Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Dick Kerbaj elects Australia's next Sunni Mufti!

If you believe what you read in The Australian, every single Aussie who ticks the box “Muslim” on his or her census form supports the umbrella of Lebanese Shia Muslim groups Hizbullah and opposed Israel.

Aussie Muslims belong to numerous denominations. Internationally, Sunni Muslims make up 90% of all Muslims, the balance mainly Shia Muslims. In Australia , the ratio is perhaps more skewed toward Shia Muslims, largely because of asylum seekers from Afghanistan and Iraq . However, exact figures are unknown.

Many Shia asylum seekers have come to Australia escaping theocratic regimes or sectarian or tribal violence. Many don’t regard religion as their primary source of identity. For instance, Sydney ’s Afghan Hazara refugees were persecuted by the Taliban because they were Shia. They’re now persecuted because of tribal rivalries. Hazara Shia Muslims generally don’t congregate with other Shia Muslims such as the largely Lebanese congregation at Arncliffe or the largely Iranian congregation at Earlwood. Indeed, many Afghan Shias hold religious functions at a small Auburn mosque which they share with Afghan Sunni Muslims.

Yet for The Oz’s reporter on all things Muslim, one man represents all Shia Muslims. And conveniently for Sheik Dicky Kerbaj, that man needs an Arabic interpreter (or a journalist who reckons he speaks Arabic) to translate for him. Regardless of what most of Australia’s predominantly non-Arabic-speaking Shia Muslims of Iranian, Azerbaijani, Afghan, Pakistani, East African and Indian may think, Mufti Kerbaj has issued a fatwa that they all must follow Sheik Kamal Mousselmani.

I’m so grateful to Ayatollah Dicky for clarifying who all Sunni Muslims follow. After speaking to just one person, Kerbaj reached this startling conclusion:

AUSTRALIA'S Sunni Muslims have pushed aside ideological differences with their Shia counterparts to form a united front against Israel and declare their support for the Iranian-backed terrorist network Hezbollah”. Better still, Sheik Dick’s subeditor gives the story the headline of “Aussie Muslims unite against Israel.

And on what basis has Kerbaj declared the words of Keysar Trad definitive evidence of what all Sunni Muslims think? Well, we know that Trad was voted off the executive of the Lebanese Moslems Association and has set up “The Australian Islamic Friendship Society” out of his own living room. Trad, whilst president of the LMA, preserved membership rules that barred full membership to all women and men ineligible for a Lebanese passport.

Here we have the former leader of an organisation that practises gender and racial apartheid, that excludes at least three quarters of all Australian Muslims. Yet that doesn’t stop Kerbaj from describing Keysar as “Sunni Muslim leader and community spokesman”.

Kerbaj hasn’t spoken to a single Turkish imam, including the Melbourne imam who lectured me on recognition of Israel . Like many Turkish imams, he’s a strong supporter of Turkey ’s Muslim democratic AK Party government that has been pushing a number of Muslim countries to make peace with Israel .

And as if the article wasn’t bad enough, Kerbaj mistakenly claimed the UN had declared Hezbollah a terrorist organisation.

© Irfan Yusuf 2007

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Blogger said...

While I agree that much of Kerbaj's article seemed like a beat up, you should be aware that he speaks fluent Arabic...

And your rant doesn't explain away the fact that a major Australian Muslim organisation (in my ignorance I can't think of the name) petitioned last year that Hezbollah be taken off Australia's list of terrorist organisations. Or that Australia's new mufti think they're 'freedom fighters,' etc.

When the leader of Australia's Shi'ite community (Kerbaj's term, not mine - your rant seemed to suggest there is no Shi'ite umbrella organisation - is this true?) sides with Hezbollah, when Australia's (elected) mufti sides with Hezbollah, when a major Australian Muslim group says Hezbollah shouldn't be treated as a terrorist group, it smacks of a unified stance...

Anonymous said...

Blogger what rubbish. Hezbollah are a Lebanese group who only formed because Israel occupied Lebanon.

Jesus if you want to hate muslims at least get your facts straight.

Last year Israel attacked Lebanon in a plan organised in 2004 and pretended it was about Hezbollah.

All sorts of propaganda swilled around and the zionists in Australia still trot it out.

One was that the Hezbollah were shooting rockets from houses yet we know from dozens of reports that it didn't happen.

If Israel didn't keep invading, occupying and destroying the neighbours there would be no need for groups like Hezbollah would there?

kenj said...

Irfan, I like your blog and your style (and I adore the Bronwyn Bishop photo!). I write as Kenj in The Australian - seeking to address the idiotic Right wing **** that passes itself off as analysis. I take it you're into Middle East poltics in a big way, so here's some links that I think are pretty good that you may enjoy.

Middle East....1 2 3 4 5 6 7

General commentary... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

and if you're into 9/11... 1 2 3

- See if any of them grab your interest. Cheers!

Blogger said...


I love it when people are so incensed by a few comments they don't agree with that they start frothing at the mouth...

Let's look at the facts. Hezbollah was established by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, although since then its leadership has consisted of Lebanese nationals. Unlike the various other groups in Lebanon (whether political, military or both), Hezbollah flies almost no Lebanese flags in the areas where it is strongest. Instead, they have posters of the Supreme Leader of another state. Morever, Hezbollah leaders have admitted they take directions, as well as funds, arms and training, from Iran. Anyone who thinks Hezbollah is fighting for Lebanese interests is kidding themself.

It's true that Hezbollah formed as a reaction to Israeli occupation. Hezbollah was a guerrilla / 'resistance' organisation right up until they started firing rockets at Israeli civilian targets (not to mention attacking non-Shi'ite Lebanese civilians). Then they became a terrorist group. Anyone who purposefully targets civilian areas in an attempt to kill civilians is a terrorist.

I don't hate Muslims. Why is it that I posted one or two comments (which usually ended in questions...) and suddenly I'm accused of hating Muslims? I'd be willing to place a lot of money on the fact that you are incensed at the idea of someone labelling you as antisemitic if you criticise Israel! It works both ways, sunshine. Do unto others...

I've no idea where you got the idea that Israel planned to attack Lebanon in 2004. Maybe you read it in the Protocols of Zion? All countries have military plans to be ready for various military emergencies. Israel, no doubt, had a plan to implement should Hezbollah cross illegally into its territory, attack and kill Israelis and capture others. This happened. Let's just remind ourselves about that. Hezbollah entered Israel, not the other way around. Hezbollah killed Israeli soldiers, not the other way around. Hezbollah captured Israeli soldiers, not the other way around. Hezbollah preceded all of that by firing rockets at an Israeli town, not the other way around. Why should Israel be blamed when Hezbollah began the war? By all means, feel free to criticise Israel for overreacting, but by trying to write some bollocks about this all being an Israeli plot is simply ridiculous. Next you'll be suggesting Nasrallah is a Mossad plant...

What possible reason would Israel have for attacking Lebanon? Consider what the war cost Israel in terms of political benefits (up until the war, the EU actually liked Israel because of the 2005 disengagement from Gaza, since the war, that political favour has gone) and financially.

And for what? Lebanon is a country that poses no threat to Israel. Not militarily, not politically, not financially. If Israel wanted to attack a country in order to set it back militarily, it would attack Syria (or Iran). If you think Israel wanted to attack a Muslim country because of some wacko conspiracy theory about Jews taking over the Middle East, then well, that's ridiculous. If that would be the case, you've clearly absolutely no idea about Judaism.

Hezbollah attacked Israel but Israel is stronger. Why should Israel be punished for being stronger? If an ant bites you, do you let it bite, or do you take action against it? Isn't it unfair of you to do so, given how much stronger you are than the ant?

You claimed that "we know from dozens of reports" that Hezbollah didn't fire rockets from houses. The problem with statements like that is that they're so easily proven wrong. I Googled 'youtube hezbollah rocket house' and got this clip. There are dozens more like it.

You wrote that if Israel stopped invading its neighbours there wouldn't be a need for groups like Hezbollah. So why didn't Hezbollah disband when Israel withdrew from Lebanon? And why did it keep attacking Israel, inevitably provoking a response (The July 12 attacks last year weren't the first by a long shot). Why did the PLO form three years before the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank occurred? Why does Hamas explicitly say in its charter that it wants to destroy Israel, as opposed to simply ending the occupation?

I'm all for reasoned debate. But ridiculous comments - easily disproven - such as your own make your arguments and your side appear, well, stupid. You aren't doing your cause (whether it be Arabs, Muslims, the KKK or even just that of reasonable debate) any favours.