communities, so we know how great these events are.
Racism and bigotry feed on ignorance. The more we know about each other, the stronger the bonds are that grow between us. So, this year, as I do every year, I encourage my Muslim friends to invite their Christian neighbours to come over for a feed, to invite their Buddhist workmates or their Jewish friends over to their place for iftar, to share a meal, have a feed, ask a question and learn more about each other, because that’s how we build great communities and how we make the best country in the world even better.