Meet Australia’s first openly Muslim bartender

Immigrating from Iran at the age of 10, former "boat person" Mahmood Al-Edwij says he wanted to feel just like his mates.

Meet Australia’s first openly Muslim bartender

23 November, 2015. 9:26

ERROL PARKER | Editor-at-large | Contact

WHEN ONE OF HIS mates joked that he should get behind a bar, they would have never imagined that 21-year-old Mahmood Al-Edwij would do just that. While he was raised a Muslim in Sydney’s western suburbs, the naturalised Australian citizen said he’s having the time of his young working in the city’s red light Kings Cross district.

“Nobody’s had a go at me yet for being a Muslim,” he said. “Maybe it’s because I’m the one serving them the beer.”

But what’s alarmed the charming, happy-go-lucky Sunni is the rate at which Australia’s ruling Christian majority is letting a few quiet drinks down at their local “strippos” turn into a physical confrontation – with often lethal results.

While it’s not technically against Islamic law, working with substances that are considered Haram (any act forbidden by Allah) can be frowned upon by the more devout members of the Australian-Muslim community.

Mahmood says it’s just another job, one that gives him an amazing insight into what Australian media insists is “mainstream”.

Finding work at one of Sydney’s most infamous and scat strip clubs, Mahmood agrees that members of his community aren’t angry at him, they’re just really worried.

“I don’t drink at all. I’ve just never had the desire,” said Mahmood. “My views on alcohol have only been reaffirmed after working in the industry for only a few months.”

Alcohol-fuelled violence is rampant within Christian communities. PHOTO: Suppled.
Alcohol-fuelled violence is rampant within Christian communities. PHOTO: Suppled.

The Merrylands local said he’s seen normal, everyday Australians commit horrible acts of violence against complete strangers after having a few too many to drink.

Alcohol-fuelled violence is fast becoming a uniquely Australian problem, with a shockingly high number of young people finding themselves either victims or perpetrators of a crime while under the influence.

Staggeringly, 1 in 3 Australians have fallen victim to alcohol-fuelled violence in the last six months.

In similar Western, countries around the globe with roughly the same thirst for alcohol as Australia, violent crime rates linked to drink are a tiny fraction of what they are here.

“Some of these Catholics who come into my club are animals,” he said. “They drink and drink and drink. Especially the Irish. They drink until they fall down. Then when me or a bouncer try to move them on, it often turns violent.”

Irish plane people are welcomed with open arms in Australia. PHOTO: Supplied.
Irish plane people are welcomed with open arms in Australia. PHOTO: Supplied.

Other examples of extreme violence Mahmood has witnessed Christians committing while under the influence are unfit for print. He recalls one chilling account of a fair-skinned man curb stomping his friend over a game of pool.

Regardless of the violence, Mr Al-Edwij says that he’s very tolerant and warm towards the Australian way of life, even if it means getting a gut full of piss and belting your best mate into a coma.

“This country have given me a future and protection,” he said. “My family is no different than the tidal wave of Irish that wash up here each year. Both of our religions and cultures have been stigmatised by terrorism in the past decades. We both want the same thing. A decent shot at a brighter future.”

Last year, the Australian government took in over 25 000 Irish plane people who were simply looking for a warmer climate to cut concrete in. These numbers show a stark contrast when compared to the paltry 2500 boat people, fleeing deathly violence and persecution in the Middle East and Africa.


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