Any claims to Sheik Hilaly being possibly misinterpreted and mistranslated have been swept away. Richard Kerbaj from The Oz can feel exonerated by the fact that other media outlets (including SBS) have come up with effectively the same messages in Hilaly’s speech.
Lebanese Moslems Association President and Auburn Councillor Tom Zreika summed up the mood of Muslims everywhere when he told Fran Kelly on Friday words to the effect of:
We’ve been doing so much work to try and build bridges and now this incident has thrown all that work down the drain.
He also confirmed the LMA would take no action. With respect, this is a cop-out. There is plenty the LMA can and should do. They can start by sacking him from his role as Senior Imam at the mosque they manage.
The sad reality is that the LMA likes to present itself as “the largest and most established Muslim organization in Australia ”. Yet the reality is that full membership of the LMA (and hence voting rights and ability to sit on the executive) is limited to male Muslims eligible for Lebanese passports.
So you have this absurd situation where the senior imam of a mosque which practises membership apartheid claims the mantle of leadership of a multiethnic religious congregation.
Friday’s Daily Telegraph shows three prominent Muslim women (including a colleague of Tom Zreika’s on Auburn Council) standing outside Auburn Gallipoli Mosque expressing their condemnation. Mosque Prez Ibrahim Din was also there (as was yours truly). Din made the position of his congregation (and no doubt of Turkish-speaking Muslims who manage more mosques than any other ethnic group) clear: “He is not my Mufti”.
Sadly, some Muslim spokespeople continue to life with their heads in the sand. Executive Director of the Forum on Australia’s Islamic Relations (FAIR) Kuranda Seyit issued a Press Release this morning calling for an end to the “media witch hunt”, claiming: “I have read his public statement and apology and I am satisfied that Sheikh Taj did not imply that women are the cause of rape.” Yet FAIR’s resident scholar, Na’eem Abdul Wali has contradicted Seyit.
Perhaps the most colourful comment comes from one Canberra Muslim who e-mailed this to me:
Hilaly with two similar sphincter muscles at either end and nothing but **** comes out at either end I don’t whether to laugh or cry at his outburst; who needs enemies when we have this loose cannon on board. He should be reprimanded by Muslims first then others.
Words © 2006 Irfan Yusuf
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