Entries from October 2006 ↓

Planet of the Aye-rabs

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What we have been watching……. for the last 30 years.

Hat tip: Islamophobia watcher

UPDATE: Google have deleted the movie from Youtube.  You can, however, view it at http://www.jsalloum.org/films.html 

Sheikh Taj offers ‘explanatory statement’

The latest development in the Sheikh Taj is that the sheikh has been admitted to hospital after an angina attack at Lakemba Mosque this afternoon.  Since then, he has released a statement which is available in PDF form at The Sydney Morning Herald or at the website of the Lebanese Muslim Association.

24 hours in the Australian media

It’s been a busy week for the Australian media when it comes to reporting Islamic issues. Following the initial report in The Australian of Sheikh Taj’s speech, there has been a tsunami of coverage as each outlet has sought to offer a new and different perspective or insight on the events that are unfolding in Sydney’s south west. Events, we might add, that have culminated in the news that Sheikh Taj was taken away by paramedics a short while ago.

With all this excitement, it’s perhaps understandable that some mistakes creep into media reports. So here’s a snapshot from the last 24 hours.

Exhibit A

In reporting the supposed meeting to decide Sheikh Taj’s future, the Sydney Morning Herald informs its readers that the LMA would be calling an umma. They write (emphasis added):

The Herald believes the plan, thrashed out at a closed-door meeting of the Lebanese Muslim Association on Saturday, was devised after discussion of several options. They include the staging of an umma – a national consultative process – to determine whether the sheik should be stripped of his title of Mufti of Australia and New Zealand….That can be done only through an umma, which may take several days or weeks to organise because it involves clerics, Sunni and Shiite, from every state and New Zealand….While declining to confirm any decision to stage an umma…

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Guilty meat but innocent cats

The Australian is reporting today and, as one might expect, the media is abuzz with Sheikh Taj al-Hilali’s alleged comments during Ramadan. According to the report — which I hope is untrue — the sheikh is reported to have likened rape victims to a piece of meat and those that rape her to cats merely dining on the meat that has appeared in their view.

While not specifically referring to the rapes, brutal attacks on four women for which a group of young Lebanese men received long jail sentences, Sheik Hilali said there were women who “sway suggestively” and wore make-up and immodest dress … “and then you get a judge without mercy (rahma) and gives you 65 years”.

“But the problem, but the problem all began with who?” he asked.

The leader of the 2000 rapes in Sydney’s southwest, Bilal Skaf, a Muslim, was initially sentenced to 55 years’ jail, but later had the sentence reduced on appeal.

In the religious address on adultery to about 500 worshippers in Sydney last month, Sheik Hilali said: “If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it … whose fault is it, the cats or the uncovered meat?

“The uncovered meat is the problem.”

The sheik then said: “If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab, no problem would have occurred.”

I still hold out hope that somehow The Australian has got it wrong because these comments are so utterly disgusting and so completely antithetical to the teachings of Islam that it is hard to believe that any human, much less a Muslim leader, would utter them. For a Sheikh to allegedly choose Ramadan — a time when many non-practicing Muslim men are gathered — to offer what might be seen by some of them as a moral escape clause for sexual violence against women demands a response. Whilst I will refrain from commenting on Sheikh Taj or his particular situation until it becomes clear that he said these words, it is nonetheless necessary to deal with the idea itself.

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Did the Command Economy kill the Khalifah?

An Economic and Social History of the Ottoman Empire by Prof. Halil Inalcik is an excellent resource for anyone who wishes to understand, in detail, the nature of Ottoman economics. It is particularly interesting, for example, to note that one of the reasons that the author gives for the decline of Ottoman economic power relative to Europe was that the Ottomans had implemented a command economy and found themselves unable to compete with the dynamic free markets of Europe.

Inalcik describes the silk and dye trades — two of the most important industries to the Ottoman economy — and how the government had tightly regulated these industries: controlling the quantity, price and even quality of the output. Even though markets were rapidly expanding and there was increasing demand for new and cheaper products, the Ottoman central planners refused to allow this demand to be met and went so far as to regulate the quantities of silk and other fibres that could be used in particular textiles. Indeed, it became necessary for craftsman in the 15th century to actually bribe Ottoman officials in order to be allowed to produce more than what the central planners deemed necessary or to produce textiles of differing quality to that legislated by the state. This kept prices artificially high, but it also left considerable demand unmet and exposed markets under Ottoman control to cheaper imports from the rapidly growing economies of Europe.
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Visit Medina without leaving home

Hood Bradford has prepared a virtual tour of Medina using the popular Google Earth application. After downloading and installing Google Earth, simply download and open this file and you will flying over the City of the Prophet in seconds. Visit Hood’s site for a listing of all the sites currently included in the tour.

Trading Places

In the latest American Conservative, John Zmirak offers a useful thought experiment to demonstrate the polarised extremes of contemporary American politics. He writes, in part:

Progressives, every time you complain about the “Christian Right,” just once plug in the “Jewish Left.” Sounds kind of offensive, doesn’t it?

Conservatives, imagine that it had been Arabs, instead of Americans, who killed 200,000 civilians in Hiroshima to save the lives of their soldiers. Then it would have been an act of terrorism.

Progressives, imagine if George W. Bush were using force trying to spread feminism instead of capitalism. Would you still protest his wars?

Conservatives, imagine if it were Bill Clinton trying to suspend the Constitution to protect us against white terrorists like Timothy McVeigh. Would you call reporters “traitors” for covering it?

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A World without TV?

In Peter Hitchens’ excellent book The Abolition of Britain, he quotes a letter from T.S. Eliot to the Times of London warning against the uptake of television in the United Kingdom. Eliot’s letter, published in 1950, reads, in part:

…I have just returned from a visit to the United States…Among persons of my own acquaintance I found only anxiety amd apprehension about the social effects of this pastime [television], especially about its effect (mentally , morally and physically) upon small children….The fears expressed by my American friends were not such as could be allayed by the provision of only superior and harmless programmes: they were concerned with the television habit, whatever the programme might be.

Naturally, we will never really know what society might have looked like were the “television habit”, as Eliot calls it, to have been avoided. However, an interesting paper, published this month, by Harvard University’s Benjamin Olken offers some possible insight into the effect that television can have on a community.
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The Sexualisation of Children

The Australia Institute has recently released a report entitled, Corporate Paedophilia [pdf], that examines the early sexualisation of children and particularly young girls. The report, authored by Emma Rush, makes the point that some corporations are actively promoting this through the marketing of products such as padded bras and G-strings targeted at girls as young as six.

As the author explains:

Images of sexualised children are becoming increasingly common in advertising and marketing material. Children who appear aged 12 years and under, particularly girls, are dressed, posed and made up in the same way as sexy adult models. ‘Corporate paedophilia’ is a metaphor used to describe advertising and marketing that sexualises children in these ways. The metaphor encapsulates the idea that such advertising and marketing is an abuse both of children and of public morality.

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The naked truth about lifting veils

Martin Rawson in today’s Guardian.