Musel spokesclown Ikebal Patel claims “Islam is rich in culture, art & history and people need to be educated about the true nature of Islam”–
That’s what we’re doing, Ikebal. We try to educate the people of Australia, so they can remain free and Â prosperous, not become slaves of allah.
Reporter: Ben McLeanÂ ABC Report:
The proposed tour of anti-islamist Dutch MP Geert Wilders has drawn attention to a little known group called The Q Society, which is organising and funding his trip to Australia.
EMMA ALBERICI, PRESENTER: Controversial Dutch MP Geert Wilders is expected to tour Australia in February next year.
The anti-Islam politician was due in the country this month, but had to postpone his visit because of a long delay with his visa application.
The proposed tour has drawn attention to a little known Australian group called The Q Society, which is organising and funding his trip.
Ben McLean reports.
BEN MCLEAN, REPORTER: Mosques on suburban streets, burqas in shopping centres, hallal food and Islamic schools, signs of a flourishing multicultural society to many Australians, but to others they are steps down a dangerous path towards a segregated future.
GEOFF DICKSON, Q SOCIETY CO-FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT: Travelling through Europe, I saw the ghettoisation. The intimidation, we suffered it. In England we had death threats when we were in Birmingham from Muslims there.
BEN MCLEAN: But these things aren’t happening in Australia, are they?
GEOFF DICKSON: Not now, but we are definitely following down the same path.
BEN MCLEAN: This is Kew, a well heeled suburb in Melbourne’s inner east and it was here at this local hotel where the Q Society was born two years ago and where it derived its name.
When the society held its annual general meeting in Sydney last week, it granted Lateline exclusive access on the condition no audience members were identified, and they were treated to a personal message from Geert Wilders.
GEERT WILDERS, PARTY FOR FREEDOM, NETHERLANDS: Your government had me wait so long for my visa that it became impossible for me to be here in Sydney today. However, I promise you that I will be in your midst very soon. No threats, no bans, no obstacles have ever prevented me from speaking the truth, and I will also do that in Australia.
BEN MCLEAN: Q Society members describe themselves as volunteers with no political aspirations who just want to wake up Australia to the threat they claim is posed by Islam.
DEBBIE ROBINSON, Q SOCIETY DEPUTY PRESIDENT: There are members throughout each State. We have hundreds of supporters, registered members. There is quite a few thousand on our emailing list. They are from all walks of life, all denominations, all different religions, colour, creed, and from everywhere.
BEN MCLEAN: The previously obscure group shot to prominence when it organised Geert Wilders’ Australian visit. Last month it created another stir, distributing pamphlets protesting against what it claims was the preferencing of Islam in state schools.
DEBBIE ROBINSON: When something encroaches on our society and we’re asked to change, we’re asked to not have Christmas trees, stop having pork, don’t drink alcohol, when we’re asked to change something, it encroaches on our way of life, and we have a good way of life, then we draw the line at that.
BEN MCLEAN: The Q Society doesn’t fit the mould of far right groups like the League of Rights or the Australia First Party. Its platform is non-racist. It supports immigration and has no objections to homosexuality and far from being anti-Semitic, it’s actually a strong supporter of Israel.
That puts the Q Society in step with a number of other overseas movements, from the English Defence League to Stop Islamisation of Europe, which are all vehemently anti-Islam and staunchly pro-Israel.
KEVIN CARROLL, ENGLISH DEFENCE LEAGUE: We believe Israel has the right to exist, we believe Israel has a right to defend itself from any aggressor, Islamist or otherwise.
BEN MCLEAN: In August this year the Q Society and its international allies formed SION, Stop Islamisation of Nations.
The Q Society’s Debbie Robinson is on the steering committee.
SION’s president is Pamela Geller, a New Yorker whose American freedom defence initiative last month plastered the city’s public transport system with posters calling for people to support civilised Israel over savage jihadis.
PAMELA GELLER, PRESIDENT OF SION: I think you could say that SION was set up in response to the global jihad and of course the imposition of blasphemy laws under the Sharia. I don’t care if you worship a stone, just don’t stone me with it. It’s not a religious issue, it is a political issue, and if people come to certain countries to live in those countries, they should respect and obey those laws, not seek to change them.
BEN MCLEAN: In Australia, the Q Society has campaigned vigorously against the so-called ‘boycott divestment and sanctions campaign’ aimed at Israeli and Jewish businesses.
It also led opposition to Muslims using this Melbourne community centre as a prayer hall. Both campaigns attracted support from Jews, but the Australian Jewish Democratic Society says that’s because few people were aware of the Q Society’s agenda.
HAROLD ZWIER, AUSTRALIAN JEWISH DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY: I know there are some individuals that do support the Q Society, but there is no mainstream Jewish organisations. In fact, I don’t know of any organisations in the Jewish community that would give any support to it.
BEN MCLEAN: The group also has links to the Christian Right, particularly the Christian Democratic Party of Reverend Fred Nile. Former Q Society deputy president Vicky Jansen has been a CDP candidate at State and Federal level and spoke at the party’s national convention in 2010 and 2011.
Meanwhile, Australia’s Muslim leaders have already begun discussing how to respond to the Q Society’s campaign and Geert Wilders’ coming visit.
IKEBAL PATEL, PRESIDENT OF MUSLIMS AUST: We as Muslims and Muslim leaders, it is our responsibility to I think educate about Islam to the greater community, to show what true Islam is, to show the various aspects of Islam which is rich in culture and art and history, and try and explain that to the people so that there is a better understanding. I think there is a lot of work that needs to be done.
BEN MCLEAN: It may be the only point on which Muslims and the Q Society agree: People need to be educated about the true nature of Islam.
Ben McLean, Lateline.