Wednesday, October 25, 2006

COMMENT: Catching Danny’s Fire at Parliament House

On the evening of Tuesday October 24 2006, I joined President of “Catch The Fire Ministries” and Assemblies of God Pastor Danny Nalliah in a Round Table Forum held at Parliament House on the topic of Terrorism and the Death of Democracy.

I was running late to the Forum, quite typical for people of Muslim background. American Muslim stand-up comic Preacher Moss referred to this phenomenon in his comedy act recorded on the Allah Made Me Funny DVD. He pretended he was a TV reporter covering a hurricane …

This is Bob Johnson from Action News. We’re down here in Orlando awaiting the arrival of Hurricane Abdel Malik. It was meant to be here 8 hours ago but you know how they are!

I spoke first. And at first, I admit I was a bit stunned to discover that my notes were not with me. I’d left them in the car!

Still, I did make some remarks of how I viewed key notions of “democracy” and “terrorism”. My basic thesis was that democracy was perhaps more threatened by our response to terrorism than by terrorism itself.

I took some detailed notes of what Danny Nalliah said. It perhaps wouldn’t be fair of me to rely purely on these notes, especially given that he himself was unable to keep to his prepared speech. I can’t say I blame him given the general and broad nature of the topic.

Some of Rev Nalliah’s comments did disturb me. I felt disturbed that Nalliah was pandering to a certain redneck sentiment which has become the new form of political correctness, especially since the Liberals have co-opted the rhetoric and sentiments of a certain former small businesswoman from Ipswich.

The main points of Nalliah’s speech might be summarised as follows:

1. The mindset of people living outside the West needs to be understood. Virtually all Asians are deeply religious and are quite open about their religious identity.

2. Most Easterners regard people with white skin as being Christian. They then attribute the excesses of Hollywood and other forms of Western decadence to Christianity.

3. Many Easterners who migrate to Australia are troubled when they meet Westerners who are openly atheist or without religion.

4. The extreme Left’s secular push into government and policy making has created an environment of decadence which terrorist groups use to argue that the West is evil.

5. The Christian Right needs to emerge and capture the political and social agenda of Australia. It needs to take Australia back to its Judeo-Christian heritage and foundations.

6. Immigrants need to be educated about the realities of Australian life. Immigrants need to stop playing the victim. They should stop becoming ghettoised. Multiculturalism must be opposed completely. We can have a multi-ethnic Australia but not a multicultural Australia.

7. If we have different cultures being imposed on Australia, we will end up with a civil war.

8. Under Sharia law, it is a punishable offence to criticise the government.

9. Western governments and communities should stop apologising.

10. Muslims need to stop saying one thing in public to the TV cameras and another in the privacy of their homes.

11. Most Muslims may not be terrorists but most terrorists are Muslims.

After listening to Nalliah’s speech (which went around 20 minutes overtime), I was wondering if he had forgotten what the topic was. Certainly many people from his ministry (who seemed to dominate the audience) cared little for the topic. Most asked questions about particular verses from the Koran or sayings of the Prophet which allegedly point to varying forms of violence.

One Bangladeshi chap stood up and claimed he had studied Islam upto Masters level and was an ex-Muslim. I asked him where he studied Islam. He replied in his village madressa (religious primary school). I’d never known any village madressa (or indeed any primary school) to hand out Masters degrees. He later admitted that the madressa he studied in was from the Ahl-i-Hadis sect, which makes up hardly 2% of the total Muslim population of Bangladesh.

An assortment of Middle Eastern Christians stood up and embarrassed themselves by screaming incoherent noises (I felt like Sheik Hilaly and his bodyguards had just converted to Christianity!) about Christians being oppressed by pro-Western governments. Perhaps they expected me to defend governments in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Yeah, right.

In fact, one Lebanese chap who claimed to have converted from Islam to Christianity (in his case, no doubt a happy-clappy variety) went onto declare that Lebanon is an Islamic state. I doubt most Lebanese would agree with him.

One audience member asked me what I thought of alleged Muslim intolerance to other faiths. I told him that intolerance to any faith was intolerable. I then called upon Mr Nalliah to retract the statement he made in his Ministry newsletter which called upon his members to pray for God to tear down Hindu, Buddhist and Masonic temples.

On numerous occasions Mr Nalliah mentioned his Tamil Sri Lankan background. He said that Tamils were fighting for their rights in Sri Lanka. It is quite possible that Tamils were and are experiencing discrimination from the Sinhalese Buddhist majority. But what struck me was that not once did he condemn the Tamil Tigers, despite it being pointed out that they were the most prolific group of suicide bombers in the world.

One lady commented on how Mr Nalliah spent his speech talking about acts of terror by Muslims against Christians. She asked why he did not mention Bosnia or Chechnia as examples of Christian violence and terror against Muslims. Nalliah replied by mentioning that he was told by Serbian soldiers he had visited that Bosnian Muslims were in fact ex-Kosovar Albanians who were allowed to move into Bosnia by Serb authorities.

All in all, it was lots of fun to sit back and watch the event descend into a circus of Christian Right fanaticism and intolerance. I hope Rev Nalliah is provided with more opportunities to speak on these issues. I also hope he brings his rent-a-crowd with him. Certainly it makes for excellent entertainment.

Words © 2006 Irfan Yusuf

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Anonymous said...

I was there. You were incoherent. You spoke so slowly with so many ums and errs that it was irritating. There are illiterate drunk retarded people from the country who can put together more words per minute than you. I understand that English is not your first language and I presume you only started learning it as a teenager but really I'd prefer to listen to a typical lebanese mutilate the engilsh language than have to listen to you and your pompous attempt at upper-class affectations.

You are a bore who has no new insight to offer. Not only does your mouth communicate your basic mental instability but so also does your morbid obesity.

For some reason you seem to sweat profusely while also actually shaking with tremors. I was wondering if you are a recovering alcoholic or addicted to narcotics.

Anonymous said...

anon @ 751, i know all brown-skinned people look the same to you. but i somehow think you have confused irfan for that other tamil tiger sympathiser.

i was there also. danny was simply pathetic. and your criticisms of danny are correct.

Irf said...

Anon @ 1:38, I am not a sympathiser of the Tamil Tigers. I despise their politics as much as I despise the politics of al-Qaida, JI and other crazy extremist groups.

Anonymous said...

I can certainly understand why the first poster chose to remain anonymous. Someone got out of bed on the wrong side this morning!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous should get back to procreating with Danny. Is he out of prison yet?

Anonymous said...

Anon@751 - way to compose a rational argument! Geez if you disagree - just say so - everyone who doesn't think like you isn't automatically defective!

I haven't seen Irfan live, but he can certainly write a compelling logical argument and doesn't seem to need to resort to personal abuse at the same time.

What might be nice at the moment is a bit of tolerance across the board.

Anonymous said...

Muslims Out!

Anonymous said...

Muslims Out...of the closet! Be proud! After all, it's Muslims that opened up our great interior, built the overland telegraph, and allowed colonial Australia to grow inward!

Thanks for your contribution to our great country! And for your food!

Taffy said...

I disagree with personal abuse of anyone, I also was there. However it is grossly impolite to be late, let alone 30+ mins and you were very scruffy! I am not part of a rent a crowd and find your inuendo offensive!
"An assortment of Middle Eastern Christians stood up and embarrassed themselves by screaming incoherent noises" An utter falsehood, the gentleman in question, made a valid point that he had experienced regularly, Imams or Sheiks or whatever they are called, call upon Allah to destroy all Christains and Jews. This was also backed up by another who had converted from your Religion of hatred to a faith with love as it's foundation.
You had the gall to question Pastor Danny on some misquoted statement, to which you refer herein. He put you straight, that the True GOD of Abraham, Yaweh or Jehovah, calls upon us to pull down 'Spiritual Forces'in heavenly places. Probably hard for any Moslem to follow, as I understand it your religion( a set of man made rules and regulations in an attempt to apease a vengefull god)
Have no comprehension of anything spiritual as your prophet performed no miracles!
Ps. Danny did in fact accept your invitation and denouncedd all terrorism esp. that perpetrated by the Tamils, this you conveniently omit! There is an audio recording, I hope to have an address from whence it is available, for anyone seeking the truth versus myopic distorted rhetoric!
I await, but will not hold my breath, for your letter to the Islamic council of Victoria, denouncing them, for their bigoted totally prejudiced, court action brought against the two Dannies. A total abuse of our democratic right of free speech. You made that promise in public, it is on tape and I will hold you to it!
Ps. Danny knew his stuff, the audience wanted some truths about why Islam and the Qur'an advocate death and murder of any so called infidel; as a so called way to your so called Paradise.(ref my e-mail to you "Allah v Jesus" an actual quotation from a discussion in a state penetentiary in USA between an Imam a pastor and other clergy)
Your responses to the legitimate questions from those who had escaped the clutches of Islam, was woeful, just like the 'mealy mouthed' hypocracy that we are fed on the media whenever an apologist for Islam gets on air to defend the indefensible; that Islam 'per se' spawns hated and bloodshed. For heavens sake they can not even live in peace amongst themselves in Iraq, let alone alongside Jews, Hindus Seiks or Buddhists!
However I can agree with you on one score, that USA only has themselves to blame for the disdain they are held in the East, they are blatant hypocrites, say one thing and do another. Preach democracy and justice but fail to practice it themselves, viz. AbuGraib and Guantanamo, just two examples, now extraordinary rendition, people spitited away by the CIA to be tortured by some third country where human rights have zero meaning! QED

Anonymous said...

Why is there always such a vast difference between reality and how Irfan Yusuf reports it? Irfan are you a pathological liar? Are you seeking treatment?

Anonymous said...

Some of the postings on your blog are incredible, Irfan. As a student of Islamic Studies (and I am not a Muslim myself), I can point out a number of gross factual inaccuracies and distortions in some of the arguments posted above.

In particular, Taffy demonstrated a great deal of ignorance about Islam. One of the things that disturbs me most when anti-Muslim Christians (as opposed to tolerant Christians) denounce Islam as a 'hateful religion', and contrast it to their own faith "with love as it's [sic] foundation", is their clear inability to perceive that Islam is NOT monolithic. Neither, of course, is Christianity; there are many different Christian groups and interpretations of the Christian faith, some of which markedly differ from others. Of course, some Christians are intolerant of others within the broader millieu of their own religion. In any case, whilst *some* Muslims adhere to intolerant, or even violent (and oftentimes distorted) interpretations of Islam, others do not. Don't lump all Muslims into one basket; I know many Muslims myself who are devout, and precisely because of their faith, abhor the likes of Osama bin Laden, for example.

It is another typical Christian polemic to state that Muslims do not know of anything spiritual, as their Prophet performed no miracles. This is rubbish. For a start, Muslims also believe in the prophets of Judaism as well as Jesus Christ, and acknowledge the miracles of these prophets. Furthermore, and more importantly, Muslims believe in an almighty God, Creator of the Universe, and believe in His power and His judgment. How, then, can Muslims not be spiritual?! I think Taffy has a very weird idea of spirituality. The miraj (night journey) of Muhammad, as well as the very recitation (Qur'an) itself, should also be remembered.

Probably the most obviously stupid claim was that Islam is a "set of man made rules and regulations in an attempt to appease a vengeful god". Firstly, Muslims see the Qur'an as entirely God's word. Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), the basis of Shariah, may be a man-made construction, but it is a system that Muslims have devised to implement God's law on earth, not at all dissimilar from Byzantine law or of any Christian society throughout history where the law has been based on the Bible. I mean, really, it is an absolutely incorrect statement Taffy has made. Secondly, in Islam, God is not 'vengeful' in the polemic way Taffy has used the word. Just as in the other Abrahamic traditions, God is seen as both just and merciful, to be feared and to be loved. The Qur'an opens with Al-Fatihah ('The Exordium'):

"Praise be to God, Lord of the Universe, the Compassionate, the Merciful, Sovereign of the Day of Judgment! You alone we worship, and to You alone we turn for help. Guide us to the straight path, the path of those whom You have favoured, not of those who have incurred Your wrath, nor of those who have gone astray."

The God presented here is, in His essence, the same as those of Christians. Indeed, al-Fatihah could even function as a Christian prayer.

To cite Iraq's internal conflict as evidence of Muslims' inherently violent nature makes about as much sense as to suggest that civil conflicts in Christian lands (the list is endless - Spain, former Yugoslavia, ie Serbia/Croatia, Russia, Latin America, many African countries, etc) demonstrates the bloody nature of Christians. I mean, please.

And I have seen that "Allah v Jesus" email before myself, somebody forwarded it to me. I can assure you that it has no credibility whatsoever, and was undoubtedly written by a very biased individual.

I could go on and on, but I won't. I simply exhort people to try and learn about Islam, from more than one source and from different sides, before parading around like some expert about it on online fora or in society at large. A Muslim, or any other non-Christian, would surely have trouble grasping the totality of Christianity or any of its finer points in the amount of time many authors of anti-Muslim sentiment have studied Islam (from --reliable-- sources!).