Monday, August 08, 2005

Hanging Dirty Linen on the Line - Part 1

“Irfan, why are you hanging our dirty linen on their line!”

I have lost count of how many times I have heard this statement being made. Especially now, with Muslims really feeling the pressure over terrorism. It seems everyone is ready to blame Muslims for the acts of a few lunatics. And many Muslims see their institutions as a barrier between themselves and the rest of the broader Australian community.

For some Muslims, public criticism of Muslim community bodies is akin to treachery. It is indicative of a siege mentality in which the Muslim “us” is forever at risk of being overrun by the broader Australian “them”. It perhaps presumes that non-Muslim Australians have sinister or even hostile intentions toward Muslims.

What it does not, however, seek to do is recognise why “they” may not be all that favourably inclined toward “us”. Further, it locks “us” into a marginalised fringe. It creates suspicion and paranoia which drives Muslims to search for conspiracies and other unrealistic explanations.

Already, such conspiracy theories are being rattled off about my not-so-good self. I have had a fairly good run so far in the press. At least four of my articles have been published in the Daily Telegraph, two in the Financial Review, two in the Canberra Times and one in the Sydney Morning Herald.

I have been interviewed twice on Channel 9’s Today Show and once on the prestigious ABC current affairs program Lateline. I have also been interviewed by 5 talkback hosts in Sydney and Canberra.

For some, this is evidence that I am a Freemason or a Zionist agent. After all, a Muslim Australian is not allowed to be published in mainstream media, nor is s/he allowed to be given a fair go by the allegedly Jewish-controlled media. After all, being a lawyer and former Liberal candidate for a safe Labor seat is bad enough.

But my worst crime is that I have dared to speak about internal Muslim community politics. I apparently have a personal agenda and am abusing my role as spokesperson to pursue personal vendettas.

Let’s examine some of the underlying assumptions. Firstly, there is the notion of “internal Muslim community matters”, of “our dirty linen”. There are strong suggestions that the London bombing was the work of locally recruited and trained British Muslim youths. These were not necessarily youths with a history of radical activity (although some did attend training camps in Afghanistan).

We are all familiar with the scenario. Young Muslim kids disillusioned with their community and national leadership. Youth ignored by community organisations and with little outlet for their talents. Their aspirations and ideals are constantly challenged by hypocrisy they see all around them.

These young kids are then recruited by radical organisations. They feel empowered by these fringe groups who encourage them to speak out. And their rhetoric becomes more hostile and extreme.

Many of these young people suffer from all kinds of illnesses, especially untreated depression. It is well known that depressed youngsters are often suicidal. Combine depression and suicidal ideation with radical rhetoric and a bit of military training.

Why do these young people get sucked in by extremist fringe groups? Where are these groups coming from? What is their ideology? Who funds them? How did they end up active and resourced in countries like Australia?

And if a bomb does go off in Sydney or Melbourne, where will law enforcement officials be looking to first? Where will media focus be? Where will the trails lead?

Yes, we know that Muslims are not the only terrorists. After all, we all saw recently images of Israeli Muslims mourning their dead killed by a Jewish terrorist who boarded a bus and opened fire. We also know that this terrorist was part of a wider movement opposed to the dismantlement of heavily fortified Jewish extremist camps in Gaza. We also know that some Australian Jews are supporting and bankrolling this extremist fringe.

But how many Australians would blame Jewish extremists and their Australian backers for a terrorist act? How many associate Jewish chauvinism with suicide bombings? How many Jewish Australians openly espouse the views of Israel’s Jewish Ayatollahs? How many Australian rabbis do we see describing the Jewish terrorist as “a great man”?

Jewish institutions are well-oiled and powerful. And this is not related to any conspiracy or infiltration. It is just plain hard work and a willingness to understand the sources of anti-Jewish prejudice. When Jewish community spokesmen speak, it is in a language and using terms mainstream Australia understands and related to.

What language do Muslim spokespeople speak in? Why is it that we are always embarrassed by what our people say? Why is it that a radical youth like Wasim Dureihi sounds more credible than Sheik Hilali or the President of AFIC or the chairmen of any one of three competing Islamic “pizza” councils in NSW?

Some two weeks ago, the Islamic Council of NSW was approached with a proposal for a media committee to be delegated the role of talking to the press. A list of names was presented. Little was done until the writer decided to publish a few home truths about the dominance of one family on ICNSW affairs.

Now a meeting has been organised. And when will it be? On Thursday 11 August 2005. At what time? 10am.

As a colleague of mine said: “Mate, it looks like only people with workers comp claims will attend!”

To be continued …

© Irfan Yusuf 2005

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