Saturday, July 15, 2006

Halal Snippets - 15/07/06

A few years ago, I was driving to work in the northern Sydney suburb of Hornsby. I had Sydney talkback radio station 2UE on. Steve Price was talking about people of Lebanese appearance, using demeaning and racist terms.

I couldn’t help myself. I telephoned the 2UE line at 8:30am during the “free-for-all” phone-in. I managed to get on the air. I told Steve that there are plenty of Lebanese and other Arabic-speakers with red hair and green eyes. I even told him of a young Sheik of Palestinian background who preaches to kids at the Imam Ali ben Abi Taleb Mosque at Lakemba and who has red hair and green eyes.

Steve thought I was joking. When I pressed the point, he shut me off and invited John Laws into the studio. They both scoffed at the idea, continuing their derogatory and racist remarks about people of Lebanese background.

Well, Sydney’s talkback gurus may live in their own social cocoons. But State and Federal Ministers for Immigration & Multicultural Affairs meeting with their Kiwi counterparts in New Zealand yesterday supported a review of the use of various terms including “middle eastern” to describe the appearance of crime suspects.

Sadly, there seems to be some resistance from NSW police. They and their political masters from both sides of the fence have used “middle eastern” as a divisive term to play dog whistle politics since the Cronulla riots.

And so, it seems the descriptor will probably be used in NSW for the next few years. Which might allow red-headed and green-eyed Lebanese-Aussie criminal suspects to get away with communal murder!


As Indian authorities hunt for clues and suspects in the aftermath of the July 11 bombings in Mumbai, the head of the Hindu neo-Nazi movement Shiv Sena is again stirring the communal pot.

Bal Thackeray (pictured) was reported in Mumbai’s Economic Times as accusing the current Maharashtra State Government of appeasing Muslim minorities. Mumbai is located in the State. The Times report included the following chilling remarks by Thackeray ...

“This government is not capable of protecting Maharashtra because those whose politics is based on appeasing minorities, cannot defeat terrorists,” the Sena chief, who is the editor of party mouthpiece Saamna, said in an editorial in the Thursday issue. “The roots of the blasts may be in Pakistan and Bangladesh, but the hands which feed these terrorists are in Mumbai,” he said.

Thackeray’s movement ruled the Maharashtra State Assembly for five years until October 1999. He was responsible for inciting communal riots which rocked Mumbai and other cities in the state in which thousands of Muslims and other minority groups were murdered in cold blood.

The Shiv Sena are a powerful force in Indian politics, and formed part of the BJP Coalition which ruled India until it was defeated at the last Indian general election. For years, Bal Thackeray was regarded as the uncrowned king of Maharashtra.


July 11 this year marks the 11th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, the worst atrocity in Europe since the end of the second world war. Some 8,000 Muslims were massacred. Mass graves continue to be unearthed.

The perpetrators of the massacre – former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and military strongman Ratko Mladic - continue to evade detection. Slowly Srebrenica’s Muslims are returning to their home city as tensions between Bosnia’s Muslim and Orthodox Christian communities are settled.

A photo-gallery on Srebrenica produced by the international aid agency Islamic Relief can be found here.

© Irfan Yusuf 2006

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