According to ABC Radio National religion presenter Dr Rachaael Kohn, it is the responsibility of Muslims in Australia to expose some wacky Iranian self-proclaimed Ayatollah they probably have never heard of except through the news.
In the many media conferences and interfaith meetings I've attended, Muslims have regularly complained that the media cast them in a poor light.
However valid that complaint may be, it loses all credibility when they don't go after the radicals in their community.
If they don't, the media will do it for them.
Indeed. And when the media does it, it's likely that it will be the first time even the most well-connected Muslims will learn about the person in question. But what if Muslim religious leaders go further and actually request law enforcement agencies to do something about it? As Kohn herself notes:
Almost two years ago, Richard Kerbaj [The Australian, Jan 28 2008] reported that the Melbourne based Shia Muslim leader, Kamal Mousselmani, urged the Australian Federal Police to investigate Sheik Haron, whom Mousselmani claimed was not a genuine religious leader.
Did you read that, Rachael? Almost two years ago. Perhaps you should be directing your inquiries to AFP.
Still, Rachael does have one point:
But one issue remains outstanding: just who is a genuine religious leader in the Muslim community and who is monitoring their output to young Australians?
I've been making that precise point in the matter of Afroz Ali. But then, Afroz doesn't exactly go around preaching suicide bombing. I don't think someone who promotes feeding the homeless and getting involved in climate change activism could be described as a threat to our national security even if he isn't as qualified to teach religion as he claims to be.
You'd think a religious reporter from Radio National would be able to make such distinctions and address such issues. Still, you don't need to know much about Islam or Muslims to get a job in the Religion department there. Indeed even Afroz Ali wouldn't be silly enough to object (as Kohn once did) to using the term "unitarian Islam" (or something similar) to describe wahhabism. A bit like objecting using "lawyer" to describe a legal practitioner.
Read this paragraph and wonder:
Yet it would seem that with the rapid growth of storefront prayer halls, it is time to ensure that all the independent sheiks who garner a following be known and when necessary reined-in by a body that represents the interests of Australian Muslims.
It's hard not to be flippant about Kohn's claims. Yes, these shopfront prayer hall sheiks are breeding like rabbits, popping up all over the place. And as we all know, Muslim youth are so damned vulnerable that they can be brainwashed into doing just about anything. I mean, we've all heard of those genetic deficiencies, haven't we?
Seriously, Rachael, if you want to hold me and 359,999 other Australians who tick the "Muslim" box on their census forms responsible for the wacky remarks of some wacky dude we know bugger-all about just because our unelected self-appointed leaders do bugger-all about him, you might consider resigning from Radio National and move to 2GB where people holding such silly views do their broadcasting.
Words © 2009 Irfan Yusuf
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