Entries from August 2006 ↓

‘Cultural diversity’ in Muslim schools

The Herald Sun reported a few days ago:

Education Department senior education officer Brian Collins said parents at St Georges Rd and Wilmot Rd primary schools had objected to music classes.

“Some Muslim families have requested their children don’t attend music classes for cultural reasons,” he said.

“And we respect cultural diversity in schools.”

He said the children were being supervised by other teachers during music classes.

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Beliefs, Believers and Double-edged Swords

The Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV) is back in court defending an appeal by Catch the Fire Ministries (CTFM) against a finding of religious vilification last year. For those that may be unfamiliar with the case and the law under which it is being prosecuted, I refer you to this piece in Spiked-Online which provides some background.

However, as The Age reports, there are some interesting arguments being raised in the appeal.

Justice Geoffrey Nettle asked Mr Woinarski: “There must be intellectually a distinction between the ideas and those who hold them?” “We don’t agree with that,” Mr Woinarski said. “But in this case it’s an irrelevant distinction, because Muslims and Islam were mishmashed up together.”Justice Nettle: “Are you saying it’s impossible to incite hatred against a religion without also inciting hatred against people who hold it?” Mr Woinarski: “Yes.”

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How to beat up a Muslim Beauty Queen

Yesterday, we witnessed yet another Muslim-as-a-beauty-queen moral panic with the Herald-Sun reporting that

A MELBOURNE Muslim girl condemned by Islamic leaders for entering a beauty pageant has defied protests to be shortlisted for the Victorian final.

Ayten Ahmet, 16, advanced to the top 26 of Miss Teen Australia yesterday despite an outcry from some of Victoria’s senior Muslims.

Now, as the old adage goes, a dog biting a man isn’t news; but a man biting a dog is news. A modern version might be something like this: a woman in a beauty pageant isn’t news; but a Muslim woman in a beauty pageant is news (even if she doesn’t identify herself as Muslim, wear hijab, or mention Islam). And that is especially true if you can accompany it with a nice side serve of clerical outrage.

Here’s the recipe for others that are interested in reproducing the beat up: if a woman with a vaguely Muslim name or background enters a beauty pageant, then call Muslim representatives, tell them that a Muslim girl is in the contest and wait for their ‘condemnation’; call the girl or her family and relay the clerical condemnation; and then report that Muslims are ‘protesting’ her appearance or that there is some sort of ‘outcry’ against her participation.  Publish the Muslim outrage on day one, and save the girl’s response for day two.

Robert Hughes on the dangers of self-indulgence

Robert Hughes remains Australia’s most refreshing art critic. His prose is typically direct, jolting and blisteringly unsentimental.

In his autobiography, he refocuses the lens upon himself and the lessons he has learned from a nihilistic life of self-indulgence. More importantly he details the consequences for his son, who committed suicide recently.

The first extracts are serialised in the Sunday Times. This is not suitable for children.

PJ O’Rourke on Islamic Economics

A commenter on Hood Bradford’s excellent Islamic Law etc recently posted an entirely off-topic but interesting quote from the American satirist and political writer PJ O’Rourke.

Also, the Islamic religion has the right attitude. In the Koran, Sura II, verse 275, states, “God hath permitted trade.” The Koran orders the use of honest weights and measures, the fulfillment of contracts, and the payment of debts. And one of the sayings attributed to Muhammad makes him not just the Prophet of Allah but the prophet of Adam Smith: “Only God can fix prices.”

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A Postmodern Influence on Modern Islam

hip hop

The twentieth century will be remembered by history as the era of the tyranny of man-made religion. National Socialism, ethnic nationalism, fascism, and communism have already come and gone so quickly that one is surprised by the “great minds” that seem to be stuck in these political cul de sacs and dead ends. It also exposes the lie of western civilization, in fact there have been successive convulsions of Western civilization, each less civilized than the last. When the current crop of “conservative” insta-pundits coo about the revival of faith-based conservatism, Muslims should turn it over and look for the use by date.

This has not stopped some Muslims amongst us from sampling the latest flavour on the menu; postmodernism in philosophy. Whilst a good definition of PoMo is lacking, this is probably due to the ambiguity of the concept itself. There are however, some features that postmodernists can (reluctantly) agree on:

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The Truth about the Truth about the Talmud

“The Jews are called human beings, but the non-Jews are not humans. They are beasts.”

Heard that before? According to numerous websites, including this Australian Islamic website, it’s from the Jewish holy book. It forms part of a collection of quotes, reportedly sourced from Jewish religious texts, that are supposed to show a Jewish contempt for non-Jewish life. Needless to say, these quotes have been given a good airing in recent weeks on mailing lists and other forums as some sought to explain the Israeli attack on Lebanon by referencing Jewish sacred texts and associated exegesis.

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Paid Profiling?

The recent events in the United Kingdom have brought, yet again, the debate about profiling to the fore. Advocates argue that because much of the terrorism witnessed in the world since September 11 has originated with Muslims, it makes sense to focus attention on Muslims that might be boarding planes or public transport. The argument is that, given finite resources, it is better to expend those resources checking people who belong to one of the several ethnic and religious groups with a known association with terrorism or politically-motivated violence. On the other hand, the argument opposing profiles can be distilled down to these points: if you target Arab males, terrorists will recognise your ‘blind spot’ and start using non-Arab women or teenagers as suicide bombers; and it is an undesirable infringement of our civil liberties to subject specific ethnic or religious groups to special attention in this manner.

In any case, in order for it to be effective, the government would need to know the religion (and political persuasion) of a person before they board a plane. This may be easy in the case of women in hijab but not in the case of Muslim men who are often indistinguishable from non-Muslim men. Therefore, such schemes would work most effectively if people’s religion was recorded on their passport. This raises a number of further issues: what would compel a person to record their religion truthfully given religion is ultimately a personal matter and simply the adoption of certain ideas and rites; and can we stomach a society where each of us is walking around with a document marked ‘Jew’ or ‘Muslim’. I think not.
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The Threat of Conversion

The Australian reports today that members of the PM’s Muslim Community Reference Group (MCRG) have taken a break from calling for government acceptance of Hezbollah as ‘freedom fighters’, and chanting “death to the enemies” (of Lebanon) at anti-war rallies to put forward a rather novel idea. The MCRG are calling for the establishment of a mentoring program for converts to Islam, complete with an ‘orientation pack’ for new Muslims.

MUSLIM leaders have urged the Howard Government to back a plan that would help prevent new converts to Islam from having their minds poisoned by extremist clerics.

Under the proposal by John Howard’s Muslim advisory board, mentors would bring converts into the fold to stop them falling into the hands of radicals.

There appears to be a common pattern emerging in the MCRG’s dealings with government: highlight some supposed ‘threat’ and then propose a solution that requires the expenditure of public funds to achieve it. In this case, the MCRG are promoting the threat of the radicalised convert and then asking that the government ‘back’ (i.e. fund) the production and distribution of supposed ‘convert packs’.

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The Meaning of Hezbollah: Does anybody care?

Nowadays, let’s face it, it’s just not PC for Muslims to question Hezbollah’s motives or raise doubts about the efficacy of supporting them. One doesn’t need to travel too far into the Australian Muslim community to see that everyone loves Nasrallah. Even the handpicked members of the government’s Muslim Reference Committee — card-carrying moderates, if ever there were — are demanding that the government delist them as a terrorist organisation. The timing is impeccable: say nothing when they were originally listed, but as soon as they start raining missiles on the “Zionist Entity”, we start demanding the government reconsider its assessment. With timing like that, it’s no wonder we are misunderstood.

Hezbollah, we are repeatedly told, are not terrorists but ‘freedom fighters’. They are defending Lebanon against an Israeli invasion. However, they are not simply a self-funded, self-armed, self-inspired localised grassroots militia. They clearly have better equipment and training than even the Lebanese standing army and may even eclipse the other Arab states in their on-the-ground capability. Certainly, they seem to be doing what no Arab army has done in living memory and that is put up a credible fight against the Israeli Defence Force. This is almost entirely due to the fact that they receive their funding, inspiration, training, weapons and direction from Iran.

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