Thursday, November 02, 2006


"Moderate" Muslims
Close Ranks
Around Aussie Imam
Who Said Women
Invite Rape
And Should Be Jailed
For Being Raped


I have been repeating the following sentence, incessantly, over the past few months:

There is no Muslim political organization, academic institution, media outlet, or government, of any appreciable size, anywhere in the world, which is moderate.

As I always say, I hope that someone can prove me wrong, because the implications of the above sentence are frightening and disgusting to ponder.

Read on now, as a columnist in Australia's largest daily newspaper recounts how what he thought was the community of "moderate" Muslims is now closing ranks around the Aussie Imam who has proclaimed that women who are raped should be jailed for life.

I really recommend reading this article in total. Don't just skim it. If you give it your time, and understand its implications, it will be among the most important things you will ever read in your life. Hyperbole? No, not at all. And, I will explain why at the end of this post:


Excuses over. The disgraced mufti of Australia set Muslims a test last month and they failed.
That test couldn't have been easier: make Sheik Taj el-Din al-Hilaly pay for preaching that unveiled women invited rape.


Prove that Muslims can't be led by a man who says raped women must be "jailed for life". Prove we have nothing to fear from your faith.

Simple? Yet yesterday 34 Muslim groups signed a petition backing this bigot, while others plan a big rally for Sydney tomorrow, denouncing not Hilaly but the non-Muslims who criticise him.

The results are in: Islam here -- as represented by many of its leaders -- is now a threat. What's more: our culture of self-hate makes us too weak to properly resist.


I know saying such things is hard on the many moderate Muslims I keep insisting are out there. I am sorry for that, but where in God's name are those people? How much longer must we wait for them to speak?

For more than 20 years they said nothing as their most prominent imam, in their biggest mosque, damned Jews as perverts, called suicide bombers heroes, praised terror groups, vilified non-Muslims and hailed the September 11 terror attacks on the United States as "God's work against oppressors".

They said nothing as he gave the run of his mosque to a pro-bin Laden youth group and hired one of its translators as his spokesman. For years they let this man, their mufti, represent Islam in this country, whose language he never really bothered to learn in nearly 30 years of living here.

But I never lost hope, and so for a few days last week thought . . . at last!

At last we heard Hilaly being damned by Muslims, too -- by women's groups, a Melbourne University academic and even the Islamic Council of Victoria, which had foolishly helped to make this Egyptian the mufti so no government would dare deport him. At last Muslims were disowning this man. He was disinvited from a Brisbane festival. There was talk of stripping him of his title.

The Lebanese Muslim Association, which runs the Lakemba mosque, even debated sacking him as imam, before banning him from preaching for three months. No, this wasn't much, but many in the media grabbed it hungrily. We badly want to find Muslims who'll renounce the values of the hate-preachers, to show that it's not us against Islam.

Mind you, we shouldn't have had to be so pathetically grateful. What sane person could want a woman jailed for being raped?

But we should have known already this was a bigger problem than just Hilaly. Last year Lebanese Sheik Faiz Mohammed also gave a speech in Sydney, which said raped women had themselves to blame. And which of the 500 men who heard Hilaly say the same at his sermon complained? Only when it was reported in the English-speaking press did some concede Hilaly had gone too far.

Yet even then supporters sent him vanloads of flowers, and when he returned to his mosque last Friday he was greeted "like a rock star", said one paper, by an adoring crowd of 5000.

And that criticism of him? It faded away. Now the Lebanese Muslim Association isn't so ashamed of him, after all: "We did accept his apology and we want to move on."

The Muslim Women's Association, which first admitted to being "shocked" by Hilaly's sermon, now said he was "very good to all Muslim women".

Said founding president Aziz El Saddik: "Those who say bad things about him, they have very bad manners."

His sermon on rape was for Muslims only. Not our business.

But we can't afford to believe that any more. They weren't Muslim women, after all, who were raped by a Lebanese gang in Sydney, which called them "sluts" and "Aussie pigs". It wasn't a Muslim teenager who was pack-raped in Sydney by Pakistani brothers, whose father told the court: "What do (the victims) expect to happen to them? Girls from Pakistan don't go out at night."

When Hilaly preaches excuses for such rapes, that concerns us all. Very much.

But it is true that not all those defending Hilaly like what he said. The people behind tomorrow's rally say, rather, that our criticism of him has degenerated into just Muslim-bashing.

Yesterday's statement by 34 Muslim groups -- most representing Islamic colleges and students, or the Muslims of tomorrow -- says the same, even as it confirms something far more scary.

"We believe that the public scrutiny of this matter should have ended with the sheik's apology," it says.

"We believe that the Muslim community should be allowed to deal with the ramifications of the incident without interference from people who only wish to promote hostility and incite hatred towards our community. Finally, we consider this matter to be closed."

Closed? In fact, Hilaly has not retracted a word of what he said. If this matter is "closed" then he has won.

But what is most frightening is not that he's won, but how. Both this statement and the rally show he's won because even educated Muslims, born right here, think it's better to defend a Muslim bigot than to have him criticised by infidels.

It's the code of the tribe: the worst of us is better than the best of you. It's a closed community speaking -- a paranoid one that sees itself at war even with people whose only worry is that their preacher excuses rapists.

And menace is in the air. What other congregation at prayer needs to be reminded -- as Hilaly reminded those at his mosque last week -- not to punch people on the way out? Which other rally for a religious leader needs to be warned -- as the NSW Police Minister warned this week -- that police would not tolerate any violence?

I'm not surprised one of Hilaly's former advisers, Jamal Rifi, warns that if he hangs on as Lakemba's imam he may trigger "racial tensions, much bigger than what we had over the Cronulla riots".

But what are we doing to help Muslims to break from him and leave this cultural ghetto, this encampment, before things get truly ugly? Not enough. For a start, we make too many excuses for the Hilalys, as if they were mere children, or Australia the real villain.

How can a culture so sick of itself resist the kind of challenge that Hilaly and his angry supporters represent? How can it inspire young Muslims to side not with him but with us?
I don't know, when we teach the young we are a country of child-stealing, land-raping, Muslim-murdering, Yank-licking, gas-belching vandals. Until that changes, expect the traffic to flow more into Hilaly's ghetto than out of it.


Just consider the radical mother of two of the Australian Muslims arrested in Yemen last week on terrorism charges, and accused of ties to al-Qaida -- a so-called former "hippy chick" from Mudgee, who found in Islam what she couldn't in the society that raised her.

As I said: Muslims have failed. But so have we all. We now have urgent work to do, if we want to save ourselves from far more strife than we dare yet imagine or say.


The reason this article is so important is because the author so clearly explains why we can not live with Muslims who believe such things.

So, what is the answer then? What do we do? Do we help them to change?