When we think of the early Swan River Colony we usually picture white British settlers and Aborigines. And no one else. So it might come as a surprise to find there was a thriving Muslim community (perhaps from Indonesia) right from the start. Unfortunately, we only know this because racist bigots decided to beat them up.
On Christmas Eve 1832, Samud Alli was on his way to George Leake’s store when John Velvick grabbed him outside the Perth Hotel and said “You black man, give me glass of grog.”
Samud protested that, as a Muslim, he didn’t drink. So Velvick punched him two or three times, using language the newspaper said was “too disgusting for publication”.
Then Velvick held him while his white mate started laying into Samud with a stick. He was only rescued when other Muslims arrived and calmed the situation.
The Muslims went back home, while the white men went to another pub, Mayo’s Bar. Here, they got very pissed. Twenty of them (including teenagers) grabbed heavy sticks, determined to start a fight with their Muslim neighbours and tear down their huts.
Leading the baying mob, Velvick demanded Samud fight him, to which he calmly replied “I no fight.”
“You bloody bastard, you must fight,” screamed Velvick, calling on his twenty mates to lay into the eight Muslims.
The defenceless party had no chance. Most were still sitting down, and some were attempting to shake hands with their attackers.
The beating was so bad, every Muslim was covered with blood.
For this vile act, Velvick got three months. But a worse fate was waiting for him.
Shortly after he was released from prison, he and his brother were killed by Aboriginal resistance leader, Yagan. Neville Green has suggested the Velvicks were singled out because they were known to be violent racists.
Unfortunately, events spiralled out of control, leading ultimately to Yagan’s death at the hand of a colonist.
Welcome to the founding of our colony.