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Bismillah ir Rahman ir Raheem
Published on 30th June, 2001

Albanian Muslims of Queensland Australia

By Ibrahim Underwood

Mareeba Mosque

This century, Muslims have arrived in Australia in two distinct waves:

  • Immigration in the 1960’s, and

  • Immigration during the 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s

Albanian Muslims

Aside from Afghan and Malay immigration in the early part of this century, the other important pre-second European war migration was largely by Albanian Muslims between 1900 to the 1920s – particularly after 1921. This was reinforced after the second European war, with further boost of Albanian, ‘Jugo-Slav’, and Russian (Tatars – or [i.e. white] Russian Muslims) Muslims migrating to Queensland. [Johnston, p. 421.; ‘Albanians’]

North Queensland

These European Muslims congregated around the sugar cane areas of North Queensland, particularly Cairns. Mareeba near Cairns, is home to one of the oldest surviving continually used mosques in Queensland, built by Albanian farmers.

Although Muslims have lived in Queensland since last century, the growth of sizeable Muslim communities has only occurred in the last three decades. [Carne, J. C., p. 184-194]

White Muslims in White land, the Albanians, Bosnians & Tatars

 

In Queensland, the first Albanians arrived in 1885, a few before 1920, but most arrived during the 1920’s, congregating particularly around the sugar region of Cairns, and the cotton and tobacco regions in Brisbane. European Muslim immigration, including some Bosnian and Tatar migrants, during the 1930’s and 1940’s boosted the already established Albanian Muslim communities in Cairns (Mareeba) and Brisbane. 

Enemy Aliens

During the second European war, Queensland Albanians, even those who were naturalised, were considered enemy aliens and interned at a surveillance camp at Monte.

‘Tatars’- white Muslims from the Crimea, the Caucasus, Central Asia and Heilongjiang (Manchuria) province of China - also entered Queensland at the end of last century as railway workers and some found their way onto the sugar fields of North Queensland.

According to Price, up to 12% of Serbian/Yugoslav, immigration to Australia was Muslim, a portion of which migrated to Queensland.

During the late 1940’s and the 1950’s, Muslims of Bosnian, Albanian, Bulgarian, and Russian backgrounds migrated to Australia, finding it easier to enter Australia because of their ‘whiter’ status. The large number of Turkish and Lebanese Muslim immigrants during this period did not settle in any discernible numbers in Brisbane. This immigration boosted the largely Albanian community (though a few Afghans and Indians may still have been there) that was established in Brisbane, and in 1949 a mosque was built.

White Australia Policy

Under the White Australia Policy, ‘Tatars’ became embroiled in a controversy over their eligibility to enter Australia, which was only resolved after it was found out that they had white skin after all.

References:

Naum Konxha, originally from southern Albania, Brisbane Courier Mail of 8 June 1936.

"Albanians", Australian People, p. Carne, J. C. Jones, M. L., pp.  34-35.

"Tatars",
Australian People, p. Although they entered in extremely small numbers during this period, and assimilated with either other European Muslims or other Eastern European migrants. Price, C. Carne, J. C., p. 184-194.

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