University gives the stage to imam Trad to preach a very dangerous resentment
It is reckless beyond belief for the University of Western Sydney to give a platform to an Islamic bigot that the courts have rightly described as “dangerous”.
It is grossly irresponsible for The Age to then report his rabble-rousing speech, likely to inflame dangerous passions and resentments, without any criticism or reference to Trad’s past hate-preaching:
Keysar Trad, founder of the Islamic Friendship Association, told a university forum that his comments may be “dangerous” and “politically incorrect” but they were crucial to understanding why more than 200 Australians have taken up arms in Syria and Iraq.
In a scathing assessment of Australia’s efforts to create a harmonious society, he said constant persecution, hypocritical Australian laws, vitriolic media and repeated invasions in the Middle East were pushing young Muslims “to the margins of society” and driving them to radicalisation.
“Denying the root causes is like applying a Band-Aid to an open wound before cleaning and disinfecting it,” he told an anti-radicalisation forum at the University of Western Sydney on Wednesday night.
Mr Trad, a controversial figure who described himself as a “roving imam”, said he could understand why young Australians were driven to join Islamic State but he tried to convince them it was not the solution…
Mr Trad said Australian Muslims were confronted with “systemic discrimination”, opportunistic political commentary, unemployment and “duplicitous standards” in law enforcement.
“It is hard to argue with a young person who starts to cite all these issues, you can see the fire in their bellies, you in fact feel the same fire yourself,” he said.
“All the above factors compound to different extents the sense of victimisation and alienation amongst youths in general and Muslim youths in particular.”
Paul Murray deals with some of the worst passages of Trad’s lecture, which, we must further note, may well have been a more moderate version – tailored for his university audience – of the pitch Trad gives a Muslim audience:
The moral equivalence is frightening. The victimology is frightening. That Trad now preaches it in his latest incarnation – a “roving imam” – and even as the guest of a university is threatening.
Trad often pleads an excuse of context. Well, here is some context for this latest lecture, irresponsibly hosted by the University of Western Sydney, giving Trad an honor and a platform that I believe he does not deserve.
Supreme Court judge Peter McClellan made the following findings about Trad in dismissing his defamation claim against broadcaster Jason Morrison:
Imputation B – the plaintiff incites people to commit acts of violence: The defendant submitted that because the plaintiff holds and expresses the view that many women rather than men are responsible for rape there is increased probability that women will become the victims of sexual violence. It was further submitted that the plaintiff’s defence of Sheikh Hilali’s views that child martyrdom in war was honourable and that suicide bombing was a legitimate tool, incited violence in the sense that these views encouraged children to go to war and encouraged acts of terrorism. Furthermore it was submitted that the anti-Semitic material on Radio Islam and the references to the Protocols of Zion and Mein Kampf on the plaintiff’s website were an incitement to violence. The defendant submitted that encouraging beliefs that Jewish people foment conspiracies to take over the world have been a driving force for many acts of violence against Jewish people for centuries. These views were reflected in the extreme acts of some governments, particularly Germany in the 20th century. It was further submitted that maintaining in strident language that the appropriate punishment for homosexuals is stoning to death is an incitement to violence. Describing homosexuals as depraved perverts and likening homosexuality to cancer dehumanises homosexuals and exposes them to violence.
There is little doubt that many of the plaintiff’s remarks are offensive to Jewish persons and homosexuals. Although the plaintiff said that he was not aware of the content of some of the links on his website I do not believe him. The plaintiff is plainly a person who has devoted considerable time to communicating his views to other people. He impressed me as concerned with matters of detail and it is inconceivable that he would not have been aware of the links on his site. Many of his remarks are distasteful and appear to condone violence. His views about the punishment of homosexuals, and the use of children as suicide bombers in the war between Palestinians and Israelis are properly described as inciting people to commit violence. Although expressed as an endorsement of the view of Sheikh Hilali I am satisfied that he holds those views. This imputation is substantially true.
Imputation C – the plaintiff incites people to have racist attitudes: In support of the truth of this imputation the defendant relies upon the article entitled Racism published in Nida’ul Islam in December-January 1996-1997. That is the article where the plaintiff said: “The criminal dregs of white society colonised this country and now, they only take the select choice of other societies, and the descendants of these criminal dregs tell us that they are better than us. And because we are not elitist, we tolerate them. Yet they want us to assimilate, perhaps they will only become satisfied when we each dye our hair red, wear blue/green contact lenses, and operate a fish and chips shop, otherwise, we would not be truly assimilating, would we?”
These comments were passed in a riposte to the views expressed by Pauline Hanson who the plaintiff described as an elitist. The views expressed in the article were a robust contribution to a debate which was taking place within Australian society at the time… I am satisfied that the plaintiff does hold views which can properly be described as racist. I am also satisfied that he encourages others to hold those views. In particular he holds views derogatory of Jewish people… This imputation is substantially true.
Imputation D – the plaintiff is a dangerous individual: Many of the plaintiff’s views are expressed in colourful language. Although often lacking logical connection, his ideas, and those of Sheikh Hilali, which the plaintiff has either supported or failed to condemn, are designed to influence others in their attitudes to homosexuality, the Jewish people and the use of violence to further the influence of Islam in the world.
I have already found that the plaintiff must be understood as defending the speech made by Sheikh Hilali in which he referred to young women as “cat’s meat”. Apart from the abhorrent nature of these remarks, the Sheikh’s words would have encouraged some young men to believe that they were not responsible for the rape of women who were immodestly dressed. The plaintiff sought to trivialise the experience of rape victims in his “joke” about “doing it Leb-style” and his remarks that the perpetrators of a gang rape were “just stupid boys”. The plaintiff stepped into a controversy which had been generated by Sheikh Hilali’s remarks and the enormous public concern surrounding the trial of the perpetrators of a gang rape and their sentence. By so doing the plaintiff demeaned the victims of the crime. He did not condemn the perpetrators. I am satisfied that it is appropriate to describe his views as dangerous.
With respect to Sheikh Hilali’s sermon at Sidon Mosque the plaintiff’s failure to condemn the views the Sheikh expressed and in particular that September 11 was a blessing are of particular significance. The support of the use of boys as martyrs in war was obviously dangerous. In the debate piece in the Daily Telegraph and in the article “Sheik and Stir” the plaintiff doubted the responsibility of Osama bin Laden for September 11 and diminished the capacity of radical Islam to mount terror attacks. By putting these ideas forward there is a risk that an unbalanced or fanatical person may be encouraged or may encourage others to participate in acts of violence or terror. The plaintiff’s defence of the Sheikh’s description of suicide bombing as a legitimate tool, and his call for the delisting of Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation are dangerous remarks.
Beyond these matters the plaintiff’s reference to Anglo-Irish Australians as “criminal dregs” and to Hindus as “cow worshippers” are dangerous because of their tendency to inflame tensions and divisions within Australian society. Various of the plaintiff’s actions including the material on his website were designed to contribute to anti-Semitism in the Australian community. These views encouraged division and hostility between Muslims and non-Muslims in Australia. The plaintiff’s expressed views with respect to homosexuality described homosexuals in vitriolic terms. Although the views which he expressed may be held by others in the Australian community, the language in which he expressed them was likely to encourage violence against homosexuals.
A person may hold a view which is dangerous without that person being described as a dangerous individual. To express a view on one occasion which may encourage violence or inappropriate conduct towards others does not of itself make that person dangerous. However, when those views are expressed on many occasions by someone who has significant influence within the community and has access to opportunities to influence others through the media and the views expressed are an incitement to violence or disparagement of women, Jews, and homosexuals, it is, in my judgment, appropriate to describe that person as a dangerous individual. ..
Imputation G – the plaintiff was a disgraceful individual: I am satisfied that the plaintiff holds and expresses views which would not be acceptable to right thinking members of the Australian community. I have previously discussed them. Some of his views and the manner in which they are expressed are entirely repugnant to accepted values within the Australian community.
The question which the pleaded imputation raises is not whether any of the views of the plaintiff are disgraceful but rather whether by his words and actions he can be described as a disgraceful individual. The plaintiff’s attitude to women and homosexuality, apparent support of the use of children in the pursuit of terrorist actions against Israel and his failure to condemn the events of September 11 are views which may be shared by some people. However, those views are not acceptable to the general Australian community and I am satisfied that a person who holds them and, more particularly who encourages others to share those views, may be described as a disgraceful individual.
A person who is convicted of a crime of any significance will be described as being disgraced. A person who encourages others to support attitudes repugnant to the Australian community or encourages violence against women, homosexuals or various ethnic groups and supports child suicide bombers and acts of terror or when given the opportunity fails to condemn these views would be similarly described. The plaintiff is such a person.
The Court of Appeal thought the trial judge went a bit too far on some imputations yet dismissed Trad’s appeal, noting he was indeed a dangerous individual:
Why did the University of Western Sydney then allow Trad to preach his brand of incendiary victimhood on its own stage? Talk about playing with matches…