We are in a very, very dangerous place, and with not much time left before it becomes too dangerous to speak up.
Australia’s most senior Muslim leader has said he won’t “repeat the mistake” of voting for Tony Abbott, and publicly advised the prime minister to “work in any field other than politics”.
The strong comments by the Grand Mufti Ibrahim Abu Mohammed come amid other signs of a serious breakdown in relations between the Abbott government and large elements of Australia’s Muslim communities, ahead of the expected announcement of new security legislation on Monday.
Abbott criticised the grand mufti on the Bolt Report last Sunday for suggesting it would be a political mistake to ban the Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir, saying his comments were “wrong-headed” and unhelpful.
Actually, Abbott’s criticism was of something far more troubling – the Mufti legitimising the anti-Western rage of the Islamic State, even though he criticises their violence and condemns terrorism. It is unfortunately typical that this very worrying point is evaded in the Guardian story above.
And now we have the Mufti essentially urging Muslims through his example to reject the Prime Minister as an enemy of Muslims, with his attack on Abbott appearing in a video titled: “Muslim Community Confronts Abbott.”
In that video the Mufti defends Hizb ut-Tahrir, a Jew-hating and jihad-preaching Islamist group, as an organisation that does not believe in violence, adding: “Nor do they support any organisation that engages in violence.” ( This is also ignored in The Guardian report.)
Then there’s this taunt of Abbott by the Mufti: “Perhaps you are annoyed with Hizb ut-Tahrir because they criticise you.”
True. the Mufti says he opposes Hizb ut-Tahrir (but without saying why in this video). But he is grossly irresponsible and misleading to suggest Hizb ut-Tahrir’s sin is merely to criticise the Government like, he suggests, some Noam Chomsky or Robert Fisk.
False. Utterly false.
Why is the true reason the Government is worried about Hizb ut-Tahrir?
Because, yes, although it says it opposes terrorism, Hizaby ut-Tahrir publicly demonises and threatens Jews , claiming “Wherever the Jews thrive, corruption abounds”, and asking: “Who will set the world free from the Israelites, so that the world will be able to say that it has rid itself of that hidden evil?”.
Because, yes, although it says it opposes terrorism, Hizb ut-Tahrir attacks Australia as Muslim-hating and sinful, warning ominously: ”Even if a thousand bombs went off in this country, all that it will prove is that the Muslims are angry, and they have every reason to be angry.”
Because, yes, although it says it opposes terrorism, Hizb ut-Tahrir issues veiled warnings – that “Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been leading the way in demonising Islam and Muslims”, for instance, and that if he goes again into Iraq to attack the Islamic State “his government and those who support such a move alone will be responsible for the repercussions that ensue”.
Because, yes, although it says it opposes terrorism, Hizb ut-Tahrir refuses to criticise even the Islamic State, criticising instead its critics and offering the excuse that “ISIS or al-Qaeda don’t exist in a vacuum. They exist as a reaction to Western interference in the Islamic lands”.
Because, yes, although it says it opposes terrorism, Hizb ut-Tahrir defends Australians who fight for the Islamic State, complaining that “Muslims in the west who make the sacrifice of going abroad to fight tyranny and assist the oppressed are characteristed as ‘extremists’ and ‘terrorists’”
Because, yes, although it says it opposes terrorism, Hizb ut-Tahrir tells followers that Australia is “at war with Muslims”, and “the world has seen no greater terrorists than western states who have laid entire nations to waste through decade-long invasions and war”.
Because, yes, although it says it opposes terrorism, Hizb ut-Tahrir says Muslims are “forced to react” against our “Western violence”: that “the real problem, the root problem, is western violence, which eclipses the violence of any individual or group many times over and is in fact the cause of the oppression to which people are forced to react”.
Because, yes, although it says it opposes terrorism, Hizb ut Tahrir held a protest seeming to justify the slaughter by Islamists of Charlie Hebdo journalists, declaring “Je suis Muslims”, promising to protect Muhammad from insults and warning: “We need to defend him. Should we turn the other cheek?”
And because, yes, although it says it opposes violence, Hizb ut-Tahrir gives cover to wife killers, agreeing to give a talk titled “Honor killings are morally justified”.
For the Mufti to insist in the interview above that his response to such radicalism has been “more than adequate”, and at the very same time whitewash Hizb ut-Tahrir as opposed to violence and guilty of no more than criticing the government, is simply frightening.
And for the Mufti to insist I have no right to criticise him or other leaders of the Muslim community – “what right does he have to meddle in its internal affairs” – is not simply evading his duty as an Australian citizen but putting me at personal risk for pointing this out.
As it happens, I actually have concerns of my own about government plans to take away Hizb ut Tahrir’s free speech. But one can defend free speech without defending those who use it to threaten us and incite potentially lethal hatreds when so many have already died.
The Mufti is not alone, unfortunately, in giving Hizb ut Tahrir cover and attacking its critics. In suggesting that too many Muslim leaders have a “touch-one-touch-all” defence to criticism even of extremists in their ranks.
Dozens of Muslim groups, Muslim academics and Muslim clerics have actually joined with Hizb ut Tahrir in signing a joint letter damning the Abbott Government, claiming Hizb ut Tahrir is just a victim of a wicked Government plot against Muslims. It is incredible that so many people in positions of influence could sign something so inflammatory – and it is a shock that so few journalists have the courage or insight now to call them out:
This joint Muslim community statement expresses our position with respect to the Abbott Government’s ongoing demonisation of Muslims in Australia, their organisations, their leaders and their values.
We – the undersigned Sheikhs, advocates, community leaders, community organisations and student bodies of the Muslim community – … reject the Abbott Government’s predictable use of Muslim affairs and the ‘terror threat’ to attempt to stabilise a fragile leadership and advance its own political agendas…
We deplore and denounce the continued public targeting of Muslims through abominable ‘anti-terror’ laws. The laws passed in late 2014 have been used to justify opportunistic raids on Muslim homes… We deplore the undefined and politically expedient use of the words ‘radicalisation’ and ‘extremism’ to criminalise legitimate political discourse and critique of the Government’s policies by members of the Muslim community…
We strongly oppose Prime Minster Abbott’s politically convenient threats to ‘tackle’ and ‘crack down’ on Islamic groups such as Hizb ut-Tahrir who disavow and have never supported terrorist acts, and whose only ‘crime’ has been to criticise the Abbott Government’s stance towards Muslims domestically and abroad, as they are well within their rights to do. We also oppose the bullying of Sheikh Dr Ibrahim Abu Muhammad by Mr Abbott for his criticism of Mr Abbott’s attempts to silence individuals’ and organisations’ legitimate criticisms of his policies…
We affirm our concern about peace and security for all. We refuse, however to be lectured on peace-building and harmony by a Government that plays divisive politics…
Here are just some of the signatories:
Fitzroy Mosque, Forum on Australia’s Islamic Relations, Global Islamic Youth Centre, Gold Coast Mosque, Hizb ut-Tahrir Australia. Indonesian Islamic Association Inc.. Islamic Awareness Forum of UNSW, Islamic Council of Western Australia, Islamic Information and Services Network of Australasia, Islamic Society of Deakin University, Islamic Society of Gold Coast, Islamic Society of Victoria University, La Trobe University Islamic Society, Macquarie University Muslim Students Association, Monash University Islamic Society, Muslim Legal Network Western Australia, Muslim Students Association of Victoria, Muslim Women Welfare and Advocacy Association of Western Australia, Preston Mosque, RMIT University Islamic Society, Somali Organisation for Development Aid , Sydney University Muslim Students Association, Taqwah Mosque, University of Melbourne Islamic Society, University of Technology Sydney Muslim Students, University of Western Sydney Muslim Students Association, Werribee Mosque, Western Australia Muslim Lawyers Association, plus many sheiks, some known radicals.
This is one of the most dangerous political documents I’ve seen in years. Many journalists have made extraordinary efforts to distinguish between the many moderate Muslims and the extremists. But here are leading Muslims instead drawing ranks. And few journalists now dare note it.