Afghan migrant visits Whyalla to praise 'unique' Australia

A visitor to Whyalla paid a poignant tribute to his new homeland of Australia.

Hussain Razait was among a group with varying ethnic backgrounds who are being encouraged to consider moving to our city for jobs.

Mr Razait spent the past 18 years in Australia after migrating from war-torn Afghanistan.

"Australia is unique in the world because of its multicultural community," he said at a special barbecue at the Whyalla Foreshore Motor Inn.

"Everyone can exercise their culture, their faith ... everyone cares about others.

"While I have been in Australia, I have never felt I have been discriminated against because I have always been treated as an equal member of society - that is great.

"That is why we are here now to contribute to Australian society.

"We don't want to be a burden on Australia's resources.

"I am here to encourage my community members to come here, live here.

"I have found Whyalla people to be welcoming and kind."

Mr Razait, a builder, is an Afghan community leader in South Australia.

He said he had left Afghanistan when it was under Taliban control in 2000.

In 2001, the United States began military operations in his country after the September 11 terror attacks in America.

"They defeated the Taliban, but there has been corruption and the Taliban are rising again," Mr Razait said.

"It was harsh, frightening and difficult under the Taliban.

"I am an Hazaran, a member of a minority religious group persecuted for the past two centuries because of our ethnicity and religion.

"Sixty-two per cent of Hazarans were slaughtered between 1896 and 1998."

Mr Razait was accompanied by Yasin Hassangar, Hanif Rahimi who runs a supermarket in Prospect and Abdul Hussain Najafi who manages a settlement service with the Middle Eastern Communities Council.

Mr Rahimi said he wanted to open a supermarket in Whyalla as well as an Afghan restaurant.

Afghan husband-and-wife Zabihullah Farzam and Shafiqa Haidari said they were interested in moving to Whyalla.

Mr Farzam is a painter and his wife is studying English.

One of the guests at the barbecue said the migrants ranged from "forklift drivers to pharmacists".

Retired BHP engineer Ranjan Abayasekara said he had migrated from Sri Lanka and first lived in Sydney before moving to Whyalla.

He spoke highly of his life in the steel city.

"In Sydney, they are still waiting for us to come home," he said.

David Penfold, of Regional Development Australia Whyalla and Eyre Peninsula, welcomed the group.

Host Barbara Derham, of the motor inn, said the city had risen to the occasion of the visit.

"Not one person I asked for help said, 'no'," she said.

"I thank all of you for coming to our city."

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