Friday, October 31, 2008

MEDIA: More Kerbaj inaccuracies exposed ...


Well, it looks like my old buddy Sheik Dicky Kerbaj is keeping up with The Times and making waves about those blasted cousin-marriers in the United Kingdom.

This time, Kerbaj has co-authored an article claiming there could be tensions between Muslims and the UK police during the 2012 Olympics. Kerbaj et al have cited terrorism "experts" warning Scotland Yard that hungry and thirsty Muslims might get a little impatient with all the crowds.

The two experts cited are Michael Mumisa (an Islamic scholar) and Edward Kessler (of the Wolff Institute for Abrahamic Faiths).

Here is what Kerbaj said about both these gentlemen:

Michael Mumisa, an Islamic scholar, and one of four experts hired by Scotland Yard who began training the police this week on inter-faith issues, said that the commemoration of the 11 Israeli athletes, killed by Palestinian militants from the Black September Organisation at the 1972 Munich Games, could become a national security threat if it was not managed properly and was perceived by Muslims to be “hijacking” the Games.

Edward Kessler, executive director of the Woolfe Institute, which deals with inter-faith dialogue, teaching and research, said that police needed to have a “minimum level of faith literacy” to help them deal with religious issues during the London Games. Dr Kessler said: “During Ramadan you’re going to have a lot of tired, hungry, less evenly tempered people because they haven’t eaten for 18 hours.”
However, both the Jewish Chronicle and the UK Police have discredited the report. Writing for the Chronicle, Leon Symons cites Dr Kessler as saying ...

Sheikh Mumisa's words have been twisted in a way that is not accurate. I know what was said because I was there throughout the course. We were very unhappy with what appeared because it did not reflect the course that the officers took.

We are not experts in terrorism, we are experts in faith and interfaith and that's what they were here to learn. It was a very positive programme which dealt with subjects including antisemitism and Islamophobia.

The possibility of a ceremony to commemorate the Munich Olympics massacre was mentioned as being key to the Jewish community. But it was discussed in terms of one type of commemoration being wholly appropriate and another being wholly inappropriate. The police would have to deal with the situation on the ground and the point was that they should be aware of the sensitivities of each faith community. It was certainly not talked of as a ‘national security threat' or the Games being ‘hijacked'.
And here is how Sunrise Radio reported the story on 29 October:

The Met Police have rejected a national newspaper’s claims that Ramadan coinciding with the 2012 Olympics has increased the security threat.

An Islamic scholar allegedly warned the paper that the timing of the games could create a security threat, but he claims the paper misrepresented his words.

Sheikh Michael Mumisa, of the Woolf Institute of Abrahamic Faith, told Sunrise News he said nothing of the sort, and that journalists must act responsibly.

Chief Inspector Andy Goldstone from the Met Police Olympic Security Directorate agrees there should not be a problem.
You can read more about this episode in dangerous media silliness here. You can also read more of Kerbaj's works on the blog of one of Daniel "Saddam financed Obama's house" Pipes here.

And Australian readers can again have a good laugh by reading Kerbaj getting even the most basic Arabic naming practices muddled.

Words © 2008 Irfan Yusuf

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

VIDEO: Doomadgee hardly a one-off ...

If you thought the experience of the late Mulrunji Doomadgee was a one-off, watch this video about some police in Queensland.

(Thanks to US/NH.)



UPDATE I: Reuters reports that 22 officers involved in the riot on Palm Island that led to the death of Mr Doomadgee have been given bravery awards. Talk about adding insult to injury. (Thanks to AR)

Words © 2008 Irfan Yusuf

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VIDEO: McCain outfunked by Obama ...



Words © 2008 Irfan Yusuf

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CRIKEY: Melbourne Uni Press visibly blushing ...




In all this talk about Liberal staffers writing chapters for Liberal MP’s who plagiarise from Kiwi businessmen, let’s not forget the poor folk at Melbourne University Press. If the MUP website is any indicator, the publisher must be wishing a certain book about the Liberal Party’s future would just disappear deeper into the catalogue.

As of 4:45pm yesterday, the new book is absent from the MUP homepage, including from the news feed on the right hand side and the "November Highlights From MUP". The page dealing with "News and Forthcoming Titles" does mention the book under its "November 2008" section, though it appears below forthcoming titles on Graham Kennedy, Gough Whitlam and cricket.

The "Events Calendar" page doesn’t mention the book’s launch, preferring launches of the books about Gough Whitlam, Graham Kennedy and feminism.

Compare this to the huge billing for Peter Costello’s memoirs continue to receive in the homepage’s news feed as well as in the Photo Gallery, as well as the huge success of Wayne Errington and Peter Van Onselen’s excellent biography of former Prime Minister John Winston Howard. If a professional outfit like MUP can't market a book about the future of the Liberal Party, who czan?

Indeed, if the MUP’s website is any indication, the future of the Liberal Party seems rather uncertain.

An edited version of this piece was first published in the Crikey daily alert for 30 October 2008.

Words © 2008 Irfan Yusuf

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Monday, October 27, 2008

SPORT: Palestine scores a goal on home soil ...


While Israelis look set to elect the anti-peace Likud Party, the Palestinians will be cheering their national football (i.e. soccer, for all you NRL/AFL/Rugby freaks) team which played its first game on home soil on Sunday. Previously its fixtures have all been played in one of the Gulf States.

The friendly game is against Jordan, whose population is majority Palestinian, meaning people on both sides will likely be supporting the same team. Ironically, Palestine coach Izzat Hamza is Jordanian.

The Jordanians arrived over the weekend in ar-Ram, just outside Jerusalem, to play at the newly-built Faisal Husseini Stadium that seats some 6,000 people and whose pitch is made from waterlogged synthetic grass. Its construction was financed by France, Saudi Arabia and Gulf states as part of FIFA’s GOAL program which assists the national teams of impoverished and soccer-crazy countries. Other beneficiaries have included the Central Asian republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan (collectively known as Futbolistan).

Palestine is ranked 180th in the world. Still, that didn’t stop FIFA head Sepp Blatter from cutting the ribbon and sticking around to watch the game. Palestine was defeated by China in its last game by 3 goals to 1, and hence didn’t qualify for the 2010 South Africa World Cup. Neighbour Israel is still in its qualification stage.

Palestine was given nation status by FIFA in 1996. The old Palestine Football Asociation, formed in 1928, consisted almost exclusively of Jewish players and was predecessor to the Israeli FA. Although the modern PFA represents teams and players from both the West Bank and Gaza, the Gazans cannot take part in the Palestinian competition due to a stricter Israeli blockade which has been in place since forces close to HAMAS seized control of Gaza from the forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Palestine’s official competition has felt the brunt of the Israeli occupation. Previous club games have been affected by the opening and closing of Israeli checkpoints, with players and supporters stranded. The friendly game against Jordan was no exception, with the stadium close to the so-called barrier that separates Israel and parts of the West Bank from other parts of the West Bank. Hopefully, the game will have served as a nice diversion. As Palestine’s team captain Rami Rabi told The Guardian: “Whatever happens, we intend to give the fans two hours of happiness to forget about their problems”.

And who won the match? Well, it was a draw. Still, the Palestinians did score the first goal. What an electric moment that must have been for the entire nation.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

VIDEO: Obama = Muslim Socialist ...



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VIDEO: A tribute for Dick Cheney ...

Some weeks back, I purchased a biography of soon-to-be-former US Vice President Dick Cheney. The book was an absolute bargain. Just $2.95. It was hard back, published in 2007. Why so cheap and so soon?

I couldn't understand how such a book could be so cheap already. Then I read a bit further and soon realised. The book was authored by Stephen F Hayes. It was entitled Cheney: The Untold Story of America's Most Powerful and Controversial Vice President.

The reason this book was so cheap was because it was largely supportive of Cheney. And as anyone with half a brain would know, a book supportive of Cheney is hardly going to be terribly popular.

With that in mind, and with the VP's term about to end, here are some videos that highlight the best and brightest moments of Dick Cheney's Presidency of Vice ...









CRIKEY: British buses abandon God ...




How’s this for religious freedom? A group of evangelicals have decided to advertise on British buses. Serious. And which divine being are they plugging? Well, it turns out the evangelical atheists at the British Humanist Society are plugging no God in particular. In fact, they’re advertising no god at all.

Britain’s bendy-buses will soon carry BHA-funded advertisements proclaiming “THERE’S PROBABLY NO GOD. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life”. Already the BHA has raised around 4 times what they expected for this ungodly advertising blitz.

Now don’t ask me what the f*** a bendy-bus is. All I know is that London Mayor Boris campaigned against them before he was elected, calling for the reintroduction of those gorgeous double-decker buses fitted with conductors, preferably ones looking something like piccaninnies with watermelon smiles. Or better still, Russell Peters. And if the conductors don’t like such racial profiling, Boris can always tell them to “go if they don’t like it here”.

Now apparently former Mayor Livingstone introduced this more malleable variety of public transport. Livingstone, of course, was a nasty pinko-lefty. These buses must be part of his grand socialist plot to make us all think the same. And now these biased leftwing buses are carrying blasphemous messages!

Richard Dawkins, an Oxford Professor, is supporting the campaign. Why? He told the Pom version of the Daily Telegraph (via The Age):

Religion is accustomed to getting a free ride — automatic tax breaks, unearned 'respect' and the right not to be 'offended', the right to brainwash children. Even on the buses, nobody thinks twice when they see a religious slogan plastered across the side. This campaign to put alternative slogans on London buses will make people think — and thinking is anathema to religion.
British Christians are enjoying all this attention being given to God. I’m sure God Him/Herself won’t mind either. However, our Young Liberals will surely see Dawkins’ intervention as yet another leftwing campus plot. I urge them to immediately fly to the UK and save Londoners from what is clearly a direct challenge to the Christian heritage we inherited from Mother England. Take Fred Nile with you. And for the sake of Barry O’Farrell’s election chances, please don’t come back.

An edited version of this was published in the Crikey daily alert on Wednesday 22 October 2008.

Monday, October 20, 2008

OPINION: Calling the prejudice around Barack Obama by its true name ...



WATCHING the US election from a distance, it's hard not to be convinced that many American voters may have lost the plot.

Over 40 million Americans have no health insurance. A March 2008 report from the non-partisan, non-profit organisation National Priorities Project estimates that the total cost of the Iraq War by the end of the 2009 fiscal year will be $US745.7 billion, with the US Government surplus for the same period reaching up to $US1 trillion. Americans are having their homes repossessed at an alarming rate, and around a million are homeless. And yet millions of American voters could be swayed by the middle name and religious heritage of one of the presidential candidates.

The United States is arguably the most secular nation on earth. The pledge of allegiance recited by school students across America may refer to "one nation under God", but the US Constitution states an atheist can be elected to even the highest office in the land. As can a person of Catholic, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Shinto, Zoroastrian and any other background.

Yet the voting choices of millions of Americans (including those hardest hit by hard economic times) could be swayed by sectarian prejudice. Barack Obama may be 10% ahead in the polls, but some are wondering whether many voters are telling pollsters the truth.

In Obama's case, this isn't just a case of the Bradley Effect, the phenomenon London's Times recently described as polls overestimating support for an African-American candidate because "when race is involved, voters misrepresent their intentions".

It isn't just racial prejudice at work here. Many voters are less concerned about Obama's late mother spending her last days fighting health insurance companies over the costs of her cancer treatment than they are about why she married a Kenyan man who gave her son a middle name as common as John in some parts of the world but which Americans associate with a nasty non-Christian religion. As one Ohio voter told The Times:

I ain't gonna lie to you. A lot of people around here don't want Obama because of his colour. And it's his name that bothers me. It's Muslim.


At numerous Republican rallies, reference is made to "Barack Hussein Obama". When one nervous Republican told McCain she didn't trust Obama because "he is an Arab", McCain's response was to take the microphone off her and say "no, he's a decent family man" — as if Obama couldn't be both an Arab and a decent family man.

John McCain told David Letterman that Sarah Palin's claims Obama was "pallin' around with terrorists" referred to William Ayers. Letterman reminded McCain that Palin referred not just to one terrorist. McCain explained this away with the words: "Millions of words are said during an election campaign."

Indeed. And some 28 million DVDs have been distributed in major newspapers in swing states by a pro-Republican group reminding American voters that "radical Islam" is at war with the US.

Prejudice is such an effective political tool. It doesn't need facts and logic to sustain it. Prejudice can manufacture its own "facts" which, when mixed with innuendo, take on a life of their own.

Prejudice is an advanced level of hatred. Generally hatred is fuelled by ignorance and cured by hard facts, but all the facts in the world cannot combat prejudice.

Some pundits have turned manufacturing facts into an art form, one claiming that Obama's wearing of a sarong in Jakarta and occasionally attending the mosque with his stepfather's relatives was a clear sign that he "practised Islam". The same pundit also suggested that the name "Hussein" is known to be associated only with Islam.

What we don't hear is the story that children across the Muslim world learn — the story of the rabbi who 14 centuries ago joined the religious movement of Muhammad. That rabbi was asked by Muhammad to change his name to Abdullah, literally meaning "God's servant". And the rabbi's original name? Hussein.

Recently FoxNews featured an "expert" who claimed Obama's work as a "community organiser" was "training for the overthrow of the government". The New York Times later exposed this "expert" as a serial litigant who once described a judge as a "crooked slimy Jew".

Australians have experienced this kind of imbecilic politics. In the 2004 election, an ALP candidate in the western Sydney seat of Greenway faced the same treatment. A fortnight out from the election, one Sydney columnist wanted to know why the candidate didn't explain what the names of his parents signified. On the eve of the election, a mysterious pamphlet circulated claiming the candidate would work for Islam. A seat that was once safe Labor became Liberal.

The Liberal Party denied responsibility for the pamphlet. When the same trick was tried in Lindsay in the 2007 election, one honest Young Liberal tipped off the ALP campaign team. The rest, as they say, is history.

Obama isn't just facing the Bradley Effect. What we are seeing in this presidential election might be described as the Lindsay pamphlet effect. One can only hope that, on this occasion, decent Republicans will expose the fraud.

Irfan Yusuf is a Sydney lawyer and a former federal Liberal candidate. First published in The Age on 20 October 2008.



Words © 2008 Irfan Yusuf

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

BLOG: Faris on Barack ...


Some 17 years ago, I attended a Muslim youth camp in a delightful part of New South Wales called Tiona Park. There, I engaged in such jihadi activities as swimming at the nine-mile beach, fishing at the knee-high lake, playing soccer and enjoying barbecued sausages and kifte (Lebanese mince).

One of the team leaders at the camp was a postgrad student named Mohd Faris. Mohd is a Malay abbreviation for "Mohammad". Faris is a typical Arab name commonly used by Arabs of all faiths and Muslims of all ethnic backgrounds.

I'm not sure how a certain Melbourne QC got his surname. Does he have Arab blood? Were any of his ancestors Arabs and/or Muslims? Who knows?

Mr Faris became very upset once when I suggested to him that his surname suggests Arab and/or Muslim ancestry. I'm not sure if Boutros Faris al-wakil al-malika ("Counsel to the Queen") was, on that occasion, as upset as Barack Obama must be at suggestions that his middle name being Hussein and his Kenyan father meant he was necessarily Muslim.

So the next time Boutros Faris al-wakil al-malika makes an issue of Barack Obama's athiest-father's heritage, we should remind Sheik Faris of his own surname and bid him "assalamu alaykum" as his presumed ancestors intended!

Words © 2008 Irfan Yusuf

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Friday, October 17, 2008

IRAQ: How minorities suffer in silence ...

Iraqis of all ethnic and religious backgrounds are suffering thanks to the breakdown of law and order across the country. However, Iraq's religious minorities are particularly bearing the brunt. I've written elsewhere about the historical experience of Baghdad's Jewish community. Recently I saw a news report on al-Jazeera about the increasingly precarious situation facing many of Iraq's Christian denominations.

This surely must be a human rights area in which both Australia's Christian and Muslim communities must work together. At present, the Iraqi Red Crescent Society is working on the ground. One wonders whether they need further assistance and funds. Perhaps groups like World Vision, APHEDA and Muslim Aid Australia, who have previously on projects together, could launch some kind of appeal for Iraq's religious minorities.

Click below to watch the al-Jazeera report ...



Words © 2008 Irfan Yusuf

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

CRIKEY: Nick Griffin: to visa or not to visa ...




It’s hard to know how best to approach hate-mongers seeking to grace our shores. For years, genuine free speech (as opposed to hate-speech) advocates and anti-anti-Semites agonised over how best to respond to visa applications by Holocaust-denier David Irving. Should they lobby for Irving’s visa to be denied? Or should they allow him in and hope good sense will prevail and people listen to him and realise just how loopy he really is?

No doubt similar concerns will be relevant should the likes of Raphael Israeli plan a further visit to Australia. The Howard government’s attitude to foreign hate-speech was somewhat inconsistent, refusing visas to some thick-Sheiks whilst funding Mark Steyn to lecture us all on how dirty smelly Mozzlems are turning Europe into Eurabia (a decision even Andrew Bolt opposed). Even the illustrious folk at Quadrant have hosted a Eurabia lecture by a man who continues to insist Barack Obama is telling lies about his religious heritage.

And now I’m wondering if it’s a good idea to write about Nick Griffin, leader of the far-Right British National Party (formerly known as the British National Front), accepting an invitation to visit Australia. Am I giving him attention he simply doesn’t deserve? Am I giving his tour some much-needed free advertising?

Far-right fruitcakes like Griffin no longer sound like fruitcakes. Whilst previously extremely racist and anti-Semitic, Griffin’s party has shown a greater degree of political sophistication in its rhetoric. In the lead-up to the last UK Council elections, the BNP almost overnight transformed itself into a pro-Israel party, with one British Jewish leader quoted as saying the BNP’s website is one of the most Zionist of any British political party. Griffin has jumped on the same sophisticated smear casting bandwagon as the dozen pundits recently exposed by a US-based media watchdog.

(Of course, that didn’t stop the BNP website from writing this eulogy of the late Austrian neo-Nazi leader Jorg Haider.)

Racial and sectarian hatred is becoming a booming political industry. Mainstream conservative parties and their pollsters-cum-advisers are happy to engage in minority-bashing. Far-Right parties are taking advantage of this conservative posturing. The articulate likes of Griffin need to be watched. But how do we combat the fires of hatred without adding oxygen or turning them into free-speech martyrs? And how should the Immigration Minister exercise his discretion in relation to Griffin’s visa application?

First published in the Crikey daily alert on Monday 13 October 2008.

UPDATE I: A reader known as "steve martin" writes in response:

Let's face it the World Trade Center, the London bombings and the Bali bombings have allowed the loonies to come out of the closet, indeed even giving their views a veneer of respectability.

When I was at school many years ago one course that was given related to logic. It appears not to be taught these days.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

COMMENT: Andrew Bolt accuses Jews and Vietnamese of living in ghettos ...

Herald-Sun blogger Andrew Bolt has claimed that ...

... Australia risks becoming not “home” but a host community.
Under a blog post entitled City of ghettoes, Bolt cites a report in the Sydney Morning Herald with an emphasis on three ethno-religious groupings in Sydney ...

They show that up to 40 per cent of Auburn and Lakemba identify as Muslim. There are also large Muslim populations in Greenacre (30.7 per cent), Silverwater (27 per cent), Roselands (22.1 per cent), Arncliffe and Turrella (21.7 per cent), and Bankstown (21.6 per cent).

Ethnic and religious forces converge in Cabramatta, where more than 40 per cent of the population identify themselves as Buddhist and Vietnamese.

Sydney’s Jewish population is the most concentrated in Rose Bay, Vaucluse and Watsons Bay, where up to 30 per cent identity with the Jewish faith...

Bolt's emphasis is on what he sees as a Muslim "ghetto" in various south-west Sydney suburbs. Yet Vietnamese, Buddhist and Jewish communities aren't excluded from his slur.

Still, Bolt has done his readers a favour by showing that when it comes to discrimination, he prefers not to discriminate.

Words © 2008 Irfan Yusuf

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HUMOUR: Obama smears are Malcolm's fault ...


The New York Times recently exposed a chap who appeared on the delirious FoxNews channel claiming US Presidential candidate Barack Obama was an agent for comprehensive communist revolution in the United States. You can watch a video of the program below ...



Other prominent American Obama smearmongers and their critics are linked here.

But what would the New York Times and the Boston Globe know? According to the Daily Telegraph's seasoned political expert Tim Blair, the real person behind the Obama smears isn't Daniel Pipes and/or Andy Martin. Rather, the smear merchant is none other than Australian pollster Malcolm Mackerras.
It isn’t conservative bloggers who are fixated on Obama’s race ... but certain leftish pundits.

Yep. Mackerras is the culprit. Mackerras has been accusing Obama of lying about his education at a Jakarta madressa, about wearing a sarong, about being exposed to the Koran. Mackerras has been making an issue of Obama's middle name. When you click to watch the video above, imagine it's Malcolm Mackerras.

Surely after such imbecilic commentary appearing on the Daily Tele's official website, editor-in-chief David Penberthy might recommend a secondment for Blair - to Fox News. I'm sure Blair and Bill O'Reilly would be a scream.




Words © 2008 Irfan Yusuf

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