Wednesday, September 27, 2006

PM’s Brethren hypocrisy?

John Howard has taken the extraordinary step of defending members and teachings of the Exclusive Brethren. His comments came following a Four Corners episode on the Brethren.

In supporting the activities of the Brethren, Mr Howard risks being seen as also supporting alleged activities of members of the sect.

These include: social security fraud, assisting members with breaching Family Court orders, not to mention taxation and stamp duty fraud.

Howard has frequently spoken about the alleged inability of Muslim groups to integrate and adopt Australian values. He is now supporting the right of a fringe Christian sect to deliberately not integrate into the broader Australian community.

Would Mr Howard defend a fringe Muslim group which engaged in similar activities? And why has Mr Howard taken a view different to that of the NZ National party leader Dr Brash?

Howard’s inconsistency could well be viewed as hypocrisy.Or is his stand related to the fact that sect leader runs a business in West Ryde, in the PM's electorate?

© Irfan Yusuf 2006

Munira Mirza’s visit to Australia

The Centre for Independent Studies, a non-partisan conservative/liberal/libertarian think tank, is inviting Munira Mirza to speak on the topic of “The Politics of Difference – Multiculturalism & The Rise of Islamism” on 11 October 2006. I’m not sure whether the CIS chose the topic or whether it was chosen by Mirza herself.

Mirza is an associate fellow for the UK conservative think tank “Policy Exchange”. The think tank will be hosting a number of events at the Conservative Party’s conference in October.

Here’s how Policy Exchange describes Mirza:

Munira Mirza writes and broadcasts on issues related to multiculturalism, cultural identity and urban regeneration. She is an arts consultant for the London East Research Institute and is currently working on her PhD at the University of Kent … She edited the Policy Exchange report Culture Vultures in February 2006. Munira is also part of the Manifesto Club, which will launch in November 2006.

Mirza has an impressive background in English literature and the Arts. Her views on cultural policy are well worth reading, especially her chapter in the Culture Vultures report entitled “The arts as painkiller”.

The CIS’s invitation of Mirza sounds like a positive development. Up until now, most speakers they've invited to talk about political Islam have hardly been experts in the field. Indeed, most have been neo-conservative cultural warriors like Mark Steyn and Daniel Pipes. These speakers have tended to use the CIS podium to sprout conspiracy theories about Muslim minorities as opposed to getting to the heart of the problem.

Still, the CIS has also invited some excellent speakers like Muhammad Fajrul Falaakh, a senior lawyer from Indonesia's prestigious Gadjah Mada University and a leading figure in Nahdhatul Ulama, the world's largest Islamic organisation.

Hopefully Mirza will be able to avoid the sentiments so typical of monocultural revolutionaries like Steyn. Still, it is questionable how much the UK Muslim experience can be transferred to Australia, which has a much more multicultural and less socially and economically disadvantaged Muslim community than the UK Muslim community.

© Irfan Yusuf 2006