February 27, 2017
Australian Islamic Mission, the group funding the controversial Bendigo mosque, is demanding an apology from the ABC and Q&A.
Well, join the queue.
It may seem odd for AIM to sign a petition condemning Q&A for “giving unchallenged airtime to racial and ethno-religious abuse” by Senator Jacqui Lambie when, for more than a decade, AIM has been rolling out the red carpet for international speakers whose stock in trade is ethno-religious abuse.
Take Kuwaiti cleric Tareq Al-Suwaidan. Banned in the US, Belgium, even Saudi Arabia, he has been an honoured guest speaker at AIM fundraisers in 2010 and 2012.
Here he is sharing his trademark tolerance: “All the mothers of the Islamic nation … should suckle their babies on the hatred of the sons of Zion.
“We should instil this in the souls of our children, until a new generation arises and wipes them off the face of the earth … each one of us, when leaving this hall, should be contemplating how to wipe out Israel.”
AIM objected to Lambie’s comments because, it insists, they were racist and crude “and constitute racial abuse and bullying that would not be allowed at any of our workplaces, educational institutions or public spaces”.
Lambie upset AIM when she said: “So you can be a sharia law supporter and be half-pregnant at the same time? C’mon.”
AIM has also raised these comments by Lambie: “Stop playing the victim, we’ve had enough” and “Your ban got lifted, get over it … It hasn’t hurt you at all” and when she said her speech might be unacceptable “to a minority … but this is for the majority, this is what the majority want”.
Yet Yvonne Ridley, a speaker at AIM’s 2014 conference who was captured by the Taliban and converted to Islam, described former British foreign minister David Miliband (who is Jewish) as “a gutless little weasel who lost more than his foreskin when he was circumcised”, talks about “Zionists [having] tentacles everywhere”, has openly broken UN sanctions to fund Hamas, and wrote that the mastermind of the Beslan school massacre in which up to 385 people died, including 186 children, was a martyr whose death saddened her.
AIM was disgusted that “hateful speech” was allowed on the ABC; yet promotes the writing of Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a fan of Palestinian suicide bombing, who said in 2009: “Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the Jews, people who would punish them for their corruption … The last punishment was carried out by Hitler … Allah willing, the next time will be at the hand of the believers.”
That the promoters of radical Islam arm themselves with the cudgels of political correctness is not surprising; it is a handy way of intimidating critics and when anyone returns fire they are accused of Islamophobia.
Thus, the petition AIM signed finished off with the admonition that “Islamophobia should not be tolerated, not in any workplace, and not in any forum”.
The Q&A program launched a national debate about sharia law after activist Yassmin Abdel-Magied claimed the Koran taught people to follow the law of the land and was therefore compatible with secular law. Qaradawi’s view, which, as president of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, probably carries more weight than Abdel-Magied’s, says “the acceptance of secularism means abandonment of sharia, a denial of the Divine guidance and a rejection of Allah’s injunctions” and as such is “a downright apostasy” and punishable by death.
In 2010, a former AIM president, Zachariah Matthews, called for sharia law in Australia to “function as a parallel system” although he said he was not calling for “cutting off hands”. Yet AIM brought out American imam Siraj Wahhaj, who was unambiguous about what sharia means: “Allah is angry at you when you steal. He sees you. Punishment? Chop off the hand. He’s angry when you drink, Brother. Punishment? Lashes. You take drugs? Punishment? Lashes.” As for sex outside of marriage: “If you commit zina (fornication or adultery) and you’re single, the punishment in Islam is 100 lashes. If you commit zina and you’re married, the punishment is death by stoning — capital punishment.”
That’s standard fare at the talks AIM promotes; a lecture by Dr Harlina Halizah Siraj, was organised by IKRAM, a Malaysian organisation that says Muslim physicians should perform surgical amputations in accordance with sharia law.
While Sudanese-born Abdel-Magied claims that Islam is “the most feminist religion”, that’s unlikely to be the view of Mariam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag. The pregnant 27-year-old Sudanese, only a year older than Abdel-Magied, was sentenced to death in 2014 under Article 126 of the Sudanese Criminal Code for renouncing Islam, even though she had never been a Muslim. Under sharia law, Ishag, a practising Christian, raised by a Christian mother, was considered Muslim because she had a Muslim father. She was also sentenced to 100 lashes for adultery because the state did not recognise her 2012 marriage to her Christian husband.
But none of this would have surprised another AIM guest in 2014: the Mufti of Sudan, the highest religious authority in the country, Dr Issam Al Bashir. Asked about Ishag’s plight, he thought she should be given more time to decide whether she wanted to convert to Islam.
The most extraordinary thing about the petition AIM signed is that the signatories claim to be “leaders against fascism and racism”. Really? In 2001, Zachariah Matthews wrote that one of the principles that emerges from studying the life of the Prophet is that “deception is necessary”.
But fewer Australians are deceived about sharia since 9/11. Sort of a crash course. Not long after the petition AIM signed was launched, another petition was started condemning Abdel-Magied for “lying to the public about the merits of sharia Law” and calling on the ABC not to use her as a paid presenter. So far, it has more than 10,000 signatures and Muslim Collective has less than 2000.
Rebecca Weisser is a research associate at the Centre for Independent Studies