“I’m a ticking time bomb maaan”; Muslims who clothe themselves in pity.

Its curtains for Mrs MuffinOne week ago, the old parliament building hosted a public conference between Muslim and wider Australia, the culmination of which was a tearful rendition of Waltzing Matilda by former Prime Minister Bob Hawke. Alongside the good and the great were the ever growing class of Professional Public Muslims (PPM) who ply their trade of interpreting Muslim Australia to the wider community and lubricating the wheels of “community relations”.

I listened and read extracts of the entire proceedings and watched snippets of it on TV. My reaction was that the image of Islam we give to wider Australia is one of self pity, an exaggerated sense of victimhood and a demand that wider Australia fund our “rehabilitation” with public money.

Here is how it goes; create or exaggerate a problem with a false or deliberately alarmist narrative: little Fatima is glared at by Mrs Muffin at the local grocery store, she goes home distraught and confides in older brother Sam, a recently recovered drug-dealing, pimping, ex-con who became a religiously observant Muslim one hour earlier. Sam, overcome with rage and humiliation at the infidel, explodes into violence and runs down to the local subway restaurant and clubs Bruce to death with a foot-long veggie delite (without the jalapeños). Worse still Sam may join Sheikh Funde and his bunch of not so merry men and plan the violent overthrow of Australia, and replace Mrs Muffin with Mama Falafel.

Bottom line: be extra nice to us otherwise we will be unable to control ourselves (By the way, Islam is a religion of peace and you should be a Muslim too, would you like a cupcake?)

Enter Professional Public Muslim (PPM). Using their wits alone (OK, also with huge government funding, support and patronage), PPM defuses the situation with an ongoing (never ending) series of love ins, cross cultural coffee, releasing pigeons for peace etc…).

The problem is that this is not a solution to criminality which is best dealt with by law enforcement. It also inoculates the wider community with the impression that religious Muslims are a hidden threat, that they are predisposed to violence and that if someone somewhere is rude to them they will feel alienated enough to commit mass murder or other criminality. Thus Religious Muslims ipso facto cannot be moral exemplars but are rather spiritually crippled half-humans, hostage to their emotions. If John Stone or Fred Nile says it we would go bananas.

The other message delivered by Sheikh Omran was that Australia was not welcoming enough and that Australians are obliged to make visitors feel welcome. Wider Australia may reasonably ask if giving someone welfare for a decade, free medical care for them and their family, funding their places of worship, celebrating their religious festivals with them and allowing ones own children to convert to the new religion, is not being welcome enough.

Religious Muslims are not violent people, indeed it is very likely that the general level of criminality is much lower than in the wider community. I have spent my entire life in the company of such people who have on occasion been ill treated, not one that I know has ever retaliated in a violent fashion. Without exception they are very grateful for the treatment they have received from wider society and love to live in Australia and identify themselves as Australian. Groups like Tabligeeh Jamaat expend their efforts training new converts to Islam to complain to God alone for any problem that they may encounter. These “fundamentalists” travel door to door amongst Muslims and urge them to pray in the Mosques, they are frequently ridiculed and abused by their fellow Muslims and yet not once have they resorted to even argument in their own defense. To suggest that wider Australia see them and others as a potential threat borne out of alienation is as absurd as it is dangerous.

Muslims who feel inclined to violence have a defect in their character that is up to them to correct. They are also an extremely small minority, discussing them ad nauseam will not do anything beyond creating anxiety. Muslims who talk up violence in the Muslim community as a reason for larger public funding of their group/project/initiative do so at the expense of the good name of Muslims Australia wide. Another in the growing list of examples where short term personal advantage is put before the wider interests of the Muslim community.

During the early years of his Prophethood in Makkah, Muhammad (pbuh) and the early Muslims were seriously persecuted, when one of his followers complained to him about this his reply was that “Generations who came before suffered much worse without even a word”.

Muslims who feel picked on or bullied by society should either get over it, or petition God (Allah SWT) in their nightly prayers, but not constantly indulge their sense of victimhood.

12 comments ↓

#1 Amal on 03.12.07 at 10:34 am

Baybers, you always make me laugh with your imagery. Great piece, mashallah.

What I really like about this post is that you point out that, while there are people who have experienced ill treatment, none of this is unique to Muslims, even if it feels like it is. It is very easy to amplify a sense of victimhood, or to sniff at what is given to us as citizens of Australia. I see it with some migrants who whinge and scoff at everything, rather than show gratitude for the benefits they would never enjoy back home. Not all are like that, of course, but I do find it alarming how ungrateful some people can be.

But one thing I would like to add is that like with most things under the media spotlight, we’re only seeing a subsection of the community. I do think many Muslims are just getting on with things and want to make positive contributions to the wider Australian community.

#2 Dervish » Blog Archive » Lunch Time Browse on 03.12.07 at 12:11 pm

[...] Via Astrolabe: Baybers has an amusing piece, with deeper meaning, on the problem of the public face of Muslims in Australia.  I was at the Canberra Forum as an observer, and my impression is not that it was a constant harping of the dangers of a small minority of militants within the Muslim community, but I have some sympathy with the view that we are taking ourselves a bit too seriously every time the media comes a knockin’.  [...]

#3 Ned Kelly on 03.12.07 at 1:16 pm

The Jews came to this country as refugees and suffered arguably more than did the Muslims coming from Lebanon and yet they’ve managed to do okay for themselves and for everyone else. Or to bring it a bit closer to home why do Lebanese Christians do better than Lebanese Muslims in this country?

If the Muslim community is serious about being taken seriously, it might have to marginalise the Lebanese Muslim community and start promoting some half decent alternative faces and voices. I know there are plenty of educated Muslims but we never see them in the media or in these public forums. It’s usually the guy who looks like he just traded his gun for his prayer beads telling the infidels that unless we do something there will be rivers of blood or something. That’s not reassuring, it’s threatening and your community needs to do something about it quick smart.

#4 Amir on 03.12.07 at 3:41 pm

Ned, it’s not something that we have a tremendous amount of control over. The media naturally loves drama and, in the Muslim community, drama can be found in two places: the so-called radical sheikhs and the misguided youth with their drugs, violence and criminality. There isn’t much drama to be found in between these two extremes and so I don’t think the media is every really going to focus on those sorts of Muslims.

#5 Baybers on 03.12.07 at 6:04 pm

Thanks Amal, I think that some people can get carried away. There are many people (perhaps even a large majority ) who are very sympathetic to recent Muslim migrants and go out of their way to help us.

Maryam,
I would be very interested to know your views from inside the event, Obviously its important. There is another reality, and that is what was transmitted and written about it. The channel 9 piece that I linked to is the only window that most people will see of the meeting, and it obviously has an agenda. the point is that Muslims are happy to feed that agenda unthinkingly.

Ned Kelly
I agree with many of your sentiments, but your whole comment is filled with irony (?unintended). You chose the name of a criminal who killed police in order to castigate Lebanese Muslims for being criminally violent. I do agree that Lebanese Muslims have a social problem that they need to address, but as the gang rapes in Weribee have shown that this type of behaviour is not limited to Lebanese or Muslims. Lebanese Christians have been held as an example of a community that has done well, as opposed to Muslims from the same area. There is no data to back this up, if you have any I would be interested to see it.

You are right to say that Muslim migrants have been generally treated very well by Australia as they have arrived.

#6 Umm Yasmin on 03.13.07 at 10:00 pm

Assalamu ‘alaykum,

I have to say when I initially read the program I was highly sceptical. Having Pell and Omran on the same panel, or Albrechtson and Dourehi? Sheesh what were they thinking?

I got up there on the Saturday morning, and I observed the panels and gave some ‘informed’ views for a couple of the break-out groups on the Sunday. They had polled the participants before the forum and then after the forum to ascertain the change in perceptions. Some of the breakout groups did not have any Muslims at all, by design, ostensibly to allow the participants the freedom to be critical, but one participant in one of those groups mentioned a high level of fear of Muslims in the consultations.

What happened, is that the breakout groups came up with one question each (there were about 24 or so groups) that would be asked of the following panel of experts. Consequently, the tenor of the questions was very much a product of the level of knowledge of the group asking them. As such, there were quite a few questions about the level of terrorism, problems between Shi’a and Sunni Muslims, whether Muslims are able to integrate etc. This is because that is what the average Joe in the street is fed constantly in the media they consume.

The problem with the panels, is that with so many groups and questions to get through, nothing more than a ’sound-bite’ was really possible, no really deep and considered opinions to the issues. But that is simply a design flaw – a pity really, given the possibility for something better.

One of the positive things about the forum, was that it really did allow ordinary Australians to come into contact with Muslims, and it was evident in the change in perceptions that this appears to be a way of facilitating a real change of attitudes towards and about Muslims amongst wider Australia.

I did think it was interesting that the Federal govt. chose not to send any pollies along. It just shows to me they’re not really interested in promoting social cohesion and harmony, despite the rhetoric.

#7 E. Mariyani on 03.14.07 at 11:04 pm

The other message delivered by Sheikh Omran was that Australia was not welcoming enough and that Australians are obliged to make visitors feel welcome. Wider Australia may reasonably ask if giving someone welfare for a decade, free medical care for them and their family, funding their places of worship, celebrating their religious festivals with them and allowing ones own children to convert to the new religion, is not being welcome enough.

Hmmm … maybe you’d agree a little more with the Sheikh if you wife were to get the living daylights frightened out of her on one day by crazed screaming Austraaayan hoons, and spat on by a random individual Austraaayan while walking down the street a few days later.

It’s experiences like these that first shock and then, on extended contemplation, alienate Muslims; and it is these experiences that give a resonance to the Sheikh’s words.

Hayekian observations on the welfare state have nothing to do with it. To think that they do indicates a lack of first-hand knowledge of the frightening and shaming experiences that scar some – perhaps many – Australian Muslims for a very long time.

#8 gess on 03.15.07 at 1:18 am

Baybers (and rest of the team), Masha’Allah. Thank you all for your valuable time for making this excellent blog. Your site is very unique for a blog, becuase of the high quality and professional content.

Jazak Allah Khair.

#9 Baybers on 03.16.07 at 12:18 am

Wasalaam

You are most welcome

#10 Baybers on 03.18.07 at 10:23 am

E,
There have been instances where Muslims have been assaulted or abused, I know some of these cases personally. Women who have been spat on or had their hijab torn off, or abused in the street by complete strangers.

The victims of this abuse never retaliate, nor do they ever say or imply that they are going to become drug addicts or are on the edge of exploding into violence. It is almost never the case that the victims of violence of this nature will become violent themselves.

The people who are making these claims are rarely or never subject to abuse. On what basis do they say that the Muslim community is ready to explode, do they have some sort of early warning community “combustibility” device?

My impression is that they are projecting their own sentiments into the community, or that they have spent to much time watching television drama rather than in self rectification and prayer.

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