Politicians and political analysts in Australia like to call Australian democracy (and Western democracy in general) as “participatory democracy”. The term wants to say that “if you participate in the processes, your voice will be heard. If you do not participate, you will be ignored”.
I will not try to discuss how deceptive this term is, as the democracy in real term should mean to listen and represent every citizen not only the ones who have certain capabilities and expertise. The term “participatory democracy” would indeed refute any claim of politicians to represent constituents, if they listen only to “active members” of the society.
So in reality, our democracy is democracy for “big mouths”. So if you keep whinging and making big lies loudly and publicly, they will listen to you. Even if you represent no one. And to silence you and win you to their side, they will give you some bribes in form of “grants and community funding”.
All this comes with big risks. Mostly opportunists will exercise this kind of democracy. This will mean that media and authorities will listen to the wrong people, reward wrong people and try to consult wrong people. This will result in resources being wasted and stories will be reported wrongly.
Let me give some examples.
Among Muslim communities, few extremists and few opportunists came forward for the last few decades and started to shout foul about Islamophobia and about “ignoring of Muslims’ interests and needs”. Consequently, government, opposition parties, security agencies, media and other authorities actively tried to appease these “big mouths” by engaging them and give them prominence they do not deserve and do not have in the communities.
For the last decades, the Lebanese Moslem Association was claiming day and night that they represent ALL Muslims. They were on the frontline demanding engaging its officials, as sign of engaging Muslims. And they were given a lot of prominence they do not deserve and have no right to claim.
From its name, Lebanese Moslem Association should not claim to represent Non-Lebanese Moslems (who are the overwhelming majority of Muslims). It also cannot represent Non-Sunni Lebanese (many indications point to the fact that LMA does not recognise non-Sunnis to be Muslims at all). So, if we exclude Non-Lebanese Sunnis, and Non-Sunni Lebanese, who does the LMA really represent?
So what are the risks with this “big-mouth” democracy?
Lebanese Moslem Association was representing extreme version of Islam in the last 2 or 3 decades. By claiming to represent ALL Muslims, it is very easy for the racists and Islamophobes to step up their Anti-Muslim campaigns by saying “Listen to the Muslims’ representatives what they say about this and that”.
Also, by authorities accepting that LMA represents Muslims in this country, they will consult only them and engage with them and so claim later that “everything is ok, we listened to Muslims and we have acted”.
This is what was happening in this country for the last few decades. Few fake organisations who are mainly follow and adopt extreme version of Islam were on the frontline trying to represent the Muslims. And this was one of the main reasons we have currently high radicalisation and high Islamophobia.
Some can argue that “we understand the argument about LMA and “big mouth democracy” causing high Islamophobia, but how they caused high radicalisation?”
The answer is very simple. Imagine that ordinary Muslim is hearing day after day from media and authorities that LMA and other extreme organisation represent Islam and Muslims. And at the same time, he/she is listening during Friday ceremonies and media speeches by LMA (and other extreme groups) representatives vending all kinds of extreme preaching and messages? Of course they will start to believe that this is the real Islam. So the brainwashing and recruitment will be easier.
When an ordinary Muslim hears from our authorities and media that LMA represents ALL Muslims. And LMA confirmed this lies. Then listens to the LMA religious spokesperson’s fatwa against saying “Merry Christmas” to Christians. Would not he start to believe that this is the real Islam?
And what did the government do to discipline these extremist groups?
After all extreme activities by LMA, government granted the organisation more than $2,750,000.00 to spread “harmony in the society” and to “empower marginalised religious and ethnic groups”.
Some of the tax-payers money was spent on broadcasting lectures of extremists and terrorists which lead to brainwash more Muslims and urge them to join terrorist groups like Al Qaeda.
Then our authorities did not stop on this. As LMA could have successfully deceived ALL political parties and authorities that they represent ALL Muslims in this country, governments started to compete who will grant LMA with more money (public bribes in the name of public funding for community projects) to win the Muslims votes that LMA supposedly controls.
Since mid 2011 until mid 2014, LMA was active in brainwashing Muslim youths under the banner of “supporting Syrian revolution”. Every Friday prayer ceremony will be focussed on Syrian “revolution” and the needs for community members to do all they can to support the “mujahedeen” (we discovered later that these mujahedeen are in fact AL Qaeda and ISIS terrorists). LMA was very active in supporting activities and fundraising to Syrian “revolution”. LMA was active in organising “tributes for fallen mujahideen (including killed terrorist Mustapha AL Majzoub)”.
With this track history of participating in brainwashing our youth, recently we learnt that the government has granted LMA money to “Share Humanity” as part of government’s “de-radicalisation plan”. What kind of humanity they can share by issuing fatwa against Christmas, paying respect and tribute to killed terrorists and in broadcasting lectures of extremists and terrorists?
I am shocked. And I am sure many of you are shocked too. But others are not only shocked. They used this to prove that ALL Muslims support terrorism.
What makes things worse is that our authorities actually support some part of “big mouth” democracy, but they do not support other parts.
When many of community members exercised their right to participate in “big mouth” democracy, the authorities were quick to ask them to keep silent. When early in 2012 some Muslims tried to say “not in our name” in their opposition to the so-called Syrian revolution, authorities and media either ignored the attacks on them or directly asked them to be silent for their “safety”.
So, it seems that the best description of our democracy is “friendly big mouths democracy”.
By the way, I need to mention here that after the death of prophet Mohamed, Muslims were never united but by sword with rivers of blood. How could anyone believe that Samier Danden and his LMA have more convincing power to unite ALL Muslims, than all Muslim leaders had in the last 15 centuries?
Not in my name. Not as Muslim. And not as Australian.
It is our job to recover our hijacked democracy.