The discussion about Islam in Australia is very rarely a discussion about Islam. Commentators and politicians usually get bogged down in name calling along with tangents such as who are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ Muslims. It is time to cut through the rhetoric and actually have a debate about the ideology known as Islam.
Craig Laundy made some very public and very questionable comments recently. He claimed that people who speak against Islam are ‘not well-informed’ or ‘plain wrong’. He was heavily criticised by some in the media and when publicly challenged to a debate he went strangely silent.
Social media however went into overdrive. Hundreds of people left comments on Mr Laundy’s Facebook page encouraging him to debate his statements on Chris Kenny’s Viewpoint program on Sky. Many on Twitter demanded the same thing. He ignored the invitation and said nothing.
The newly promoted assistant minister for multicultural affairs took a condescending tone towards voters and yet refused to defend the divisive comments he made in a public sphere. This week in The Australian he was given an opportunity to write a column and instead of addressing the legitimate concerns of constituents he ignores all criticism and decides to lecture us all about the strengths of cultural diversity. An entire opinion piece about the merits of multiculturalism and not once did he mention the word Islam.
Last year Waleed Aly criticised Tony Abbott for not talking about Islam. He was also challenged to debate it publicly but ignored the offer. I offered to debate him and talk about Islam since he rarely does. Anne Aly, the ALP candidate for Cowan in WA and counter terrorism expert also refuses to engage in the debate.
Most Australians agree that multi ethnic integration has been exceptionally successful in Australia. Greeks, Vietnamese, Chinese, Indians and so many more have integrated and enriched our great nation. The problem however has arisen with multiculturalism. Multiculturalism is divisive and encourages separation. It also results in censorship where criticism of values that are not compatible with Australian norms is practiced. We have a rich and wonderful tradition in Australia of being able to critique, analyse, satirise and discuss all and any kind of ideology; from Christianity to Nazism to socialism to communism to fascism and atheism. And yet we now find ourselves unable to vigorously and honestly discuss the ideology of Islam without being shouted down or censored.
It is time to ask the sincere and obvious questions.
The Quran, we are told by Muslims, is the inspired word of Allah given to the prophet Mohamed. The Hadiths are the circumstances, stories and accounts explaining the commands given in the Quran. It is the Quran, Hadiths and example of Mohamed that define Islam, not the people who follow it.
Have you read the Quran? I have and it greatly concerns me and many Australians that there are Muslims who take the commands literally.
Thankfully though the majority of Muslims in Australia do not take the Quran literally. We can be very grateful they reject the example of Mohamed when it comes to rape, slavery, terrorism, and child marriage. However, it is concerning that many followers of Mohamed endorse and subscribe to the misogynist attitudes and practices that result in women having to wear oppressive clothing against their will, be chaperoned by a male relative when they go out or endure the horrors of FGM or forced and arranged marriages – sometimes under age. The Pakistani government recently refused to ban underage marriages as it would be ‘blasphemous’ and go against Islamic teaching.
We can all be utterly relieved that the majority of Muslims disobey direct commands such as Quran (8:12) – “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them”.
We can analyse the Bible another time, which has been done ad nauseum, but the basic and most profound difference is that the violence in the Bible is descriptive and limited to events in a specific time and place. In contrast, the violent passages in the Quran are prescriptive and are for all followers of Islam regardless of the time and place. Yes, there were peaceful passages to start with but the law of abrogation in the Quran means the later passages supersede the earlier ones. The harsh reality is, there are many Muslims taking these verses literally today and are in fact ‘striking terror into the hearts of unbelievers.’
In fact in countries such as Saudi Arabia it is government sanctioned and religiously endorsed. The same cannot be said about passages from the Bible.
When it comes to devout followers of Mohamed how does anyone know who will be next to become more devout, pray more, visit the mosque more and take the texts literally? Who are the true Muslims? The ones who modernise, westernise and reinterpret the texts or the ones who take them literally?
It is important to ask all citizens in this country, “Are you an advocate of one law for all?” along with “Do you condemn and reject all aspects of Sharia law?” The reality is many aspects of Sharia law have crept into our society already.
Craig Laundy, the associate minister for multiculturalism needs to account for some appalling practices that are going on not just in this country but in his own electorate.
What is he doing to protect the women and vulnerable young girls in his electorate who are forced to wear the burqua or niqab against their free will?
What is he doing to protect the women in his electorate who are not allowed to go out unless they are in the presence of a male relative?
What is he doing to protect the women in his electorate who agree to Sharia law style mediation in custody and inheritance matters that are contrary to Australian democratic law? The woman always comes off disadvantaged in such arrangements according to Sharia. Many Muslim women do not understand the freedom and equality they are entitled to under Australian democratic law. Others may understand but fear being ostracised by their community or even punished if they step outside Sharia practices.
Immigrants who represent persecuted minorities get very little attention here in Australia. They have suffered greatly as jihadis have butchered their family members while shouting Allahu Akbar and quoting passages from the Quran. We owe it to them to have a reasonable and rational debate about the ideology of Islam.
They have fled here to find safe refuge only to find they are censored and discouraged from talking about their experiences. Many say, “Where else can we go?”
Will we be a society that encourages honest debate or will we self-censor and adhere to Islamic blasphemy laws that demand we do not criticise Islam or the prophet Mohamed?