Muzzling Andrew Bolt

The death of debate

Andrew Bolt

Several disturbing questions are raised by this story:

The Australian Federation of ­Islamic Councils is facing mounting calls for an overhaul… A week into his new role as AFIC president, [Keysar] Trad is facing criticism over his first media ­appearance — last week’s interview with conservative columnist Andrew Bolt on Sky News.

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Mr Trad has been widely critic­ised on social media, including ­accusations that he was out of touch in propagating the idea that radicalisation and terrorism were key issues to Muslim Australians.

One prominent Muslim psych­ologist slammed his decision to be interviewed by Mr Bolt, calling for a boycott of AFIC.

Mr Trad has been asked by ­several of AFIC’s state-based constituent groups for clarification of his call for radicals to be jailed.

But Mr Trad, who was appointed to head up the embattled federation on August 3, stood by his comments, telling The Australian Muslims had a responsibility to discuss their religion, even with critics.

If Trad is attacked for even talking to me, what does that say about the willingness of some Muslims engage in genuine debate?

What does it say about many of my colleagues that I’m seen as so beyond the pale in questioning Islam? Anyone seeing my interview with Trad would have to concede we had a civil and informed discussion.

Or is the word “informed” the clue? Here is a review of what happened.

I note that I am increasingly being non-personned in debates with the Left and fellow travelers. Global warming alarmists and even the Labor environment spokesman refuse to debate me. Some Aboriginal spokesmen active within the ABC have tried to stop the screening of a documentary I shot with Linda Burney on indigenous recognition. Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten refuse to be interviewed.

Strange. Again, anyone watching my interviews will know I do not yell or heckle or treat guests with contempt. Yet I somehow frighten the people above in a way that, say, the ABC does not.

Slaughter, Silence and an Open Secret

Whenever the cry of ‘Allahu-Akbar’ rings out and yet more innocents are slain, Muslims disassociate themselves, organisations, communities and, most of all, their religion from the violence against unbelievers that their holiest scriptures quite specifically endorses

Tricky Dick had a dirty secret or two, as did Bill Clinton. Probably if you put some effort into it you could find lots of dirty secrets in history. They would have one thing in common. They were hidden before being uncovered. After all, that is the nature of dirty secrets. Except, that is, for one. One dirty secret is on open display.

Come on, you might say, how can that be. Easy, people systematically look the other way. Journalists look the other way. Politicians look the other way. Christian leaders look the other way. “Nothing to see here,” they all proclaim. Of course not everyone looks the other way, but such people, like, say, blogger Robert Spencer (banned from entering the UK by the Home Office in 2013 for not looking the other way), tend to be on the fringes of debate and the main players double down by ignoring them.

These days with so much widespread, vicious and well-publicised Islamic terror, so-called moderate Muslim leaders are often asked to comment. To a man and hijab’d woman they disassociate themselves, their organisations, their communities and, prominently, their religion from violence. Whenever “Allahu-Akbar” violence occurs, it has nothing to do with Islam – the religion of peace, we are told. And that surely must be true; Pope Francis says so.

At the back of the papal plane, hopes are raised; hopes are dashed. Following two Islamic terrorists slitting the throat of Fr. Jacques Hamel, an 85-year-old French priest, the Pontiff declares that we are at war. At last, muscular Christianity on show, a not-before-time holy war of words is in the offing to protect Christians! Alas, his minders at the front of the plane quickly re-educate their man. He dutifully returns to the back of the plane and recants. “When I speak of war, I am not speaking of a war of religions. No. There is war, a war for interests, for money, for natural resources, for domination of peoples … All religions want peace; others want war.”

So there we have it on papal authority. It is beyond parody. The bloody mayhem stretching from the Middle East and North Africa into the heart of Europe and America is not about religion, it is all about money. And all the while the jihadist playbook is in full view. If only someone from the great and good would take a look.

So it was that I tuned last week into the Bolt Report on Sky News. Andrew Bolt is interviewing Keysar Trad, the new President of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils. Bolt does something that is exceedingly rare among his fellow journalists. He quotes from the Koran. He opens the playbook at verse 9:29. He outs the dirty secret.

“Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture – until they give the jizya willingly while they are humbled.”

Talking off the point at length is a well-practised technique among Muslim representatives. It happens whenever they are put on the spot. Bolt is masterful. He lets Trad ramble on; only periodically interrupting him. Want to understand the threat that Islam represents; listen to its adherents trying to skirt around unpalatable truths about their religion.

Bolt is told that the verse in question has to be viewed in context of surrounding verses. He is having none of it; referring to the surrounding verses as anything but benign. To see his point, have a look at this from the preceding verse: “the polytheists are unclean.” Have a look at this from the succeeding verse: “may Allah destroy them [Jews and Christians].”

Bolt goes to another verse (clearly 8:12). Included in this verse is this charming instruction from Allah: “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve, so strike them upon the necks and strike from them every fingertip.” Undoubtedly this verse inspires and ‘justifies’ slitting the throats of elderly French priests, as it does many a head lopping.

Let us all please get this clear. The Koran purportedly records the very words of Allah. These words cannot be changed or “reformed”. Many verses in the Koran are hateful; and they are doctrinal not historical. Time doesn’t mitigate their applicability. Trad makes some attempt to put the verse Bolt quotes (9:29) into a use-by-date perspective. But this won’t wash unless Allah was extremely sloppy with his wording, over and over again.

Certainly millions of Muslim fundamentalists, zealots, extremists and terrorists don’t think there was any sloppiness on Allah’s part. They are literalists. And beneath this upper tier of Islamic adherents there is a vast Muslim following that has uncivilised views; which, to state the obvious, they were not born with.

Mark Durie in Islam, Human rights and Public Policy (2009) refers to a poll taken in 2006 which found that 58% of Indonesians believed adulterers should be stoned to death. In 2010, the Pew Research Centre found that 84% of Egyptians, 86% of Jordanians and 76% of Pakistanis favoured death for apostasy. People brought up within enlightened cultures do not think this way. They have been corrupted and behind that corruption is a plain reading of the Koran and of the recorded martial legacy of Muhammad.

Those who express allegiance to this corrupting scripture, even if they describe themselves as moderate, are intractably compromised. Analogously, you can’t live your life in accordance with the tenets of Mein Kampf and say you love Jews. Not with a straight face you can’t.

Bolt did us a service by going right to the scriptural source of the problem; to the dirty secret. The Pope and all non-Muslim apologists for Islam are putting our civilisation at risk. They are also doing a disservice to those brought up as Muslims by telling them that their faith is fine. When, in fact, their faith is an affront to enlightened thinking.

It is simply not acceptable that a large body of people are spiritually guided by a scripture which preaches intolerance, violence and supremacism. Muslims need to escape from its clutches, not least to protect their children from its corrupting influence. And they need tough love and straight talk from Christian leaders to convince them to make the break.

Peter Smith, a frequent Quadrant Online contributor, is the author of Bad Economics