There are many contenders for the Basil Fawlty ‘Don’t mention the Mosque’ award, which has been unofficially running ever since Farhad Jabar nipped home from school a fortnight ago, threw on a black robe, popped by the local mosque, picked up a gun, and murdered a police accountant, before bellowing out a last prayer praising Allah.
An honourable mention must go to Mohamed Taha, the ABC’s western Sydney reporter, who told viewers, even before the police had issued a statement on the night, that the murder had nothing to do with terrorism. And ABC online stuck bravely to the broadcaster’s narrative that night despite the evidence of our own eyes.
But this pales compared to Peter Lloyd’s effort. On ABC radio’s PM, a full five days after the event, Lloyd leapt over the issue of terrorism as nimbly as a youthful Nadia Comaneci. Early in the report, a friend of Jabar describes the shooter as a ‘really nice and humble kid’ and not ‘that much of a bad person’.
But, Lloyd intones, ‘since Saturday police and politicians have been calling Farhad Khalil Mohammad Jabar something else’. Seemingly loath even to utter the ‘t’ word, Lloyd cuts to NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione saying, ‘We believe his actions were … linked to terrorism’.
But, Lloyd sniffs, that ‘narrative is supported only by the violent execution of a police employee by a teenager expressing disputed phrases before he was gunned down’. According to Lloyd there was ‘no trail that leads to terrorism other than the fact that the teen is a Muslim and his target a seemingly randomly chosen adult male who was leaving the police headquarters at that time of day’.
Indeed, Lloyd revealed, ‘PM has been given an alternative scenario… that the teen was visiting the local mosque at Parramatta not for radicalisation but to avoid school where he’d been bullied’.
In Lloyd’s ‘alternative scenario’ visiting a mosque is no different to visiting a church or a synagogue. And the president of the Muslim Women’s Association agreed, ‘whether we’ve got a mosque, you’ve got a church, you’ve got a synagogue, you’ve got a temple, this always is a symbolic place where you can turn to… a mosque is a safe haven…’
‘He probably had mental health issues’, Lloyd concluded, lamenting that this has not been given ‘fair attention’.
The point of these mental gymnastics is to avoid, at all costs, admitting the link between Islam and Islamism, the fact that lurking in the shadows of a suburban mosque or prayer hall there might be people who, instead of preaching peace, love and understanding, are mixing religious messages with incitement to hatred, murder, anti-Semitism, anti-Western propaganda and world domination.
When it comes to dangerous language, it isn’t the siren song of Islamists that the politically correct have in their sights but former prime minister Tony Abbott.
According to Muslim community leader Dr Jamal Rifi, it was Abbott who had alienated Muslims by talking about ‘Team Australia’ and referring to Isis as a death cult.
‘I believe Malcolm Turnbull will be more mature and insightful and that the government he leads will not fall for such short-minded, unwise use of words’, Dr Rifi said.
Got it? Mention Team Australia and Muslims will refuse to combat Islamist terrorism.
When Premier Mike Baird suggested an audit of prayer groups in public schools, Sheikh Wesam Charkawi told ABC’s The Drum that the Muslim community felt unfairly targeted.
‘Will other faith groups be targeted as well?’ asked Charkawi as if Presbyterian lone wolves were a particularly pressing threat that was being ignored.
‘There’s no evidence whatsoever that teaching religion in schools has led to violent extremism in any way, shape or form’, he insisted, despite the fact that the premier announced the audit after a Year 12 student at Epping Boys High School was reported to be preaching in support of Isis at his school.
Thus, while the ABC’s 7.30 this week scrutinised the unsavoury backgrounds of some of the Bendigo mosque’s opponents, almost no attention has been paid to Australian Islamic Mission (AIM), the group stumping up a cool $3 million to finance it. As it turns out, AIM happily invited Tareq Al Suwaidan to launch a fundraising campaign, a man whose sermons are so violently anti-Semitic that he was banned from attending a Muslim Fair in Belgium last year.
In one sermon Suwaidan said, ‘All the mothers of the Islamic nation – not only Palestinian mothers – should suckle their babies on the hatred of the sons of Zion. We hate them. They are our enemies. We should instill this in the souls of our children, until a new generation arises and wipes them off the face of the earth’.
It’s a message that probably wouldn’t worry the Grand Mufti of Australia. In 2012, he led a delegation of scholars to Gaza, met Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and said, ‘I am pleased to stand on the land of jihad to learn from its sons… we feel like we are on cloud nine’.
The Grand Mufti was another who declined to utter the ‘t’ word in relation to the Parramatta attack and apparently offered no support to Parramatta mosque leader Neil El-Kadomi. Kadomi told Fairfax he got more support from the Anglicans and the Jewish Board of Deputies in the last fortnight and called for a ‘Mufti who can speak English, who is qualified to be a Mufti’.
Freedom of expression and religious freedom are cornerstones of Australian democracy and understandably governments are loath to curb either. But the government had no trouble banning Christian anti-abortionist, Troy Newman, on the flimsiest of pretexts even though there is little evidence that Newman was inciting violence. John Stuart Mill argued that there should be the fullest liberty of expression to push arguments to their logical limits rather than the limits of social embarrassment.
‘The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.’
We do the opposite. Political correctness silences a debate about Islamism, which allows Islamists wolves to prey on Muslim flocks. There is abundant evidence that Islamist hate speech inspires violent crimes.
Yet it is we who are cowed into silence, not the friends of Hamas.
Rebecca Weisser is a freelance writer
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