Iran, Hilaly, The Heathlander, and trying to keep some perspective…

10 Apr

No doubt few in Sydney would be unaware that the foot-in-Mufti Lakemba Sheikh has been at it again, in Tehran this time. In the Sydney Morning Herald on April 9, 2007 Irfan Yusuf has a bit to say on that character.

Despite holding the grand title of “Mufti of Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific”, Hilaly’s influence is limited, at best, to a faction of Lebanese Sunni Muslims living in Canterbury, Auburn and Bankstown.

Even in his own backyard, Hilaly could not convince a sufficient number of Muslims to sign the relevant forms to register his Peace Party in time for the recent state election.

In the NSW parliamentary seat of Auburn, which has perhaps the highest proportion of Muslims of any state seat, the Labor incumbent, Barbara Perry, won comfortably, even managing a swing of 2.3 per cent on a two-party preferred basis. Perry managed to secure 24,314 primary votes, her nearest Muslim rival candidate (Auburn councillor Malikeh Michaels, of the Greens) secured 1621 votes.

The Lebanese Muslims Association, which manages the Imam Ali mosque, lists Hilaly as one of five imams serving its congregation. This organisation, like most other mosque management bodies, is an ethnoreligious body. It is well known in Muslim circles that the association’s constitution limits full membership and voting rights to men eligible for Lebanese citizenship. Hilaly isn’t known to have publicly opposed this membership apartheid, which hasn’t won him any friends in non-Lebanese Muslim circles.

These facts won’t stop politicians using the mufti mess to focus on allegedly anti-integration Muslims refusing to adopt Australian values, deflecting attention from the politicians’ inability to act on bigger issues such as climate change, as well as providing cover for legislative and policy concessions they give to anti-integration groups such as the Exclusive Brethren.

Reputedly conservative media pundits will continue to use this incident to argue that Australia needs to address “the Muslim question”, rehashing conspiracy theories of Muslims plotting to overrun Australia’s “Judeo-Christian” and/or “secular” heritage by stealth.

But most Muslims aren’t interested in appearing in yet another chapter of “The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Lakemba”. Hilaly is very much the roaring mouse that journalists love to focus on, but whom Muslims ignore. And with Hilaly’s chronic inability to control his tongue (and now, it seems, his purse), many Muslims will regard Mufti Day as well and truly ended.

See also on the broader issue Planet Irf on Try Kiwi values, mate!. “Australia’s own values debate was also hampered by the Howard Government’s inability to articulate distinctly Australian values.”

On Iran and what threat it represents, why it is the way it is, and what path makes sense in dealing with that country, Jamie Stern-Weiner (The Heathlander) and his commenters have made a valuable contribution recently. That entry for some days last week topped WordPress.

MSNBC has put together a slide-show offering a brief history of Iran.
They’ve managed to go back further than 1979 – impressive for a mainstream outlet, whose memories usually begin with the Islamic revolution.

But, amazingly, they’ve contrived to ignore Mohammed Mossadeq, the democratically elected prime minister of Iran who in 1953 was overthrown in a UK/CIA-backed coup…

The mainstream media has been caught, once again, shamelessly re-writing history in the interests of power. That MSNBC has completely obliterated the U.S.’ history of aggression towards Iran at a time when the Bush administration is trying to drum up militaristic fervour amongst the population with a possible view to another imperialistic war against that country is an utter disgrace.

Wikipedia is worth visiting. So, as I mentioned the other day, is the latest issue of The New Internationalist. See also a post here from around this time last year Don’t Blitz Iran — Brian Cloughley and this item from Foreign Policy Magazine May/June 2005: Think Again: Iran by Christopher de Bellaigue. I summarised the latter item on Blogspot thus:

1. “If Iran Gets a Nuclear Bomb, Iran Will Use It” — Very unlikely.
2. “Iran Has No Use for Nuclear Power” — False.
3. “The Iranian People Support Their Leaders’ Nuclear Program” — Not really.
4. “Only the Threat of Force Can Dissuade Iran from Advancing with Its Nuclear Plans” — Doubtful.
5. “U.S. Military Action Would Embolden Dissidents to Topple the Islamic Republic” — Wrong.
6. “Criticizing the Islamic Republic Helps Dissidents Inside Iran” — No.
7. “If Iraq Becomes a Democracy, so Will Iran” — Wishful thinking.
8. “Iran Cannot Be Reformed from Within” — Wrong again.

I have more related posts on the Archive site: see the search Iran.

See too Global Voices, A Persian’s Perspective (from Canada), View from Iran (Chronicling the adventures of an American in Tehran with guest appearances from her Iranian husband), Iranian blogs (Wikipedia), and Bloggers of Iran (The Nation 05/30/2005).

On another aspect, read Out in Iran. See also Global Gays. Would war solve that problem? Probably not…


Be provoked by The White Man’s Burden, Imperialism And Project For The New American Century by the Kashmiri Nomad. You may read the old Kipling poem there.

Western civilization no longer defines itself for reasons of political correctness in terms of race but none the less views it a collective duty upon itself to civilise those less fortunate than itself. The language in which imperial conquest is couched in may have changed but the effects are still the same. No longer is there mention of the White Man’s Burden or the Manifest Destiny but rather platitudes regarding globalisation, free markets and democracy are now the oft repeated mantras.

Mind you, I do trust that the Great Idiot of Zimbabwe doesn’t shelter himself under that rock, even if there is some truth in it.


Johannesburg 3 April 2007: click image for details.


Last night Foreign Correspondent had an item relevant to the last issue: Fleeing Zimbabwe, reported by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy. This was a very informative report but was first screened on Britain’s Channel 4 in October 2006! See SOUTH AFRICA: THE NEW APARTHEID.

Reporter Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Director Robin Barnwell begin their film on the Zimbabwean border with a group of Zimbabweans as they begin a long journey to Johannesburg. The South African police stop them but let them go in exchange it is claimed, for a bribe, which the people smugglers claim is routine.

The Zimbabweans say they are fleeing a collapsing state, where President Mugabe’s policies have driven the economy into crisis and where earning enough to feed their families is impossible. However, the South Africans blame them for a crime wave and accuse them of causing unemployment.

White farmers in the Limpopo border region tell Unreported World that the immigrants are perpetrating brutal farm murders and poaching their game. The team films several farmers taking the law into their own hands by rounding them up, tying them together and handing them over to the police.

It’s not just the farmers who believe these migrants are fuelling a crime wave. The team moves on to Johannesburg and films with police in one of the city’s most dangerous areas. They accompany officers who routinely use plastic bullets to round up suspected illegal immigrants.

Those they catch are sent to the Lindela detention centre. The team interview a group of Congolese men who accuse the guards of severely beating them. Another inmate laments that South Africans have forgotten the support that their “African brothers” gave them during the days of Apartheid and accuses black South Africans of being the “biggest racists in the world”.

The team then travel to the suburb of Diepsloot where the local South African business community has written an extraordinary letter to Somalian shopkeepers asking them to leave. The shopkeepers – who say they’re asylum seekers rather than illegal immigrants – fear they will suffer similar violent attacks to those suffered by other immigrant communities.

A group of protesters gathers, demanding that South Africa should be for South Africans only. One woman tells Unreported World that black South Africans fought long and hard to gain their freedom that these benefits are now being stolen by illegal immigrants.

The team are then allowed to film on board a train returning 400 Zimbabwean illegal immigrants back to the border. Some are so desperate to remain, that they throw themselves from the moving train during the night. Almost all say they will be back in the country within a few days. Given the ever-worsening economic environment in Zimbabwe they say they have no other choice.

Foreign Correspondent also featured a very recent interview with Zimbawean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, as fascinating a bit of diplomatic dancing and side-stepping as I have ever seen!

Sirdan, who was born in then Rhodesia, is off to visit his mother in South Africa in a couple of months. He hasn’t been back for decades. He is rather fearful…

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Posted by on April 10, 2007 in Current affairs, Faith and philosophy, gay life/issues, immigration, Multiculturalism and diversity, News and Current Affairs, Politics, racism


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