I really wanted to ignore Paul Sheehan today

It really is too tempting when he is into puffing the reputation of this creep*:

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… and comes to a conclusion of monumental mischievousness – another bit of petrol for the fire, eh Paul! But you are merely being on form.

And I should add that when it comes to the other part of Paul’s thesis – the ratbag who was let into the country but arguably had nothing to do with the events in Sydney last weekend, even if his supporters said in my mind some very silly things afterwards – I, unlike most of you, I would bet, have actually had first-hand experience of Hizb ut-Tahrir:

The Mine and the Islamists: cause for concern?

17MAR 2006

This back link to last year is vital background to what follows. Naturally the links therein to Diary-X no longer work, but I will shortly post the relevant items on my Angelfire blog and reset the links.* The gist: the article above discusses the visit by some interesting people to my former place of work. See also another August 2005 entry, Indigo Jo Blogs Patrick Sookhdeo on moderate Islam.. I have been able to correct the links on that one.

I urge you to read those articles, and also not to jump to conclusions when you read what follows. I do not feel threatened, but I do feel concerned.

Unfortunately, in my opinion, the Islamic Students Society at The Mine has made some connection with clearly Islamist groups. I have just read a Wikipedia article, currently being considered for deletion, written by some of the students themselves.

In 2005 the ISSBH enjoyed its most productive year, with a range of activities undertaken by the society to promote its newly dubbed “Annual Forum and Presentation on Islam”. Leading up to the event, several information stalls were held in order to give people a taste of multicultural food and also to promote the event. The Forum was well attended at around 310 people, with the speakers on this occasion being the world famous Sheikh Khalid Yasin, and the Sydney-based Islamic media personality Wassim Doureihi, invited to speak because of recommendations of his eloquence and sound expression. Both speakers impressed the audience present, despite campaigns run by senior students in the school to question the validity of Islamic law as a useful means by which to guide mankind’s affairs. The ISSBH was on the ABC program “the 7.30 Report” and has since concentrated on internal efforts and discussion with students at the school on a personal basis.

That is the actual event – 2005 at SBHS.

Wassim Doureihi is spokesman for the Sydney branch of the Muslim Hizb ut-Tahrir, a thorough but unfriendly account of which you may read here. According to Wikipedia, “The party is banned in many Arab countries, but not the more liberal Sharjah, or the UAE, Lebanon and Yemen; it is also banned throughout the former Soviet Union states of Central Asia, and in Germany. It operates legally in most Western nations, and survived a ban in Australia after clearance from the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. On August 5, 2005, Tony Blair announced the British government’s intention to ban the group in the United Kingdom.” Note, then, the organisation is not illegal in Australia but is still “of interest”.

A recent article on khilafah.com says:

Hizb ut-Tahrir’s aim, as summarised in their publication, is ‘to resume the Islamic way of life and to convey the Islamic da’wah (invitation) to the world. This objective means bringing Muslims back to living an Islamic way of life in Dar al-Islam and in an Islamic society such that all of life’s affairs in society are administered according to the Shari’ah rules, and the viewpoint in it is the halal and the haram under the shade of the Islamic State, i.e. Khilafah State. That state is the one in which Muslims appoint a Khalifah and give him the bay’ah to listen and obey on condition that he rules according to the Book of Allah (swt) and the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (saw) and on condition that he conveys Islam as a message to the world through da’wah and jihad.’…

Though Hizb ut-Tahrir is a political party [in Bangladesh], they do not accept any conventional political process. Parliamentary democracy is not acceptable in their system. Though, election as a process is acceptable, elected lawmakers formulating laws to govern a country is not acceptable in the Hizb ut-Tahrir’s final stage: ‘establishing government’. Now the obvious question arises: how then do we establish government?

We do not believe in violence. We have condemned all terrorist activity in the country [Bangladesh in this case] and abroad. We are presently spreading the vision of Hizb ut-Tahrir among the public. We are also engaging in dialogue with society’s opinion-making figures as they can influence a greater number of people,’ explains Mohiuddin. On the issue of taking power, he replies: ‘That is the third stage. We believe that by the time we have substantial members and a critical mass of sympathisers who agree to our cause, there will be pressure on the state machinery to follow suit. In such a scenario, the culmination of populist support and key opinion-makers on our side, we shall be take power and form a Khilafah state.’

OK, the students involved, some of whom I know, are not threatening individuals, and are all very concerned and very intelligent; the appeal to people of their age is no doubt parallel to the appeal to others of fundamentalist Christianity, or extreme left politics. It is an expression of idealism, a reaction to a world that they in their fresh vision would like to put right. Such youth movements and motivation are not new.

But there is cause for concern, don’t you think, in the current state of the world, for the students’ own welfare as much as for anything else.

See also The Battle for Islam, and, with what happened after Cronulla in mind, I refer you to this entry from December 2005:

Since I am at work today, I dropped in at lunchtime on the Islamic Students’ Society. They have had the occasional bit of controversy around them, as you may see above. I was interested to see what they, as intelligent teenage Muslim boys, felt about Cronulla and all that.

The gangs like the one(s) that have been causing trouble for years in Cronulla they utterly reject. “Leb arseholes.” (They mean of course those indulging in antisocial behaviour in groups in public. None of these young Muslims I spoke to today could be accused of bad manners, inconsideration, insensitivity, racism or sexism. But then they are confident, intelligent, and genuinely religious.) “Some of them are really bad people.” (That from a boy who knows the Lakemba/Campsie/Punchbowl area well.) As much to do with Islam as the Hells’ Angels are to do with Christianity. Definitely not practitioners of Islam. “They worry us as much as they worry you.”…

* Unfortunately this is not possible, as the relevant entries are casualties of the Diary-X Crash of 2006! However, I have been able to rescue one: Retreat from the Global: 11 March 2004 which tells you about “Ali”, who “was born in Pakistan — in fact he told me in Year Seven that he still spoke and read Urdu (and one or two other languages) and could still recall a three storey red house he lived in in Islamabad as a small child.” He belonged to “one of the largest ‘Islamic fundamentalist’ movements in the world, and much bigger than Al Qaeda.” I learned quite a bit that day.

This could be worth revisiting:

See also my posts Everyone has an opinion about Islam…, Irfan Yusuf’s book review and his response to a response, Is that all there is? And how to remember 9/11 constructively…, and an American I admire re Charles Notess.

At the same time I really don’t buy all of Mohamad Tabbaa’s opinion piece in today’s Herald. I really do welcome this development:

MUSLIM leaders in Sydney have broken ranks with their international counterparts to say there should be no more protests against the anti-Islamic film that has sparked violent riots around the world.

After a “historic” three-hour crisis meeting in Lakemba on Monday night, the leaders of 25 Muslim organisations united for the first time yesterday to say they would not endorse even peaceful demonstrations after the violent scenes that occurred in the city on Saturday, which they say were worse than the riots at Cronulla in 2005. But the historic alliance is already fraying at the edges, with segments of the Muslim community refusing to participate and some protesters vowing to ignore the orders.

Sheikh Feiz Mohammad, an extremist figure who has been linked to the protests, and Hizb ut-Tahrir, a radical organisation whose annual conference last Sunday forced the protest to be moved a day earlier, were not invited to the meeting.

A message from Sheikh Jamil el-Biza, a Wollongong youth leader travelling in Lebanon, began circulating, saying he was “deeply saddened” that Muslims were apologising to police and that protesters would be rewarded by Allah.

The head of the Lebanese Muslim Association, Samier Dandan, who co-ordinated the meeting of leaders, conceded that the Muslim community had failed to engage with the disaffected young men who turned violent on Saturday.

Calling for an end to the protests, Silma Ihram, a board member of the Australian Muslim Women’s Association, said: “To be honest, this film is not worth it.

“We don’t believe it is productive. What is it going to achieve?”…

Yes, I too am frustrated and annoyed, to put it mildly, by that message from some jerk from Wollongong**. But I can’t stand bigots, ANY bigots, as I have said here again and again. The hot line to God was shut down years ago, mate, and all you are hearing is your own voice echoing in an empty skull.

And sometimes a picture really does say more than a thousand words.

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Show of unity … supporters of Ahmed Elomar, who was refused bail on charges of affray following protests in the city on Saturday, leaving Central Local Court in Sydney yesterday. Photo: Wolter Peeters SMH

I don’t see that photo as any kind of general representation of Islam. I do see one of Sydney’s sadly too familiar nodes of social stress – albeit over against the overwhelming success Sydney has shown in living its cultural diversity.

Next day

Aside from my own follow-up which looks more at the implications of my last sentence above, see Paul Sheehan and Matthew da Silva on Paul Sheehan. See also Irfan Yusuf.

…Thankfully we now have spokespeople who can speak without interpreters. But the rhetoric of “we condemn this” needs to change.

Why not mock the mockers? When Newsweek recently published a front-page story on “Muslim Rage”, it promoted it on Twitter with the hashtag #MuslimRage. Visit that hashtag today and you will find lots of people poking fun at the idea.

Humour can sometimes take you much further than self-righteous condemnation.

22 September

See on * the creep We Should Welcome Wilders With Open Arms.

Update 27-28 September

** Check the comment thread. The “jerk from Wollongong” may have been verballed. Indeed, he isn’t really a jerk at all, even if I may not agree with everything he says. I still feel that the stance taken by quite a few prominent Muslims after the events in Sydney was a good one, which led to no repetition the following weekend — despite the reservations Jamil has about that. Needless to say I accept Jamil’s word that he in no way condoned violence and was misquoted.

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7 thoughts on “I really wanted to ignore Paul Sheehan today

  1. Hi. Neil this is the ‘jerk’ from wollongong. Just wanted to say that I was a little amazed how a person who takes so much time replying and blogging about recent events in the media couldn’t have had a little more ‘fair go’ in your reporting style. Just to say that if some second grade jernos from smh write a piece doesn’t mean what they have written is correct. Just to clarify I said that it saddens me to see fellow Muslims apologies to police and media before the facts have been made apparent. And when I said may Allah reward those who protested against the disrespectful film. I did not mention in anyway that I condone violent acts on the contrary I said in the post on my Facebook page that smh misqouted and misrepresented that I believe that more imams and leaders should have been at the protest to handle any issues that might answer sadly occurred. Either way I know what I say won’t change the way people think of Muslims in general but I just wanted to make my point clear. Regards jamil el-biza.

  2. Paul Sheehan pretty much repeats his arguments in the recent article discussed on Loon Pond today,

    As usual, Sheehan uses Wilders as a chance to stick in the boot to multiculturalism, boat people, the Labor government, Al Grassby, the way the rabbit-like Muslims are outbreeding the west, and all the usual views which will in due course turn up on Storm Front’s website with hearty approval.

    Of all the nonsense, it’s this little outburst that caught the pond’s eye:

    Wilders is an elected member of parliament, has never been convicted of a crime and is an outspoken defender of pluralism, democracy, feminism and freedom of speech. He believes these bedrock liberal values are being eroded by a steady, incremental challenge from Muslims in Holland.

    Not once does Sheehan mention that Wilders’ party copped a pasting in the last election, and that the Dutch themselves have in bulk turned away from his wild-eyed assortment of rabid raving right wing prejudices, not just in the matter of Islamics breeding like rabbits but in relation to Wilders’ attitude to the Euro and his desire to bring back the guilder. It was Wilders who brought on the elections and Wilders’ party which copped the bucketing.

    To present Wilders as a hapless persecuted liberal is a bit like proposing that Hitler should be given a pass because he was a dog-loving vegetarian.

    Sheehan would have mounted a better argument if he’d acknowledged that Wilders was a wild-eyed right wing ratbag, but despite this, should still be allowed into Australia to spread a little right wing poison and bile, with Cory Bernardi’s full approval …

    Then, as Wilders did in the UK, when he overturned a ban on him entering that country, we can understand that when Wilders calls Muhammad a barbarian, a mass murderer and a pedophile, he’s not exactly being a liberal.

    For more information on Wilders, visit his wiki here, a more reliable source than the one-eyed Sheehan, who manages to shoot his argument in the foot in the way of an Alan Jones. What a surprise …

    Saves me the bother.

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