IMRAN GASHKORI | Sports Editor | CONTACT
Australian test player and Sydney Thunder opener Usman Khawaja’s 97 at the WACA today has landed him in good stead as the only remaining specialist batsman for Australia in Perth this summer, as well as immortalising him on the honourable list of “Muslims that don’t to be referred to as Muslims” – a true sign of his sporting prowess and on-camera charisma.
The Pakistani-born 29-year-old has positioned himself as Australia’s most in form player against South Africa, despite not having a sleeve tattoo.
In the change-rooms after his high-octane performance this afternoon, Khawaja (alongside his non-Muslim teammates) was informed by members of the Victorian Young Liberals that he had made the elite Okay List – an announcement that was met with a rowdy, alcohol-free celebration by the entire squad as well as the 12-test superstar’s close family and friends.
“It’s bloody good news,” says close friend and fellow Westie, David Warner.
“Usman has always been one of us – at both an international, state and T20 player – but it really is great to learn that his home country of Australia is willing to accept him as well. I guess he’s just that good,”
The Okay List, which is compiled on the 21st day of every December by members of Reclaim Australia in partnership with One Nation leader Pauline Hanson, former Prime Minister Tony Abbott and NewsCorp columnist Andrew Bolt – is said to have only taken on two new Muslim-Australians this year.
Usman Khawaja is listed at #33 and is joined by deputy mayor of Adelaide and vocal supporter of the Australian Liberal party, Houssam Abiad.
While many Australian cricket fans have been quick to vocalise that they do not “give a fuck” about the religious beliefs of any of the players, many conservative political commentators have insisted that the stamp of approval is necessary for Muslim-Australians to be able to carry on with their day-to-day lives.
The Reclaim Australia movement have insisted that Khawaja has proven himself as an Australian and should now be treated like any other cricketer.
“He’s earned it mate,” says a leading member of the Reclaim Australia movement, Sherman Burgess.
“It’s not often that someone is so good at sport that they make you forget about your crippling fear of the 1.6 billion people they share a religion with,”
“I guess that’s what sport is all about, particularly a sport that is dominated by Muslim countries. It brings everyone together, if they are good enough,”
Khawaja is now listed alongside several other high-profile Muslim-Australians with the “OKAY” stamp, including former rugby league international, Hazim El Masri and Sydney-based hospitality magnate, John Ibrahim.
Another interesting change to this year’s list was the removal of Indigenous-Muslim boxing star, Anthony Mundine. “The Man” was removed on the grounds of “lacking the ability to inspire”. In other words, he hasn’t won a boxing match in a while.
It is believed Australian journalist and Academic, Waleed Aly was once again looked over for the 6th year in-a-row, many speculate that this may be a result of Aly’s vocal support of the Richmond Tigers, a controversial militant group based in Southern Victoria.