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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Working together is essential

In the wake of increasingly vicious anti-Muslim sentiment within the Australian community and the decision of a leading Islamic body to send letters to 200 Muslim clerics and leaders asking them to repudiate violence, racial harmony is hardly served by comments by The Anglican Bishop of South Sydney, Robert Forsyth. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that "he had no time for Islam, whose teachings he believed were false." Can you imagine the outcry if a leading Muslim leader announced on national television that Christianity was a pagan religion, based on superstition and a death cult?

Having said that, the spectacle of Melbourne's Sheikh Mohomed Omran on ABC Lateline last night was an intriguing sight. His answers were vague, contradictory and confused when asked about terrorism, September 11 and Bin Laden. Host Tony Jones, though, was so aggressive - would he ever ask John Howard if he condemned American bombing raids in suburban Baghdad or Israeli incursions into Palestinian territory? - Omran almost had to convince viewers why he should be allowed to stay in Australia.

If people like Jones think the real problem in 2005 is an individual like Sheikh Omran, they're sadly mistaken. But then, it's far too confronting to assess Western culpability.

UPDATE: Hundreds of Muslims have considered leaving England after the London bombings, according to a Guardian poll. The fear of an anti-Muslim backlash is real.

5 Comments:

Blogger Iqbal Khaldun said...

Everyone needs their Goldstein. Why do you think the media contacts idiots like Omran? Ostensibly because he sells more newspapers than someone articulate and sane like Waleed Aly? See for eg http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/author.asp?id=3617 Beyond that, I think stories like Omran play an important propaganda role. They are a diversion from serious debate.

Notice also Howard's grand stand against Omran. Like Downer, he seems to specialise in acting tough when speaking to midgets. In comparison, he looked like he was about to faint when speaking at a press conference in Washington with the big Texan.

This isn't how you defeat Islamic fanaticism. If anything, you risk giving the fanatics and fools greater political capital. How many people knew Omran, for eg, before this exercise?

Tuesday, July 26, 2005 2:24:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

All very true.
Omran, while seemingly clueness and deluded, is not the issue. Creating fear of the 'other' is the key here. Deporting someone like Omran will serve no purpose, other than some people feeling good about the govt's 'toughness' on terrorism.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005 2:45:00 pm  
Blogger Shay said...

Bit harsh Antony. The bishop didn't say anything like "a pagan religion, based on superstition and a death cult". He just said he believed Islam's teachings were false. So does any Christian, at least on matters of salvation. Any serious Muslim would say the same thing about Christianity. Both are exclusive religions - you simply cannot believe both are simultaneously right. I don't believe that this should be a cause for racism... it doesn't mean you can't respect another's beliefs or his qualities as a person. If you want talk from Christians that crosses the racism line, try here: http://www.reandev.com/taliban/ ............ but I think you can do a lot better than the Bishop's comments.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005 11:15:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Was I too harh, Shay? Perhaps. Just thought the Bishop's comments were highly insensitive at such a sensitive time, and besides I've heard many religious leaders of all faiths not dismissing other religions but praising their uniqueness.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005 11:38:00 pm  
Blogger Andjam said...

If people like Jones think the real problem in 2005 is an individual like Sheikh Omran, they're sadly mistaken. But then, it's far too confronting to assess Western culpability.

Who do you think the real problem is? CIA operatives?

Friday, July 29, 2005 12:25:00 am  

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