ambo, ambulance, Asim Siddiqui, australian, australian muslim, australian muslim youth, community, Country Fire Authority, firemen, medic, medico, Melbourne, muslim, muslim ambulance, muslim australian, Muslim Australians, muslim firemen, muslim paramedic, Ned Kelly, News Corp Australia, paramedic
Have faith, Muslims will be there if you need them
- From: The Australian
- July 14, 2015
“If you save a life it is as if you’ve saved all of humanity,” says Asim Siddiqui, paraphrasing a favourite verse from the Koran.
The Melbourne engineer has been volunteering with the Country Fire Authority for almost two years. He helped with efforts to quell fires that burned through Mickleham and Kilmore in February. Five times each day he would take off his fire jacket, put it on the ground and pray after firefighters moved to a new area to attack the blaze.
His brigade was supportive but Asim said the “unfortunate reality” was that most of the nation was unaware of the altruism of Muslim Australians. “During the Black Saturday bushfires we had Muslim organisations helping out the community to provide donations but those stories don’t gain attention,” he said.
The 31-year-old volunteered to “break down those barriers”.
“People have perceptions but when they get to see people in the flesh they realise you’re not a terrorist waving his fist furiously,” he said.
Tony Abbott’s “us and them” mentality was “macho” and unproductive in fostering inclusion, he said. “We are all Australians and it doesn’t do much in generating harmony and preventing radicalisation,” he said. The proclamation of “Australian” and “un-Australian” values was confusing for migrant communities. “Ned Kelly was an outlaw but people celebrate him,” he said.
His cousin Waseem, 32, is also an emergency services worker. He loves working as a paramedic in Melbourne’s north, but it can be challenging. “If you’ve been in the emergency services for the length of time … (you’ve) basically been at every pub,” he said.
Although the drunken altercations were a nuisance and the injuries left Waseem feeling defeated, it was the moments of hope that made the job worthwhile, he said.
Like helping to deliver a baby at 3am in the poorly lit corner of a Bundoora carpark as the rain pelted down, or watching a woman hit by a motorcycle make an astonishing recovery.
“I went to visit her a few weeks after and we didn’t expect a very good outcome, but seeing her improve was really good,” he said. “Ninety-eight per cent of patients and relatives are appreciative of what we do and every so often you get a ‘thank you’ letter.”
Waseem’s superiors are accommodating of his need to pray throughout the day and “always ask” if a room can be provided. Many of his patients shared his faith and were pleased to see their community represented in the emergency services, he said.
“I am constantly going into Muslim homes and they ask if I can speak Arabic,” he said.
He hopes there will be a new generation of Islamic paramedics. “It’s not for everyone but I’d like to see the next generation coming through.”