Thursday, October 26, 2006

Why mixing religion with politics again: Sheikh Hilaly's comments should not be gone on air?

In the context of the media circus about Al Hilaly's comments sparked by The Australian today, we want to put facts into context:

٭ There are no justifications for the violence inflicted on any rape victims. The perpetrators of such violence should be tried and punished accordingly.
٭ In a secular democracy like Australia, it is unacceptable to interfere in people's choice of their dress or the way they choose to go in their life, as long as it does not harm others.
٭ The issues of criminal justice, defamation and inciting hate and violence should be dealt with in the courtrooms, and not in the media by creating a circus that will interfere with the natural justice.

And here we want to ask basic questions:
٭ Why was a religious ceremony blown out of context and leaked to the media?
٭ Why did this happen at this particular time, and after a month of its delivery?
٭ What is the role of Howard's government in this leak and circus, taking into consideration the unacceptable remarks of Howard and his ministers about Islam and Muslims and their wish to change the Muslim “leadership” to a more “Liberal-friendly” one?
٭ Why did Pru Goward, the Liberal candidate who failed to be preselected for Epping seat because she is not far right-extremist, enter the debate in such provocative way?

And we can conclude:
٭ There is a fishy conspiracy here by the Liberal right-extremists to blow things out of its context to achieve electoral gains. As since when in a secular democracy, security agencies and media are spying on religious ceremonies? And why only on a Muslim ceremony? And why dealing with this ceremony in the media instead of appropriate channels, if there is no fishy conspiracy to use all these for electoral victories?
٭ The Al Hilaly's comments, while highly inappropriate, could not amount to inciting hate or rape. He was stating his opinion about events concerning some members of the community. He was not urging Muslim youth to rape any “uncovered meat”, but was urging them to stick to Islamic code of dress and behavior.
٭ By the same token as Al Hilaly cannot direct Australian women how to act, Muslims have the right to promote socially conservative code of dress and behavior according to their religion. As far as there is not incitement of hate or violence, this right should be respected for all (including Muslims).
٭ The Pru Goward attempt to match the Liberal extremists to win a candidacy somewhere by demanding deportation of Al Hilaly is not more than a pathetic move. Pru Goward should go and read the immigration law, principles of natural justice and principles of separation of powers in the secular democracy. She appointed herself as prosecutor, jury and Judge. She even gave instant judgment before looking into the evidence or heard the “accused”. Then Al Hilaly is an Australian citizen and, if convicted of inciting hate, should be sentenced in Australia and not sent overseas. We did not hear any suggestions that the “white” criminals should be deported and sent back to England.

We would like to stress here that this media circus about Al Hilaly's comments are not more than another episode from the Federal government to interfere in Muslim community affairs to further marginalise and criminalise the whole community on one hand. And it is another move to enforce Liberal-friendly “leadership” on the community that will work hand-in-hand with the government agenda to dehumanize the community to legitimise the neo-conservative attacks on Islam and Muslims.

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