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