Sep 17, 2012

Australian Muslims go from Back To the Future to Groundhog Day.

Just when you thought we could move on to other challenges (like, you know, the survival of the planet), it's Back to the Future on "the Muslim issue". Someone needs to tell th

Shakira Hussein

Writer and academic in multiculturalism

Just when you thought we could move on to other challenges (like, you know, the survival of the planet), it's Back to the Future on "the Muslim issue". Someone needs to tell the director that franchise is getting stale. Raids under the anti-terrorism legislation in Melbourne last week, ugly scenes during a protest against an anti-Muslim film yesterday, us-and-them language from politicians, Muslim women conscripted to play therapist to a nation in the grip of moral panic - actually, it's Back to the Future meets Groundhog Day. Does anyone really need to say that getting young children to hold signs that call for beheading is A Bad Thing? Or that violent clashes between protesters and police are likewise A Bad Thing? Or that no community ought to be held collectively responsible for the actions of a small minority? - and etc etc etc. Doesn't all of that go without saying? Well, no, apparently it doesn't, so the Prime Minister and the Premier and the NSW Police Commissioner have all issued motherhood-and-apple-pie statements, laced with alarmist nationalism. The protest was "not the Australian way" (Gillard), "the unacceptable face of multiculturalism" (O'Farrell), undertaken by "extremist criminals" (Scipione). To call this a disproportionate and racialised response does not in any way trivialise the ugliness of the scenes on the streets of Sydney or excuse the violence committed. I was as repulsed by those scenes as anyone else - but why do I feel the need to say that? Again, shouldn't it go without saying? I've done my share (and a bit extra) of "denouncing extremism" over the past decade-and-a-bit, but I'm starting to question the rationale. If it's having any effect at all, it may be communicating the opposite message to that intended. The Muslim women whose "call for calm" was profiled in The Age are all personal friends of mine, and I fully endorse and share their sentiments. And yet I wonder whether their (and my) efforts have crossed the line from futile and are into the realm of counter-productive. From the point of view of non-Muslims, by feeling the need to dissociate ourselves from "troublemakers", we are (counter-intuitively) taking responsibility for their actions. And from the point of view of those Muslims whose experience of racism and vilification has left them feeling marginalised and alienated, our need to absolve ourselves of responsibility for crimes that we did not ourselves commit can only heighten their sense that Muslims are held to a different standard of behaviour to other Australians. So let me say some other statements that should really go without saying. Gillard, more than most politicians, should know that as abhorrent as Saturday's protest was, there was nothing unAustralian about its ugliness. As an (Australian-born Muslim) friend observed, actually, it's very Australian. That doesn't mean we should honour it as part of "our" grand national tradition, but nor should we regard its perpetrators as external to "our" history and society. Given the damning television footage, I wouldn't argue with Scipioine's description of some of the protesters as "criminals", although I note that this verdict preempts  the court process. But "extremist" here is code for "Muslim" - the (alleged) crimes committed were repulsive and unacceptable but they were not particularly "extreme" by the standard of actions to come before the legal system. Nor should we just dismiss allegations of police misjudgment and/or misconduct without appropriate investigation. We're caught in a no-win situation here. We've repeated that "the extremists" don't represent us so many times that it's threadbare script. We need to come up with some new lines, but I'm still groping for them. It's exhausting. Someone wake me up when Groundhog Day is over.    

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34 thoughts on “Australian Muslims go from Back To the Future to Groundhog Day.

  1. Owen Gary


    James your ar-se is calling time to disappear.

  2. JamesK

    You’re an anti-semitic extreme leftist conspiracy theorist and probable truther, Owen.

    You’re a Western culture/classical liberal values loathing nutter.

    Your denial of reality and truth combined with your offensive studied ignorance is simultaneously farcical and offensive to decency.

    I wear your condemnation as a badge of honour, Owen

    You, your poisonous beliefs, your poisonous conspiracies and your sickening ignorance combined with your indifference or disdain for the sacrifices of your countrymen deserves nothing but contempt.

    You’re too much even for the lefty Crikey commentariat who aren’t defending your filth

    Stalin is your kinda guy, Owen

    But to Uncle Joe, Ahmadinejad, the Iranian mullahs and radical islamists like the blind sheikh, nasty chumps like you are merely ‘useful idiots’.

    Owen, you make Neville Chamberlain look like an prescient sceptic

    But Chamberlain was just foolishly naive and, unlike you, did not propagate the execrable.

  3. Owen Gary


    Its a good job you can hide behind your keyboard, ive always found sewer mouths to be the most gutless of wonders.

  4. JamesK

    Have a nice day James.


    What a disgusting specimen of dimwitted anti-semitic conspiracy theorist you are Owen.

    I wonder if the situation of the above was reversed and it was our soldiers & citizens copping this treatment & then publicised as a freak show how would we react?

    And what a superciliously stupid hypothesis to posit.

    Who cares about the 38 Australian soldiers have been killed and 240 wounded in Afghanistan or the 20 civilians killed and 129 seriously injured in the Bali bombings which targeted Australians or the 52 civilians and the over 700 more injured in London on 7/7 or on 9/11 the nearly 3,000 people dead including all 227 civilians aboard the four planes?

    Oh wait George Bush planned that with his banker Jooo mates, eh Owen-the-repugnant?

    Owen, you are a loathsome treasonous little twerp

  5. Owen Gary

    Please do point out point in reference to what part of your slander you want a rebuttal on, & view the posts once more to see who is highlighted as a nasty imbecile in terms of personal attacks.

    Have a nice day James.

  6. JamesK

    This speaks volumes on your personality, morals & understanding


    Personal abuse aplenty but neither a rebuttal nor a positive argument in sight.

    What a smug thoroughly ignorant and intellectually stunted little man you proudly demonstrate yourself to be, Owen.

    You nasty twerp

  7. Owen Gary


    Your rants indicate your intellect, & your viewpoint of a rightardt (born to rule) past world of which you just cannot let go. As far as morals go you appear to think as you state:-

    “our morally and intellectually superior classical liberal Western culture”

    This speaks volumes on your personality, morals & understanding, just the rhetoric of hate really, like so many others of your ilk casting illusions of their self importance and a viewpoint filled with arrogance. Whether you like it or not we are truly a global society now and equality & understanding is the only way forward. Your philosophy of hate hopefully will go the way of the dinosaurs.

    Anything that is inclusive of society is typically termed radical by a clown like yourself.
    A piece of friendly advice:- When using the toilet next, be sure to hold onto the safety rail for fear of disappearing up your own ar-se.

  8. JamesK

    Always keep one eye on the ball & never fail to ask yourself that little question:- WHY

    What a self-loathing self-deluding poisonous leftist appeaser weenie Owen Gary is.

    Individual liberty is anathema to leftist twits like Owen.

    Their pathetic lives revolve around telling others what to do and how to behave.

    Like the radical islamists

    It’s no wonder Islamic radicals threaten the West when morally decrepit idiots like Owen spout such utterly inane malodorous bilge which is contrary to the very best in our morally and intellectually superior classical liberal Western culture.

    Ultimatum to US: ‘Criminalise blasphemy or lose consulate’

  9. Owen Gary

    Whilst the mendacity machines would have us believe its just about a video, I think it fair to say American foreign policy with the aid of Mossad has had this cauldron on perpetual boil for quite a while.

    *Prisoners in Abu Gharib tortured & then publicised world wide.
    *Enemy combatants urinated upon then also publicised.
    *Continual slaughter of Afghani people.
    *U.S sponsored puppet regimes in the middle east.

    There are many more examples but I’m sure you don’t need reminding. I wonder if the situation of the above was reversed and it was our soldiers & citizens copping this treatment & then publicised as a freak show how would we react?

    It is now cleverly beeing sidetracked in the media as religious extreemism, we must always keep our eye on the ball and not fall hookline & sinker for the distraction. This leads me to believe something much larger is afoot in the near future like a false flag event in which the same puppeteers of the media will point the finger back in retrospect.

    I have also briefly touched on the economic aspect of the American foreign policy in which we here in Australia are always suffering as are other nations, we will soon cop more of the same with the coming (Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreements) which will no doubt be sold to us as cream topped American pie, instead of the mouldy can of worms that it actually is.

    Always keep one eye on the ball & never fail to ask yourself that little question:- WHY

  10. CML

    There is absolutely no proof that ANY religious dogma has a scintilla of truth about it. However, I accept that some people will “believe” all this nonsense. That doesn’t give any of them the right to (a) engage in violent activity on behalf of their particular fairy story, or (b) insist that anyone else has to believe it.
    The overwhelming scale of death and destruction caused by religion, throughout history, is mind-blowing – and still it continues. Surely, in this day and age, we should be educating people to discard such childish ideas?
    Was it Karl Marx who said, “Religion is the opium of the masses”? That about sums it up! (Whoever said it!!)

  11. Aliar Jones

    Oh come now Howtard, you’re the last person in the world to be lecturing anyone about self-absorption.

  12. Howard,B.

    Whether she’s writing about white kids getting gunned-down by one of their own in Norway, or a swarm of swarthy, bearded bigots demanding the death of others in Sydney, Shakira Hussein can always be relied upon to remind us all who the real victim is in such events: Shakira Hussein.

    I look forward to further manifestations of Shakira’s self-absorbed identity complex come next such incident.

  13. Steve777

    I think the root cause of much of the religious violence flows from a conviction on the part of adherents that they are absolutely right without the slightest possibility of being wrong, with those opposing them being not only wrong but evil. It’s not just Islam. Think Christianity a few centuries ago – the Inquisition, the Conquistadors, the 30 Years War. And not just religion – think any number of ‘isms’ – Nationalism, Communism, r a c ism. It must be a great feeling to ‘know’ with 100% that you are absolutely right – I can’t imagine how it feels in spite of 13 years in the Catholic education system all those years ago. But certainty causes an awful lot of damage on so many levels. Islamic extremism is one of the more egregious example in today’s world, but there are many others.

    Religion need not be the enemy of humanity but doubt is certainly the friend of common sense and progress.

  14. jeebus

    Shakira, western countries have fought long and hard to claw their way out of the religious dark ages. There was a time not so long ago when fundamentalist Christianity was intertwined with the governments of the west, with both working in concert to crush freedom of thought and individual expression.

    Even in today’s world, fundamentalist Christianity tries to reassert itself frequently. Ireland’s government passed anti-blasphemy laws in 2010. The Vatican fights against birth control in overpopulated countries. America’s government banned stem cell research under Bush. The Catholics controlling our Liberal party still fume and bluster against gay marriage, even though the Netherlands legalised it back in 2001 to no detriment.

    This secular, liberal democracy that most Australians love and cherish was only made possible by the European renaissance, where enlightened thinkers rose up and fought back against Christianity, hammering its sharp edges into more benign form.

    Islam has not yet gone through a global renaissance, and the spiritual heart of Islam (Saudi Arabia) has made few moves to hammer down the sharp edges of fundamentalism. Until it does, we cannot say Islam has entered the modern era.

    Perhaps you see it as an unfair burden to carry, Shakira, but I personally believe that if you choose to associate yourself with Islam then it IS your responsibility to speak out LOUDLY when other Muslims commit violent actions in the name of your belief system, otherwise they are speaking for you.

    I would give the same advice to anyone who chooses to associate with any group in which some of its members commit violent acts in the name of that group.

    In the words of Edmund Burke, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

  15. shepherdmarilyn

    I wonder if the nutbags who hate muslims so much have ever even met or talked to or had a cuppa with one.

  16. andrew36

    The only raving nutbag and racist around here Marilyn is you (well actually we are on the crikey site so that may not be technically true) you seriously need to get some help and start taking stronger depression medication because what your taking isnt working, unless of course being a paranoid raving nutbag is part of the side effects of said medication.

  17. CML

    Get it right Marilyn – It is not RACISM – it is ANTI-RELIGIONISM! You don’t even understand the meaning of the word!!!
    What do Moslems in Saudi Arabia and Indonesia or Turkey have in common? It certainly isn’t RACE. What a stupid rant.

  18. shepherdmarilyn

    We have more extremists on Sydney streets every night.

  19. drsmithy

    But “extremist” here is code for “Muslim” – the (alleged) crimes committed were repulsive and unacceptable but they were not particularly “extreme” by the standard of actions to come before the legal system.

    I’d call anyone who thought it appropriate to participate in (let alone organise) a protest with pretty clear undercurrents of violence as a reaction against a harmless video, to be quite worthy of an “extremist” label.

  20. shepherdmarilyn


    Oh dear, and while Scippi the clown was ranting and Gillard and Abbott were spewing out their racist bile it was actually muslims who turned in and reported the ugly things to the police.

    And as usual all the ranting nut cases blame the victims.

    There were no protests anywhere else in Australia because we don’t have wall to wall racist pollies continually ranting at us.

  21. CML

    @ SM – That is only my opinion. You are welcome to yours. Here are a couple of reasons why I think this way:

    1. Last week it was reported that four Moslem people were arrested in NSW because they were involved in the genital mutilation of two female children, aged six and seven years. Probably the tip of the iceberg – how many instances of this behaviour go unreported? If you wish to support this type of uncivilised behaviour, condoned by a religion, then I suggest there is something wrong with your morals and thought processes.
    2. For decades, the upstanding heirarchy of the Catholic, Anglican and, no doubt, other so-called Christian religions, have been s+xually assualting children. Judging by the length of time this has been going on, it is fair to say that this behaviour has also been condoned by these various religions. And you think it clever to call me “patronising”?

    If I had my way, we would ban ALL religions, because, as I said before, they are just organisations which purport to help people, when they actually do untold damage, particularly to children. All the fairy stories, regardless of the religion involved, are just a cover for brutality of one kind or another.

  22. JamesK

    Again, shouldn’t it go without saying? I’ve done my share (and a bit extra) of “denouncing extremism” over the past decade-and-a-bit, but I’m starting to question the rationale. If it’s having any effect at all, it may be communicating the opposite message to that intended.

    Well there’s certainly few holier-than-thou Shakira.

    But actually that is the point.

    The big criticism since 9/11 is that so few moderate Muslim leaders denounce radical islamists, salafists and the extremists.

    Did you denounce Hilally as a disgrace to Islam, for instance?

    You may have, I don’t know.

    The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils appointed him Mufti of Australia in 1988.

    The Council of Islamic Jurisprudence and Research reappointed Hilaly as Grand Mufti on 10 June 2007, however, he declined to be re-appointed.

    It’s hardly a stellar record.

    And the numbers protesting suggest more than a tiny minority raging against – not a movie because no one has seen it (if it even actually exists) – but an internet you-tube clip from a kitchen production.

    What are moderate Muslims going to finally do to clean up the appalling image of their religion throughout the civilised world?

    What they’ve always done?


  23. shepherdmarilyn

    CML, how patronising of you.

  24. shepherdmarilyn

    Venise, do you mean we should have looked at actual reports and facts about
    WMD not being in Iraq before we blew the country to bits and slaughtered upward of 1 million people?

  25. CML

    @ Anne P – Are you saying that because YOU didn’t see any banners, violence by protesters etc., the cameras l+ed and it didn’t happen? So easy to blame the police, who were just doing their job and trying to contain what could have become an ugly and dangerous situation. No doubt you would have been the first to complain if you, or one of your children, was injured.

    @ Phen – I agree. Am also concerned at the author’s cavalier use of the term “racist”. Surely the term is self-explanatory – it is hatred/fear of one particular RACE of people. Here we are talking about Moslems/Islam, which is a RELIGION composed of members from many different “races”. Now you can argue that anti-religionists are equally as bad (I don’t think they are), but they are NOT racists.
    A true atheist (like me), abhors ALL religions because most of them cause harm to the participants, who in turn want to harm others. If you are black, purple, green or brindle, follow no religion and live a good life, you are welcome in my country. Otherwise, forget it!!

  26. Anne Cooper

    What’s ‘Un-Australian’ about it is that any violence and exhortations to injure people of a different opinion or religion is contrary to the Australian tolerant, democratic liberal multicultural way. And whats wrong with saying that? For gods sake, ( whatever you understand that to mean) we enjoy the safe prosperous and tolerant society not through dumb luck but because we adopted/inherited a clunky but workable system and are vigilant against threats to it.
    So yes, it needed to be said. Stop whining. An appalling thing happened yesterday, a call to violence by indoctrinated halfwits. Sure, its a warning – ‘if you dont like it, bugger off, but be aware that we are watching.’ So my thanks to all who called it for what it is.

  27. Phen

    Its really not a massive leap to conclude that when significant numbers of a minority group act in the way seen on the weekend, that this reflects very badly on the minority group as a whole.

    Feigning surprise at that response isn’t entirely convincing.

  28. Anne Picot

    I witnessed three separate stages of the Muslim rally in Sydney on Saturday;
    1) the rally outside the MLC tower (which houses the US consulate) in Martin Place;
    2) the march past Pitt St Mall in Market Street about half an hour later; and the stand-off in Hyde Park between 2.50 and 3.30.
    I did not see any of the violence reported, I did see the offensive placards and I did see more police in the park than I have seen in Sydney CBD since APEC. I saw 2 lines of police on the steps of the MLC building holding off the crowd at Martin Place after they had closed the complex. I saw police hassling people watching the march down Market St to get off the footpaths although the marchers, including many women with small children, were in the street. In Hyde Park I saw a long line of police, some of whom were weilding long batons east of the rally crowd; I saw 120-150 maximum men praying on the pathway and another long formation of police, which was several lines deep, on the western side of the men praying. I did not see any police talking to or attempting to talk to the leaders or speakers who were addressing the crowd. There was a threatening and tense atmosphere which to my mind was generated by the police numbers – comfortably 2-1 more than the rally participants by this time – and by the lack of any communication apparent between the rally and the police. I was afraid the situation was going to end in a violent confrontation as the police attempted to force dispersal or grab rally participants as they tried to leave. I did not witness it as I left at 3.30. From what I witnessed the police response to the rally was excessive and confronting and not conducive to public order.

  29. izatso?

    might be that, while Islam, and Muslims generally can have and do hold great respect for others, their Prophet stands at the centre of that respect. They themselves are ridiculed when their Prophet is ridiculed. How can you feel when it seems so many are ridiculing your Father, your Mother, your entire Family. Mohammed IS their ‘Father’. If someone were to hold my father up to worldwide ridicule, I should go slightly ballistic too you should not go there. But as we see, it it too easily agendered.

  30. Matt Hardin

    A couple of things:

    1. It was mentioned this morning on Radio National that the police were looking for the source of the text message that apparently prompted the protest. If that person is prosecuted then Alan Jones and the ring leaders of the Cronulla riots also need to be prosecuted.

    2. The ugly scenes on Saturday parallel those in Egypt etc and have the same confusing aspect to me i.e. the anger is badly focussed. One small group in America produced a film that Muslims find offensive yet the anger is directed at the whole west as if we are all to blame. In Egypt, the German and British embassies were attacked for goodness sake!

    3. This sort of random violence and anger does nothing but reflect badly on a group that self-identifies as a community. It is incumbent on the community leaders to explicitly come out and renounce the idiots. Our elected leaders did it after the Cronulla riots. I was pleased to hear Muslim leaders from Victoria and New South Wales making it explicit that the violent do not speak for them. Contrary to Ms Hussein’s opinion I think that it helps and it needs to be said every time. It certainly shuts up the arm chair racists who say “See their leaders condone violence – they are violent”. I do understand though that it would be tiring to say the least.

  31. Venise Alstergren

    All the same, I’d like to know why Muslims throughout the world don’t take the trouble to look at something before rioting about it.

  32. izatso?

    no me neither but what are the odds of the author of the chaff bag scenario getting beheaded …… ? what are the odds that he is laughing at muslim rage this very moment ?

  33. Steve777

    I didn’t see anyone in the news footage of the demonstration carrying a sign saying that people who offend Islam should be put in a chaff bag and dumped at sea.

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