After nearly 300 people have been murdered by Moslem terrorists “our” Channel 7 has nothing better to do than take a bunch of hijabbed Mustards to France to provoke French people on the beach and then call them “racist”. Channel 7 folk are degenerate swine.
The cynical stunt pulled by the Sunday Night program, where it spirited Sydney hijab-proselytising medical student Zeynab Alshelh and her activist parents off to a beach near Nice to “show solidarity” with (radically conservative) Muslims, featured the 23-year-old flaunting her burkini in an obvious attempt to bait Gallic sun lovers into religious and ethnically motivated hatred. Except according to the French people filmed against their will, the claimed “chasing off the beach” that made international headlines never occurred because Seven used hidden camera tactics, selective editing and deliberate distortion to reach its predetermined conclusions.
This unethical exercise in journalism deliberately painted France as “hostile to Muslims” even though the most hostile countries in the world for Muslim women are places such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, where being female entails forcible veiling and the threat of punishment with the lash, prison or worse for flouting bans on driving, playing sport, committing “adultery” or doing much at all without a male guardian.
The manipulation is the latest example of calculated French-bashing fuelled by collusion between the goals of political Islam and compliant media outlets seeking culture clash cliches.
Alshelh and her family, just like her burkini — which leading French Muslim women such as broadcaster Sonia Mabrouk, Charlie Hebdo journalist Zineb El Rhazoui and radicalisation prevention champion Nadia Remadna condemn as a standard bearer of extremism and the retrograde notion that women are impure vessels whose bodies must be covered — are not just your regular mainstream Muslims, as presented in the program. Au contraire.
Alshelh’s father, who appeared in this cringe-worthy report complete with jarring Jaws-like music, is Ghayath Alshelh, head of the Islamic Charity Projects Association in Sydney’s Bankstown.
His association was formed from the hotly contested Lebanese-Ethiopian al-Ahbash movement and repeatedly condemned as a “fringe sect” by prominent mainstream Australian Muslim figures and organisations, who even pushed for what they describe as its radical Muslim radio station 2MFM to be taken off the air. The association, which proclaims “Islam the true religion” on its home page, was forced to defend itself last year after a police counter-terrorism investigation into a student allegedly exposed to violent ideologies drawing on radical Islam in its prayer groups at Epping Boys High.
Beyond the Alshelh family’s zealotry, which puts them firmly in an ultra-orthodox, unrepresentative minority, locals claim Seven hoodwinked us again: the seaside ostracism of this Aussie girl desperate to give a Down Under lesson in tolerance to those xenophobic French never even took place. According to people quoted in the newspaper Nice-Matin, the entire show smelled of a set-up.
No one was hounded off the beach, despite the scripted whining of Seven’s solemn-faced presenter Rahni Sadler and her well-rehearsed talent the Alshelhs. The swimming public were upset to see the camera crew filming them and their children without permission in a country where privacy is legally protected and paparazzi do not have the same rights as they do in Australia to film without consent.
The beachgoers were also well aware France’s highest judicial body had struck down the mayoral burkini ban at Villeneuve-Loubet.
A French mother who witnessed the incident, which she considered “more than suspect”, told Nice-Matin she was sitting on the beach with her family and children when she saw the camera planted only a few metres away. “And it was only at that point the man and two women in burkinis arrived. They walked up and down the beach for several minutes, then they stopped and sat down right in front of the TV crew.
“We immediately asked ourselves if it was a set-up. And that was why everyone on the beach started looking in the direction of the TV crew.
“The man on the video (who said, ‘You turn around and you leave’) was my uncle. He never asked these three people to leave the beach. He spoke to the camera because he was asking the cameraman to leave.
“There were children on the beach, including our own, and we didn’t want them to be filmed.
“Yes, he called the police, but not to get them to chase these people away; instead it was to ask how he could stop them from filming us, and especially our children.
“At no point did anyone come and demand these people leave the beach.”
Another witness told Nice-Matin: “We could see it was being dramatised, it was too much to be true and it stank of a set-up. The man and the two women almost ran to get themselves set-up. In 10 seconds they had laid out their towels and planted their umbrella. They put themselves right in the middle of the jet-ski corridor of the private beach. Because they were in the way of others, the owner of the beach came out and asked them to move.”
It was at this moment that the witness Stephane saw the journalist and her cameraman “planted” behind cars, filming. “The man and the two women continued to walk the length of the beach … sometimes they sat down. Then they started moving again.” But the journalist and cameraman, who had given the impression of leaving, were in fact hidden all the time behind the cars. “You would say they were waiting for some reactions,” he said. “There was a car waiting for them at the top of the beach, as if it was going to spirit them away them just in case.”
Zeynab Alshelh still insisted on air that she was “threatened” and told to leave as she rambled undergraduate-style: “At least in Australia if there is some racism here and there and whatever, but like, the government does not say that it’s OK to be racist towards anyone.”
L’Express magazine attacked the Sunday Night beat-up as a “caricature of France as racist” and publications including Europe1 online and Causeur responded caustically to Australians giving “moral lessons” to France, mocking our “multicultural paradise” and citing the Cronulla race riots and ethnically targeted crimes as evidence. (Alshelh, who denies the set-up, tells Inquirer she “won’t comment on financing questions”, directing inquiries to Seven, but contradicting the show’s script in admitting the network contacted her family first about the French trip).
The shameful Seven report went viral globally thanks to an international media thirsty for stereotypes about France’s unsubstantiated rising tide of Islamophobia. It was dishonest sensationalism that deliberately skewed complex issues surrounding secularism a la francaise and surging religious fundamentalism of the Islamist variety in the context of ever-present terrorist threats and a state of emergency.
Next time Seven should finance Zeynab Alshelh trying her luck taking off her veil in Saudi Arabia or Iran, or perhaps the trainee doctor could use hidden camera techniques in Egypt on doctors practising illegal female genital mutilation on the vast majority of little girls.
But as she confesses to Inquirer: “I’m not going to put myself in that kind of danger — and anyway, they are not preaching secularism (like France) they are just doing whatever they want to do.”