I did say in my last post that I was taking a short break from writing and blogging. But now I think I'll take a short break from my break. Not much happens here in central Queensland (apart from work and the odd thunderstorm).
African migrants seem to be getting the raw end of the police racism stick in Victoria. The Oz reports of the results of a study by a Community Legal Centre in Melbourne about complaints of racism by African migrants against Victorian police, many of which resulted in cover charges.
The same CLC has reported on police attacks on other new Australian communities such as Afghans.
Police behaviour reported to the legal centre includes assaults requiring hospitalization of victims, punitive beatings of handcuffed or otherwise restrained people, unlawful imprisonment, acts of torture and brutality within police stations, excessive use of force, unlawful searches, threats of sexual violence, unjustified use of capsicum spray, strip searches conducted after such threats are made, searches in unjustified and humiliating circumstances, racist and sexist comments, thefts of money and mobile phones, loss of vehicles, harassment, degrading and humiliating conduct and ill-treatment against racial and religious minorities. In some of the reports, children as young as 10 have been assaulted and mothers sprayed with capsicum spray.
This is disturbing stuff. Citizens should be treated as individuals in a liberall democracy, not lumped together and mistreated based on personal characteristics beyond their control. Allegations of police racism and brutality also undermine the rule of law which forms a bedrock of any civilised society.
Miriam Cosic has written a terrific piece about the Athiest Convention recently held in Melbourne, the same city where the multi-million dollar Parliament of World Religions was recently held. Atheists of varying degrees of evangelical fervour were present, among them the Ayatollah of unbelievers Richard Dawkins. Here's a great few lines:
"I don't think we should go out of our way to insult Islam because it doesn't do any good to get your head cut off," he continued. "But we should always say that I may refrain from publishing a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed, but it's because I fear you. Don't for one moment think it's because I respect you."
Taslima Nasreen, Bangladesh's answer to Salman Rushdie, was also present along with 3 security guards (who were probably Muslim!). Among other things, she said:
"All religion, but particularly Islam, is for the interests and comfort of men," she said, "Why would women believe in any religion?"
She should pose that question to my mother. And be prepared for extra chilli in the biryani.
Nasreen also expressed these sentiments:
India, the country that likes to think of itself as the largest democracy in the world, she pointed out, placed the religious rights of its Muslim minority above her freedom of expression.
Perhaps a more nuanced approach to Nasreen's experiences in India can be found here. The fact that she jumped into bed with the Hindu far-Right that persecutes not just Muslims but also Catholics doesn't do wonders for her liberal credentials.
Greg Sheridan, recipient of the Jerusalem Prize from a pro-Israel lobby group, thinks the Rudd government criticised Israel too much over the fake passports affair. He also thinks that building homes on other people's land isn't such a bad idea. No doubt he'll be donating both his passport and his backyard to the cause.
Words © 2010 Irfan Yusuf
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