Monday, July 02, 2007

Representing & Embarrassing Australia in Malaysia

Mustapha Kara-Ali, an engineer by training, has recently started dabbling in sociological research on the prevalence of radicalism among Muslim youth. He has also taken to making false claims about receiving government funds from the Federal Government.

Kara-Ali likes to present himself as a “moderate” Muslim, despite his affiliation with a fringe sect that can only be described as Lebanese Islam’s equivalent of the Exclusive Brethren. Though Kara-Ali is ever-ready to point the finger at Australians arrested by Lebanese officials overseas, he and his cult remain defiant over the fact that senior members of their organisation have been implicated in terrorist activity in Lebanon that includes the assassination of former Lebanese MP Rafik Hariri.

Yet during a recent trip to Malaysia on a Muslim leaders’ exchange program sponsored by the Australia-Malaysia Institute, Kara-Ali caused great embarrassment to fellow delegates when he openly supported the recent Federal Court decision in the matter of Lina Joy. He did this in the presence of a number of opposition parties and human rights groups.

The Lina Joy case has been discussed here. The decision is controversial in that it limits the rights of Malays to convert out of Islam should they wish to. It raises important issues of freedom of religion for non-Muslim minorities in one of the world’s more progressive Muslim-majority states.

Kara-Ali openly questioned human rights activists and ethnic minority parties campaigning in support of Lina Joy. A number of delegates have told me that Kara-Ali went so far as to suggest that Lina Joy has no right to leave Islam and adopt a new faith.

During one session, Kara-Ali accused activists of an opposition party of being terrorists and the type of people who would have carried out the September 11 attacks. One can imagine the gross embarrassment this must have caused to staff at the Australian High Commission, let alone to the activists hosting the delegation.

Kara-Ali’s other antics include showing gross disrespect to female members of the delegation. Such behaviour reflects poorly on Australia’s Muslim communities and upon Australians in general.

© Irfan Yusuf 2007

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