Rudd’s quest for true blue Muslims?

The Australian reports today:

SPORTING figures, academics and mainstream Muslims will be sought out by the Rudd Government to help recast the overly religious image of Islamic Australia.

In the Rudd Government’s first statement on Muslims, Parliamentary Secretary for Multicultural Affairs Laurie Ferguson told The Australian yesterday it was time to tackle the myths surrounding Islam, arguing religious leaders were not representative of the mainstream Muslim community.

Mr Ferguson said the idea that all Muslims were religious was a “misconception” he wanted debunked. “The whole spectre of Muslims is women in hijabs and other stereotypical characteristics and I think there is not enough opportunity to see a difference,” he said. “There’s a need to have Muslims involved in parents groups, sporting clubs, political parties … tuckshops.”


#1 Abu Omar on 03.11.08 at 12:49 am

So isn’t this an exampe of the state meddling in the affairs of the church, or masjid in this case?

#2 Eudaemonion on 03.11.08 at 1:53 am

Why did I get a shiver down my spine when I read this?

#3 Muhammad on 03.11.08 at 6:59 am

This is ridiculous and in many ways even worse than what the previous government did.

Who gave Laurie Ferguson the right to decide what sort of Muslim gets promoted in this country?

#4 Muslim_perth on 03.11.08 at 9:54 am

i can see it now…….. this will be another useless body, sucking up much needed funds and without helping the muslim community in this country at all……… what role will this body have? is there even a purpose? what power will it have? more free business class travel and hotel suites for the committee members thats all….

#5 Jeff on 03.11.08 at 10:37 am

Reshaping Islam in Ferguson’s image. Money well spent, I’d say. Mums and dads feeling the pinch will get some comfort knowing their tax dollars are going to a great cause.

#6 Abu Omar on 03.11.08 at 12:08 pm

Another question to raise here is why single out the Muslims? Why do we not have a handpicked government-approved Jewish or Christian leaders? Surely their image can be improved upon as well.

Honestly, I hope the Australian electorate will see through this tax-devouring scheme and kick these government official to the curb.

#7 Amal on 03.11.08 at 1:14 pm

While I reject the “freakshow-Muslims-on-display” aspect and the sentiment behind it, the following is true:

Mr Ferguson said the idea that all Muslims were religious was a “misconception” he wanted debunked. “The whole spectre of Muslims is women in hijabs and other stereotypical characteristics and I think there is not enough opportunity to see a difference,” he said. “There’s a need to have Muslims involved in parents groups, sporting clubs, political parties … tuckshops.”

Muslims are not one unified whole. Lots of difference and levels of “religiosity”.

#8 Jeff on 03.11.08 at 4:14 pm

oh God no.

#9 GMan on 03.11.08 at 10:40 pm

But isn’t ‘Muslim’ a religious identity? Otherwise surely non-religious people from Muslim countries are just Lebanese or Indonesians or Moroccans etc.? Such people in Christian-majority countries don’t tend to identify themselves by a religion they don’t practise.

#10 Muhammad on 03.11.08 at 10:44 pm

That’s why it’s so stupid. Muslims practice Islam and so they face some issues as a result. The government wants to understand these issues so they recruit people who don’t practice Islam to talk about it.

#11 Shadower on 03.11.08 at 11:08 pm

Not really GMan, it is a religious identity not a nationality.

Even many of those that are not Religious will still refer to themselves as Muslims.

#12 Simon on 03.11.08 at 11:11 pm

If these politicians were messing around with the Christian or Jewish religion, there would be an outcry but for some reason Muslim leaders welcome this interference in the community.


#13 Amal on 03.11.08 at 11:17 pm

Sorry, I’m not sure I understand how they’re messing around with the religion. It’s clearly a PR exercise, an attempt to make Muslims look better (after the 4 Corners special, it’s no wonder). Some Muslims seem to enjoy the government benefits. Up to them. It seems they’re trying to put together another pointless reference group — hardly a cause for outcry imho. It’s more a “cue the eyeroll” moment.

When the SMH ran a special “Islam in Australia” section last year, lots of Muslims howled because they featured people like NAB’s Ahmed Fahour. They were upset that someone who was “violating” his religion by working for a bank was being held up as an example of Muslim Australia. Er, guess what? He IS an example of Muslim Australia. What’s the biggie? Want to know about Islam? Don’t look at Muslims.

#14 Eudaemonion on 03.11.08 at 11:55 pm

[...Insert my usual rant against undue government interference here...]

#15 Amal on 03.12.08 at 12:12 am

Notwithstanding my earlier comments, I do agree it is all pretty ridiculous. Will Muslim tuck shop assistants wear a badge now? Last I checked, Muslims did venture beyond the home for more than grocery shopping, and I dare suggest some actually contribute to society.

#16 Ibn Abdullah on 03.12.08 at 5:55 am

“There are successful stories in the Muslim community that have not been properly advertised,” Dr Ali said, citing National Australia Bank chief executive Ahmed Fahour and the late founder of Crazy John’s, John Ilhan.

“Right now, the moment you say Muslims, people tend to think these guys are fanatics who are always praying and have beards. That’s wrong because the majority of Muslims are not like that. We have to demolish this image – the stereotyping of the Muslims who are currently all seen as religious people.”


Fanatics who pray all the time and have beards? Is that what Dr Ameer Ali thinks a fanatic is?

#17 Abu Omar on 03.12.08 at 7:32 am

If having a beard and praying all the time is the sign of some kind of anti-social fanaticism will the Australian gov. be looking for ways to “demolish” the image of Sikhs as bearded guys in turbans, or hasidic Jews as bearded guys with those black hats and black suits?

#18 Amal on 03.12.08 at 10:39 am

To be fair, those comments came out of the distinguished mouth of the distinguished Ameer Ali who has a distinguished beard himself.

#19 G-man on 03.12.08 at 11:09 am

I don’t think he’s actually suggesting that having a beard and praying are signs of fanaticism, just that they are probably linked in the minds of people attracted to stereotypes.

#20 Sab on 03.12.08 at 9:23 pm

Ameer Ali’s beard is a small one though.

#21 Amal on 03.12.08 at 11:20 pm

My bad, Sab. I got him mixed up with someone else appearance-wise (whose name escapes me, but I clearly remember the beard because it was so unusual looking). In any case, he remains, in all other ways, distinguished.

#22 Eudaemonion on 03.13.08 at 11:34 pm

Why there should be surprise at leftist condescension coming from New Labour is beyond me. A tiger can’t change its stripes …, a rose by any other name … and all that jazz.

#23 Manas Shaikh on 04.08.08 at 6:43 pm

Hey, but isn’t it true? That most Muslims are not practicing Muslims?

That is not where the problem lies. Problem is in the idea that the religious are somehow bad; and we have to find non-practicing Muslims and show others “look- they are so nice- they don’t even practice!”

#24 John Greenfield on 04.09.08 at 10:04 am

A white pig-ignorant atheist Communist oaf like Laurie Ferguson now decides who is and who is not a Muslim!!??

#25 Jack on 04.09.08 at 8:29 pm

John Greenfield, you racist bigot. What does Laurie Ferguson’s colour have to do with his ability to pick a Muslim out? So what if he’s white?

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