Entries from May 2008 ↓

Camden Council wants federal funding

After ruling that a planned Muslim school should not be allowed to go ahead in their community, Camden Council is now asking the Federal Government to give them some money to run, of all things,  programs to promote “multiculturalism”.

Et Tu, Dunkin’ Donuts?

The Dunkin’ Donuts chain recently screened an advertisement with a celebrity chef called Rachel Ray wearing what appears to be a Palestinian keffeyeh around her neck whilst sipping on a latte.

Michelle Malkin (above), an American blogger and columnist, was appalled at seeing a celebrity chef giving aid and comfort to the enemy by wearing a scarf in a donut commercial that sort of looks like a scarf worn by Palestinians.

I’ve been a fan of Dunkin’ Donuts for years. Their Munchkins are heaven. Their coffee is better and cheaper than Starbucks. And the company’s management has taken a brave and lonely stand in support of immigration enforcement — refusing to hire illegal aliens and blowing the whistle on applicants with bogus Social Security numbers.

So it was with some dismay that I learned last week that Dunkin’ Donuts spokeswoman Rachael Ray, the ubiquitous TV hostess, posed for one of the company’s ads in what appeared to be a black-and-white keffiyeh.

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Camden Council rejects Islamic School

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NSW’s Camden Council have decided to reject the application to build an Islamic school in the area on “planning grounds“. The locals have been going to some lengths to make sure nobody gets the wrong idea and thinks that all this was motivated by racism or anti-Muslim bigotry. AFP reports:

Resident Kate McCulloch, who attended Tuesday night’s meeting in a wide-brimmed bush hat wrapped with an Australian flag, said Muslims were not welcome in the semi-rural area.

“We just don’t want Muslim people in Camden,” she told reporters after the meeting.

“We don’t want them not only here, we don’t want them in Australia. They’re an oppressive society, they’re a dictatorship.”

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‘Razor gang’ calls for ideas

The Age reports today that the government is looking for ideas on saving money:

If anyone out there has any ideas about how the Government could cut out waste and make savings, now is your moment.

Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner is inviting ideas from the public, saying yesterday that the Government’s “razor gang” had started looking for a second round of cuts, targeting the processes and programs of government. He said there were always pressures for new spending, and “we would welcome any suggestions or savings proposals from anybody in the general community”.

I’m sure we can think of projects, departments or organisations that could safely be killed off or sold.   Post your suggestions in the comments.

World Press Photo 08

Rural school girls, Eastern Turkey, Vanessa Winship, UK, Agence Vu

For those residing in (or passing through) Sydney, it is well worth a visit to the NSW State Library for the World Press Photo exhibition before it closes on June 5. Entry is free and the exhibition displays a collection of award-winning photographs from around the globe. They are exceptional photos and viewing them should prove satisfying not only for those with an interest in photography but also for those who can appreciate the power of a single image.

It is a decidedly sombre collection which, I suppose, can be put down to the fact that our world is drowning more in sorrow than in joy. There are many memorable photographs, but I lingered at the Benazir Bhutto assassination photographs: you won’t see her after the attack, but the image of the dead — innocent onlookers, naked and charred from the explosion — will capture your attention like little else. It is incredibly moving.

Of course, the beauty of these photographs is that they are so educational without needing words and hours of reading time. It will remind you of how many varied stories there are to be heard, and just how fragile life is. From the 14-year-old victim of rape to the US soldier collapsing from exhaustion after a mission in Afghanistan. It’s easy to think, from a distance, that we understand what’s going on. Yet life is never so simple.

Open Thread — 25/5/2008

Changes in AFIC Leadership (again)

The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC) have (yet again) undergone another change in leadership, with the previous president Mr Ikebal Patel being removed; followed, as is now almost ritual, with the traditional internecine bloodletting taking place on the pages of the nation’s newspapers.

Mr Patel, who migrated from Fiji in 1992, has been replaced by Haset Sali, a Sunshine Coast commercial lawyer who once likened the actions of former mufti of Australia Taj Din al-Hilali to those of Hitler.

As fans of old school hyperbole, there’s nothing quite like an over-the-top Hitler comparison from one of our Muslim overlords.  Reductio ad Hiterlum: the argument of champions!

And, as we all know, the second stage of the Ousted Muslim Leader Grieving Process is for the deposed party to run to the courts, crying foul, and demanding their reinstatement.

Following a coup last week deposing Ikebal Patel and his executive team, the former AFIC president has taken legal action in the NSW Supreme Court seeking reinstatement, alleging the removal was unconstitutional.

After a brief hearing on Thursday, the court appointed a receiver-manager to run the federation until the matter comes back to court in July.

As Irfan Yusuf told Radio Australia:

YUSUF: I guess there’s really not much AFIC can do. I think it’s pretty much a rotting carcass and I guess the best thing that can happen is if it’s perhaps buried.

Camden Planners recommend against Muslim school

Town planners in Sydney’s Camden have recommended that a proposed Islamic school in the area not be allowed to go ahead:

A Muslim society’s plans to build a school in Camden have been dealt a severe blow after the local council’s planners today recommended against the development on planning grounds.

The Qu’uranic Society Dar Tahfez El-Quran had lodged plans with Camden Council to build a 1200-pupil school at Burragorang Road, Cawdor but drew angry protests from a group called the Committee for Public Affairs Education.

The Herald revealed the group was organised by members of Reverend Fred Nile’s Christian Democratic Party.

The business papers [pdf], already on the Council website, detail the findings and reasons for their decision.

Theodore Dalrymple on True Community

Theodore Dalrymple, writing in The Spectator, offers an, err, interesting litmus test for communities:

I realised that the town was a true community as soon as I heard a rumour that an old lady, a herbalist, had poisoned one of her neighbours. That is what community means: caring enough to poison people. In cities, contact with neighbours is so fleeting and impersonal that antagonism can be expressed only with baseball bats, a crude method requiring little cunning. If Marx were alive today, he would speak of the idiocy of urban life.

On the RMIT Prayer Room Issue

Green Left Weekly are reporting on the RMIT prayer room issue: the apparent decision of the university administration to convert the Muslim prayer room into a “multi-faith spiritual centre”.

For decades, the campus had prayer rooms for Muslim students, including separate rooms for males and females. In 2005 Muslim students pointed out that the existing rooms were too small and unsafe to use. In 2006/07, RMIT approved a new proposal to design and build a replacement Muslim prayer room.

On March 18 word broke out that RMIT had broken its promise to build a bigger Muslim prayer room and had instead decided to make it a multi-faith spiritual centre. It was only at the first Student Services Religious Advisory Committee meeting that students heard of this intention. Ironically, advertising brochures for international students are still being published at RMIT promoting the new “Muslim Prayer Room”.

A letter from the president of the university’s Muslim Student Association can be read here, along with additional commentary.

Given the growing numbers of students from the Gulf attending the university and the fact that the university is actively spruiking for students from the Muslim world, it seems a rather curious decision. As far as we can tell, the incident hasn’t been covered in the Arab press yet but if/when it does, it is unlikely to make RMIT appear a more attractive study destination than it’s local competitors (who have, as of yet, not taken steps to reduce their accommodation of Muslim students or converted their prayer rooms into unisex multi-faith prayer halls).