|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
Bookmark this on Delicious
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
Some months back, I completed the manuscript of my book, a memoir about my flirtation with certain forms of “political” Islam during the 1980’s and ‘90’s.
I got up to some pretty freaky stuff back then. But I couldn’t help wondering after I finished the manuscript – why would anyone want to buy my book in particular? After all, it’s not as if my activities were anything worth grabbing that fridge magnet for. (Isn’t it funny how no one seems to remember the phone number on that fridge magnet ...)
I did read a few books by the likes of Maududi and Shariati and Maryam Jameelah. I even contemplated heading off to fight jihad against the Soviet Union. I certainly never attended a terrorist training camp (though a representative of the Afghan Hizb-i-Islami faction did give a Friday khutba at an AFIC camp I attended in the late 1980’s). I certainly never did exciting things like recruit hundreds of Aussie Muslim kids for al-Qaeda or one of its franchises. The closest I got to the Taleban was going on khurooj (a word meaning ... um ... don’t ask me what that word means) with the Tabligh Jamaat in the Karachi suburb of Korangi. In fact, I reckon I came closer to embracing religious extremism when I joined the Liberal Party.
For a more authentic action-packed blockbuster account of jihadist fundamentalist islamo-fascist islamist terrorist extremist extremism, I’m afraid you’ll have to wait for the release of former al-Muhajiroun spokesman Hassan Butt’s memoirs. Entitled The Trouble With Islamist Infidel Caged Virgins, Butt’s book tells the story of a young man who once acted as al-Qaeda’s third-in-command, heading its UK operations and recruiting millions of young British Muslims for jihadi missions across the Milky Way.
In one of his more daring missions, Butt recruited suicide bombers from Mars for al-Qaeda’s first mission to the moon, hoping that their mission to destroy this huge piece of green cheese might lead to sufficient Muslim unity to launch bin-Ladin’s Caliphate-cum-dictatorship on Eid al-Fitr. If Muslims cannot find an agreed method for moon sighting, why not just martyr the moon?
And if you’re stupid enough to believe the previous two paragraphs, you’re probably as imbecilic as a host of British politicians and international media outlets, some of which paid Butt huge sums for his “exclusive” story of how he recruited hundreds of British youth.
But don’t expect many of these media outlets to admit they got sucked into Butt’s lies. It turns out that evidence of Butt’s fraud was given before a British court in December 2008, but the court placed restrictions on Butt’s testimony being made public. Those restrictions were only recently lifted. And so it’s only now that the media can report that Hassan Butt told the court that he totally fabricated his stories and told stories “the media wanted to hear”. Here’s my recreation of the court transcript based on the few media reports available:
Andrew Edis QC: So, you were a professional liar then?Before his admissions, Butt had apparently dobbed in a host of people to various law
Hassan Butt: I would make money, yes.
Andrew Edis QC: If the money’s right you’ll say absolutely anything?
Hassan Butt: Absolutely anything, yes. If I wasn’t going to cash up on it, someone else was going to cash up on it.
On Tuesday afternoon, I was forwarded a copy of an anonymous email from three Muslim sources. This in itself is nothing special -- Muslims are recipients of sh-tsheets as much as members of even the most mildly political group. But what made this email strange is that it concerned an upcoming election at the Lebanese Moslems Association (LMA) which manages the Imam Ali ben Abi Taleb mosque in Lakemba and employs Sheik Hilaly and other imams.
The LMA's constitution contains a provision that only adult males entitled to a Lebanese passport are eligible to have full membership and voting rights. Which raises the question -- why was the same email sent to my three sources, two of whom are women and one of whom is an Anglo-Australian man and all three of whom live nowhere within 300km of Lakemba?
The email referred to Sheik Hilaly calling up "the Anti-terrorist unit ... on Tuesday; They (Hilali and his mob) are accusing the 'young boys' at the Mosque of being extremists and potential terrorists". The email also referred to Sheik Hilaly's sermon last Friday when he allegedly described a group of young Muslim men as "Taleban in Lakemba". The email claims Hilaly used terrorism fears to play LMA politics.
These are our children he is talking about, our husbands, and our brothers. How can a Shiek [sic.] make such FALSE accusations. These people he is accusing are innocent -- his accusations can lead to long term jail sentences for these innocent people who have families to support.So why was the email distributed so widely? An election was coming up. LMA elections are always hotly contested affairs, especially given the large amounts of real estate and other assets the LMA owns. Though time and again, the LMA has shown a complete unwillingness to deal with PR issues. Go to the LMA website and try clicking the box marked "MEDIA PRESS RELEASE".
Well, it looks like Mohammad Khatami is visiting Australia as a guest of La Trobe University's Centre for Dialogue. The Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne will also have some hosting to do when Khatami arrives in Melbourne. I'm not sure if he will make it to other cities.
Certain Jewish organisational heads are becoming rather stroppy with Khatami's tour. They are shocked that someone like Khatami, former President of a country that allegedly wants to wipe Israel off the map, could be hosted by the Anglican Church.
These same organisational heads have been hosting visits by the likes of Raphael Israeli. No doubt they won't have much objection to a visit by Israel's new neo-fascist Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, a man who wants to deprive Israeli Arabs of even basic rights should they not swear absolute allegience to the Jewish state in the manner he deems appropriate.
(I somehow doubt Iranian Jews would be treated in this manner. The last public claims made about Iranian Jews were refuted by an Iranian Jewish MP!)
Here's what John Searle, President of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) had to say in a letter to the Centre for Dialogue and quoted in a report published in the Australian Jewish News:
I reiterate it is not possible for the Victorian Jewish community to participate in an organisation ostensibly committed to dialogue when it hosts Sayed Mohammad Khatami, former president of Iran, a man whose views on the State of Israel are clearly inimical to true dialogue and peace.On that basis, I trust Searle will oppose any visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, the official position of whose Party is to oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state. Such views could hardly be deemed consistent with true dialogue and peace. And I trust that Searle would not even contemplate hosting Lieberman, a man who effectively wants to turn Israel into an apartheid state where only Jews are afforded basic rights.
The moderate tone of his comments contrasted starkly with the strident talk of President Ahmadinejad.There's an interesting profile of Khatami and his role in post-revolutionary Iran on the Tehran Bureau blog. I'm not too familiar with this blog or its biases, but its material seems to be well-written and nuanced. Here are some excerpts:
Mohammad first read about Mohammad Khatami when he was the Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance. While there, Khatami had drawn the ire of Islamists by championing Iran’s new filmmakers then coming into prominence. Two former architect students were behind Iran’s new cinema wave, Mohammad explains as we sit to tea one evening. The pair enjoyed a close relationship with Mir Hossein Mousavi, prime minister of Iran during the 1980's, and a close confidante to Ayatollah Khomeini.So how did Khatami defeat his rival, Parliamentary Speaker and hardliner Nategh-Noori? Was it all about good looks and posters? Tehran Bureau continues:
Khatami was one of Moosavi’s ministers. Through Khatami’s support, these two filmmakers were given some space to develop Iranian cinema in their own vision, said Mohammad. This appalled the conservatives. “The Hezbollahis didn’t like the bleak, abstract outlook of these art films,” Mohammad said. And at one point he read that Khatami had quit his post.
Mohammad never heard of Khatami again until his name was floated as a presidential candidate in the Iranian presidential elections of 1997.
Using his power base as speaker of the Parliament, Nateq-Noori was campaigning on promises to improve the economy, and to “keep away the United States and enforce stricter Islamic law,” the New York Times reported. Khatami “the leading underdog,” it said, was pledging “more personal freedoms, more jobs and no more male supremacy.”And what about polling, exit-polls etc? What happened at the ballot box and afterwards, when votes were counted?
“On television, they constantly broadcast pictures of Nategh-Noori going here and there, taking part in ceremonies,” Mohammad said. “It was basically screaming from every door and wall that we should vote for Nategh-Noori. And it got to a point where Ayatollah Khamanei came on TV and said everyone knows who the maslah—the better one—is. Everyone understood that to mean we were supposed to vote for Nategh-Noori.”
But to Iran’s suppressed youth, teeming with testosterone, armed with satellite TV and the internet, there was no competition between the two candidates. To Iran’s persecuted second-class citizens—women—the tremendous support of the conservatives for Nateq-Noori was the strongest reason to vote for any other candidate.
Though Nateq-Noori posters outnumbered Khatami’s by a ratio of 10 to 1, Mohammad said Khatami’s posters were superior. “Khatami had glasses on, the other one didn’t,” Mohammad said. “Khatami’s glasses were key. Later in the campaign, [Noori] also adopted glasses—fake prescription glasses—to appear attractive to women and students” ...
... Khatami, “he had a poster like this,” Mohammad said, posing with his chin resting on his hands. “Khatami had great photographers. His posters had a black background. He always had a smile, a big smile that showed off his teeth. Mullahs don’t show their teeth when they smile. At most, they manage something like this,” he said clasping his lips together and faintly turning curving the corners. “Nategh-Noori’s photos were boring—just like photos of the shahs.”
According to Mohammad, the government conducts polls in secret, and based on those predictors during the 1997 campaign, the conservative camp sensed doom.More to come.
“There were a few polls out toward the end of the campaign—we didn’t know it then, we found out later—that showed Nategh-Noori losing. There are polls in Iran, but they’re confidential. Sometimes certain newspapers with close government sources will reveal something. But polls are generally taken in secret ...
On the morning of the election, Mohammad and a friend went to the polls near his house. “There were a lot of religious people there, a lot of young people, of course, and surprisingly a lot of chic women, too. All had turned out to vote for Khatami—all of them. This was such a great opportunity to say, ‘Mr. Khamanei, we desperately need a change.’ The vote was a message to Khamanei more than anything else ...
Sydney’s Cardinal Pell has accused "modern liberalism" as being intolerant to Christians wishing to speak and act freely and in accordance with their conscience and their religious values.
Space doesn't permit a detailed treatment of Pell's entire speech. I'd probably need at least 8 pages to do that. But for what it's worth, here are a few paragraphs.
His eight page speech focuses on "two tales of intolerance". The first involves the story of activists from various Christian (and no doubt a fair few non-Christian) denominations in the United States who campaigned in support for proposed state constitutional amendments that enshrine marriage as between a man and a woman only.
Pell claims these activists were subjected to intimidation and even death threats. Churches were ...
... the focus for demonstrations, often attended by violence, vandalism and intimidation.Some blogs even called for certain churches to be burned down, while businesses supporting the amendments were boycotted.
... the traditional scarf of Arab men that has come to symbolize murderous Palestinian jihad ...... and ...
... a regular adornment of Muslim terrorists appearing in beheading and hostage-taking videos.Palestinian Catholics, including the parish priest of Bethlehem, won't be impressed.
Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?An edited version of this piece was first published in the Crikey daily alert on Friday 13 March 2009.
Now listen here! I will not tolerate any criticism of the Centre for Independent Studies. This magnificent crowd are bastions of research excellence. Some of the best minds in the country work at this fine institution.
And now they have added another leading light to their gallaxy of stars. Psychiatric registrar Tanveer Ahmed has joined the CIS as a research fellow. And his first research task? Health administration reform? Specialist accreditation overhaul? The state of hospital funding?
Nope. Dr Ahmed will be writing about a subject he knows everything in the world about - Indo-Pakistan relations.
Tanveer has had decades of experience, having worked extensively in both India and Pakistan. I know for a fact that he speaks, reads and writes fluent Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi and Pushtu.
Yes, I know the CIS could have had access to experts on international relations like Owen Harries. But Owen is just a tad too critical of the Bush Administration's foreign policy for the CIS's comfort. Then again, so is Barack Obama, but you know what they say about him. And as for conservative and free market thinktanks in both India and Pakistan, well what would they know about Indo-Pakistani relations?
The CIS know exactly what they are doing. In the past, they've had Dr Muhammad Fajrul Falaakh from the Nahdhatul Ulama of Indonesia to talk about Islam and democracy in Indonesia. He was the okay, except that he ... well ... um ... he was a native. It's far better to get genuine experts, completely unbiased people. People like Daniel "Barack-Obama-was-a-Muslim-because-he-wore-a-sarong" Pipes, Mark Steyn and Ayaan "I-lied-to-get-a-visa" Hirsi Ali. Or better still, how about this chap?
But don't shake your heads just yet. If this is the expertise needed to work for the CIS, I might make my own pitch. I'm sure I could write a report about the virtues of parallel importation of books. And what expertise do I have in this field? Have I worked for a major publishing house? or for the Australian Society of Authors? Or for the Australian Publishers' Association? Or for a host of major booksellers?
No. But I am having a book published. And I'm not exactly a leftist.
Words © 2009 Irfan Yusuf
Bookmark this on Delicious
There are a small minority of bloggers for News Limited who regularly allow racist, xenophobic, homophobic, sectarian and other offensive comments onto their blogs. More often then not, these comments directly controvene State and Federal human rights legislation that proscribe homosexual, transgender, racial and ethno-religious vilification and discrimination.
If you want to read more about these comments and how News Ltd is dealing with them, feel free to visit the Media Mullah blog.
I don't regularly check the Fairfax blogs, and would be happy for anyone who comes across similar comments there to alert me to them at my e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org.
Words © 2009 Irfan Yusuf
Bookmark this on Delicious