I’m sure readers will remember that show National Bingo Night. Readers of South Asian heritage will have particularly fond memories of the Bingo Commissioner who kicked so many goals for their ancestral culture in Australia with this classic performance.
How could we ever not forget?
Dr Tanveer Ahmed had more than just failed TV game shows in his comedic repertoire. Indeed, perhaps his best comic performance has been convincing the neo-Conservative Centre for Independent Studies (CIS) that he is also an eminently qualified to be appointed a visiting fellow with research interests in:
… Islamic affairs, South Asia and the health sector.
Ahmed’s expertise in and contributions to psychiatry are well documented. His latest contribution to Islamic affairs (whatever that phrase means) consists of a review of the book by yours truly, published in the Spring 2009 edition of Policy magazine published by the CIS.
Normally I wouldn’t waste $9.95 on this allegedly intellectual magazine. However, it had one of my all-time favourite writers - PJ O’Rourke - on the cover. Yet as I found out after I had parted with my cash, all they had from PJ was an interview he did with some bloke who does a radio show on Radio National. I could have just as easily read the same interview online on the ABC website for free! Indeed, I had already downloaded the podcast back in May!!
Anyway, Ahmed’s review makes interesting reading for his complete objectivity. He sticks to the issues. He avoids making personal attacks. He’s not interested in innuendo. Consider this paragraph:
Yusuf also fits the profile of those vulnerable to radicalisation in other ways, for it is the socially awkward who are most likely to turn to Islamist teachings for a sense of social connectedness, in much the same way that other disaffected adolescents may become punks or Goths. Yusuf writes of being bullied because of the colour of his skin while in primary school. He is also obese. In a recent New York Times op-ed piece, an Iranian blogger captured it beautifully when he describes the religious police as ‘those young men least likely to ever attract the opposite sex but then find the government tells them they are special and gives them guns to prove it.’
Ahmed continues with this prediction:
Yusuf will remain controversial and disliked by many, including some Muslims.
Yes, I am disliked by the likes of Keysar Trad, Andrew Bolt, Mark Steyn, Daniel Pipes, Tim Blair and Tanveer Ahmed. The latter two seem to relish making references to my physique. It is true. I am fat. Still, my message to them is ...
And for some ailments there is NOOOOOOOOOOOO cure. Not even if you are a medical practitioner.
UPDATE I: Speaking of Daniel Pipes, Ahmed's review describes Pipes as a "US Middle East expert". Ahmed famously shared the podium with Pipes arguing the proposition that Islam and democracy are incompatible. To argue that Islam and democracy are incompatible implies that Muslims cannot live as productive citizens in a democracy. Given that Pipes seems to believe that Barack Obama was (and possibly still is) a Muslim, one wonders how Pipes can explain a current or former Muslim now becoming President of arguably the world's most successful democracy.
UPDATE II: An interesting discussion on Tanveer's review can be found at the blog of Policy editor Andrew Norton here.
Words © 2009 Irfan Yusuf
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