Newport’s Amal Abou-Eid is the author of My Muslim Mate, a book promoting harmony. She speaks with Goya Dmytryshchak.
Tell me about My Muslim Mate ?
When my son was four years old, he was in kindergarten and I was doing a diploma in early childhood education … I read a little bit about the philosophies of belonging, becoming and being. It was about putting out a resource that would allow children like my son to feel that they belong and to feel that they were proud and confident with who they were and what they were learning at home.
You were photographed holding your book in an embrace with federal Labor leader Bill Shorten at the Newport mosque open day following the Christchurch shooting. How do you feel about the show of support from the community?
The community support has been overwhelming. We did expect a level of support, but the amount that turned up on the open day was unprecedented and unexpected. As horrific as the events were, what’s come of it that is really striking is the fact that hundreds and thousands of people around Victoria, people who’d never even probably heard of what a mosque is, turned up to one – took their shoes off and entered and felt comfortable in there and safe.
What do you like about Newport?
One of the main things that I like about Newport is the sense of community, the sense of togetherness. It’s been open and welcoming; I’ve been here nearly 10 years. I run a playgroup with the Arabic-speaking mums; I’m on a very prominent Facebook page in the inner west – and I’m very vocal on that … people have been very supportive of me and what I’ve been doing since day one. When my book was in its pre-sale stages, the support I was getting back then was the same as today and it’s been very, very good.
You’ve got local cafes, you’ve got parks, you’ve got schools, you’ve got maternal child health services and toy libraries – it’s pretty much got everything. It’s almost like a city feel but a tiny version and it feels closer.
What don’t you like?
The traffic is getting a little bit annoying, but that’s nothing I can change. That’s going to keep getting harder and harder.
Do you have a favourite cafe or restaurant?
I’ll give a shout out to Star Pizza on Mason Street.