Sunday, September 30, 2007

Bolts in their heads ...

From time to the time, I'll be profiling some of the fruitcake kiddies that congregate around Melbourne children's writer Andrew Bolt. His blog attracts some interesting characters. They say you can tell alot about someone by looking at their friends. Andrew has some rather wacky friends. Or at least admirers.

In relation to a posting Bolt makes about growing religiosity in the Pakistan criket team, "Dane" writes about the political meaning of beards.

... like the burqa, they are clearly hostile
political displays against non-Muslims.

Yep. If you grow a beard, you clearly want to show political hostility toward anyone who chooses not to belong to a particular religion. Having a hairy chin and cheeks means having excess jihadiness. I guess moderate Muslims can only prove their moderateness by enjoying their electric shaver so much that they buy the company. Or something like that.

Here's someone who really wants to put a jihad on the infidels. I urge anyone who sees this man to immediately call the terrorism hotline.

© Irfan Yusuf 2007

Saturday, September 29, 2007

HT and Blair's bitch project ...

Tim Blair has made an extraordinary discover.

Far-Right blogger and tabloid columnist Blair has discovered that Hizb ut-Tahrir teaches ... wait for it ... Wahabism (sic.).

Blair obviously knows what he's talking about. Let's face it. Surely Blair knows more about HT and Wahabism (sic.) then Wahhabis. Clearly the various groups and scholars od Wahabism (sic.) simply don't have the vast knowledge of Mufti Tim.

Next week, Blair will be blogging on how followers of Wahabism (sic.) have decided to join forces with Shia revolutionaries to declare jihad on The Chaser gang.

© Irfan Yusuf 2007

Friday, September 28, 2007

CRIKEY: Falling in love with Twenty20 cricket

In 1977 Test Cricket purists were praying hard for the umpire to stick his finger up when the Australian Cricket Board led by Robert Parish sought an injunction under the Trade Practices Act to stop the late Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket Pty Ltd from continuing with this Limited Overs sacrilege. Three decades later, one day cricket has become a permanent fixture. Meanwhile, the ACB litigation only rates a minor mention in undergraduate law textbooks.

I have to admit that my interest in kirkit (as my very Indian mum calls it) lasts about as long as the latest Billy Birmingham CD. Up until around 1am this morning, I felt much the same way about this Twenty20 stuff as Gideon Haigh felt when he wrote his column published in today’s The Australian. Here's a taste ...

Andrew Symonds came straight out and called Twenty20 "a frustrating game because you can be beaten by the lesser sides", which "have to be good for a shorter period of time". In this they echo their captain, Ricky Ponting, who last year confessed: "I don't think I really like playing Twenty20 international cricket" ...

Cricket lovers underestimate this philosophical shift at their peril. Cricket has traditionally been a game for players, with everyone enjoying the scope and the time to show their own special skills. But this length, breadth and variety have made the game difficult to mass market.

When one-day cricket brought the spectators' understandable desire to see a result in a day into calculations, that balance was disturbed. "In cricket, the players are the boss," observed Peter Roebuck. "In one-day cricket, the game is the boss."

In Twenty20, that boss totes an MBA and a BlackBerry, and his concern is chiefly ratings rather than runs or wickets. Indeed, the format originated on the marketing whiteboards at the England and Wales Cricket Board four years ago as a means of attracting cricket
"tolerators": sports watchers averse to the game who might consider going if it was shorter, sharper and noisier.

A novel idea, this: to redesign a game to the specifications of those who don't like it, rather like creating art for consumers who prefer pornography or composing music for listeners with a taste for cacophony.

But the practitioners' acquiescence is bought by an arrangement reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock's principle for dealing with actors: "Pay them heaps and treat them like cattle" ...

Cricket will make a great deal of money in the short term, money it has no obvious need for and will mostly waste, and it will be left a coarser, crueller, crasser game as a result. Now that the Twenty20 world championship is over, another proverb comes to mind: be careful what you wish for.

Surely the notion of having a decent game of cricket while giving each batting side 20 overs is the stuff you’d more likely see in the under-12’s inter-school competition than in international first class cricket.

But by the early morning hours of 25 September, I'd well and truly changed my mind. Not even the incessant coughing of a newly-acquired Sydney flu (now I know how the horses must feel!) could stop me from being glued to the idiotbox watching India and Pakistan battle each other in the Twenty20 final in South Africa.

This was a game whose result simply couldn’t be predicted until some overweight South Indian lady in the sari started singing. The game had more 6’s than Helen Clarke on an episode of The Chaser. For me it felt fabulous watching an international strike bowler with a name like Irfan. Geoff Lawson’s Pakistanis (among them a chap named ... wait for it ... Yasir Arafat!) batted valiantly.

Twenty20 cricket has combined a host of features from other spectator sports – the loud pop music of basketball, batsmen and coach sitting on the sideline benches (as opposed to walking to and from the dressing room) as in soccer, and breaking open the bubbly at to celebrate victory as in the Grand Prix. There were even chicks dancing on small stages like cheersquads , though they were probably just trying to impress Bollywood heartthrob Shahrukh Khan who made a guest appearance. And I never thought I’d see the cricketers engaging in a rugby-like scrum.

By over number 19, Pakistan were chasing only 17 from 8 balls. Then some dude called Umar Gul was bowled for a duck. His replacement then hit a boundary. The first delivery of the final over was a wide. Then Pakistan’s Misbah hit a six. The fat lady waited until the 3rd last delivery before singing loudly together with thousands of Indian fans in the Johannesburg stadium as Misbah was caught out after hitting 43 runs off 38 balls. India won by a mere 5 runs.

At the presentations, Shoaib Malik thanked
... Pakistan and people across the Muslim world.
Why bring religion into it? As if Muslim cricket fans would only support Pakistan. A rather silly presumption, especially given that India has a bigger Muslim population than Pakistan and two of its players (Irfan and Yusuf Pathan) are the sons of a muezzin (the mosque official who chants the call-to-prayer five times a day).

Sadly, Ritchie Benaud wasn’t in the Central Missio ... whoops ... Commentary Position. Indeed, none of the Pakistani and Indian commentators were wearing any daggy creme, ivory or beige blazers. I’m just waiting to hear what Billy Birmingham will do with their names.

I can’t wait to see the Indians play here this summer. Will they out-do the Aussies? Or will we go down to Zimbabwe again? Who knows? If this Twenty20 final is anything to go by, we won't know until the fat lady clears her throat!

A shorter version of this was first published in the Crikey alert for Tuesday 25 September 2007.

Words © 2007 Irfan Yusuf

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Ahmedinejad and anti-Semitism ...

Why on earth is the President of Iran spending so much time and energy talking about Jews, Israel and the Holocaust? It's as if Iran doesn't have enough social and economic problems.

Yet Ahmedinejad isn't stupid. He knows he can gain some political capital out of diverting the attention of his electorate from the failures of his government.

More dictatorial and less democratic regimes ruling Muslim-majority states also enjoy feeding anti-Semitic nonsense onto their people. Here is what Firas Ahmed, deputy editor of Islamica magazine, has to say on the subject ...

Ahmedinejad is a pragmatic realist, in the
Machiavellian sense of the term. He would not initiate this type of anti-semitic
discourse if he did not think it would help him garner support. And the true
tragedy is that there are probably some who think higher of him for doing it.
However, Arab peoples are not inherently anti-Jewish. They are simply responding
to what their leadership gives them.

One of the few consistent freedoms Arabs
across the region have had since colonial independence is the freedom to
belittle, caricature and dehumanize Jews. If a street light blacks out in
Damascus, rest assured it will be blamed on the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
Peruse a book bazaar on the streets of Cairo and you will either find a copy of
the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” or a children’s book equivalent. The
anti-semitism that Ahemdinejad is feeding on with his Holocaust commentary is
the product of decades of political oppression and economic stagnation. The
ruling regimes of the Middle East have used and manipulated the Palestinian
tragedy to pacify their populations in hopes that they forget their own
leadership leaves so much to be desired.

Ahmedinejad’s discourse on Jewish history is
by all means reprehensible, there is nothing to be gained by revisiting the
magnitude of the Holocaust. The real tragedy, however, is the political
repression of the Arab peoples by their leadership. Anti-semitism will remain a
potent political tool in the Middle East as long as Israel is the only thing
Arabs are allowed to publicly complain about.

When people living in the Arab world begin to focus on themselves and stop blaming everything on fictitious Jewish conspiracies, they might find their lives might actually improve.

© Irfan Yusuf 2007

Friday, September 21, 2007

CRIKEY: Will Howard need to switch to a safe seat?

In a fiery Question Time yesterday, the PM declared: "I can beat the Leader of the Opposition without resort to smears."

On a federal level, that may well be true. But even if this happens, the question remains: can John Howard defeat Maxine McKew?

The polls seem to be improving federally. But in Bennelong, Howard still looks shaky. My straw poll of Indian "aunties", many of them long-time Howard voters, suggests that Maxine may well knock off the PM. If this happens, where will he go?

Will Howard do what Beazley did in 1996 when he switched from Swan to the safer seat of Brand? As Australia’s first PM to win an election but lose his own seat, will Howard have any political credibility left? Or will he have to give up his political ghost and watch Costello take over?

Crikey has learned from various sources that senior figures in the NSW Liberal Party are openly sniffing around for a seat for Mr Howard to switch to before the next federal election. Naturally this will effectively involve conceding defeat and handing the seat to Ms McKew. However, if a seat can be found, it would enable Howard to focus on other marginal seats where he is needed more.

But which seat? All safe seats surrounding Bennelong are taken by senior ministers (Phil Ruddock in Berowra, Dr Nelson in Bradfield and Joe Hockey in North Sydney ) or are safe ALP seats (Reid and Lowe). All except one. The seat of Mitchell currently held by Alan Cadman.

Cadman is a long-time Howard loyalist. Ever since Bennelong joined the growing list of NSW marginal seats, it has always been understood Cadman would stand aside for Howard in Mitchell should the government win the election but Howard lose his seat.

Cadman narrowly survived a preselection stoush in 2004. He wasn’t so lucky this time around, despite having the support of Howard and his Senatorial head-kicker Bill Heffernan. Neither was former Howard staffer David Elliott. In the end, pro-Howard forces allowed Cadman to be roasted by the hard-right Alex Hawke, staffer to far-Right powerbroker and NSW MLC David Clarke. The proviso was that Howard would enable Hawke to run if Hawke agree to stand aside if the PM needed the seat.

Of course, that arrangement was made back in March at a time when the Rudd was still on his political honeymoon and Costello’s leadership ambitions were securely locked away. Now the situation is quite different. Should Howard lose Bennelong, who knows whether Hawke would have any incentive to stand aside?

Howard supporters have good reason to knock off Hawke before the election. Hawke’s far-Right faction has proven to be an electoral liability at both state and federal level. Further, Cadman would rather hand the seat to the PM than to some young upstart. Knocking off Hawke now would merely involve Hawke being dis-endorsed and followed by Cadman handing the seat to Howard. And Liberal sources have told Crikey that Cadman is open to the idea.

But any move by Howard to deprive Hawke of Mitchell might lead to a show-down with David Clarke and the far-Right. The result could be a bitter factional war between two conservative sub-factions – the old Howard loyalists and the younger far-Right still smarting from Howard’s intervention in the Cook preselection.

Watch this space.

First published in the Crikey daily alert on 21 September 2007.

Words © 2007 Irfan Yusuf

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Silly Peter ...

Like many of us addicted to that nasty drug called politics, Dr Peter Phelps can allow his partisan adrenelin to get the better of him. His comments to Dr Mike Kelly, ALP candidate for Eden-Monaro, were over-the-top and silly. Phelps admits this and has issued an apology.

Phelps' boss, Gary Nairn, faces an uphill battle to keep the seat. Time will tell whether Dr Phelps' gaffe will do any electoral damage to Mr Nairn.

Still, the Parliamentary Liberal Party should think twice before hanging Phelps, who is one of the few intelligent (if not intelligible) people left on the conservative side of the NSW Libs. Phelps might shoot his mouth (and pen) off from time to time. But then, such a quality never did Wilson Tuckey any harm.

Here's my recollection of Phelps from his younger days in Crikey on 20 September 2007 ...

I've known Peter Phelps since 1995. He was a
member of the Left who then defected to the Right. He is a very smart chap with
a PhD in history from Sydney Uni.

Phelps first burst onto the conservative scene
as editor of a Right Wing Young Liberal newsletter called "The Atlas" which
lasted some 5 or 6 editions.

In 1996, Phelps went to work for Federal
Member for Lowe Paul Zammitt. At first Zammitt stopped Phelps from doing
factional work, hoping that behaving in a factionally neutral manner would gain
Zammitt a ministry.

Zammitt forced Phelps to stop producing his
"The Atlas" newsletter after Phelps ran a front page editorial calling for
Medicare to be abolished.

Zammitt's factional neutrality didn't gain him
a ministry. Phelps suggested to Zammitt that he become an internal Right Wing
warrior of Sydney's inner-west. Zammitt took on this advice but his paranoia led
him to upset more conservatives than lefties.

Zammitt eventually saw the writing on the wall
and decided to ditch the Liberal Party altogether and become an independent.
Poor Phelps was left high and dry. However, he was looked after and has now
risen up the ranks to become chief of staff to two Special Ministers of State.

The Coalition has little reason to complain
about Phelps, who has always been known to speak his mind, even if potentially
embarrassing his politician bosses. Phelps' latest foray against Mike Kelly is
quite characteristic of his brash style, something he has maintained since his
Young Liberal days.

Phelps is merely behaving consistently with
the culture of the NSW Liberal Party. Here, politics is treated like a game of
cricket, and Phelps is someone who prefers to bowl bouncers. Sadly, on this
occasion, all he has achieved is adding runs to his opponent's run

© Irfan Yusuf 2007

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

CRIKEY: The Guantanamo journalist the world forgot

Now that David Hicks has returned to Australia, most of us will have forgotten about Guantanamo Bay. Indeed, virtually all Westerner detainees have now been released.

Those remaining are largely from Middle Eastern or other nominally Muslim states. Some were as young as 14 when they were arrested. Some 6 years on, most still haven’t been charged. It goes without saying that Guantanamo Bay is a huge blot on the reputation of the United States, especially with some of its closest allies in Asia (such as Indonesia). But opposition isn’t just coming from the third world.

It’s worth recalling in May last year, UK Attorney General Lord Goldsmith called for the United States to close the detention facility. His comments echoed those of his predecessor who suggested that any pressure Britain could bring to bear on the US would send ...
... a powerful signal to the world that Britain supports the international rule of law.
Our own government’s commitment to human rights isn’t as strong, despite Attorney General Phillip Ruddock wearing his Amnesty International badge at any available opportunity.

Australian (and indeed other Western) journalists have also shown a disgraceful degree of silence at the treatment of one Guantanamo detainee, al-Jazeera reporter and cameraman Sami al-Hajj, held at the facility since June 2002.

One only need compare the relative silence over al-Hajj to the prominent and active campaigning for the release of BBC reporter Alan Johnston who was held by Palestinian extremists in Gaza. A Sudanese national, al-Hajj has been held without any charges being laid against him. US officials are believed to have kept him in detention with a view to extracting some kind of statement linking al-Jazeera to al-Qaida.

Al-Hajj has suffered massive weight loss and severe depression. One US psychiatrist who has worked with Sudanese refugees in Darfur has compared al-Hajj’s condition

... to that of Darfuri women in Sudan whose mind suddenly experiences an irreversible decline after enduring months of starvation and abuse.
It remains to be seen whether Australian journalists will rally for the release of their Sudanese colleague.

First published on the Crikey daily alert for 18 September 2007.

Words © 2007 Irfan Yusuf

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Poor Mr Danby ...

Poor Michael Danby. It must be so hard having such a large federal electorate. Most Federal MP's I know are snowed under with constituent matters, meetings, functions and so much more. Plus a federal election is coming up and the ALP needs desperately to win lots of seats.

But with all the door-knocking or organising volunteers for election day or attending to constituent matters to do, one wonders where Mr Danby finds the time to write about what he perceives to be anti-American and anti-Israel bias in the Melbourne Age.

According to Mr Danby, Fairfax's Middle East correspondent Ed O'Loughlin has made lots of factual errors. Among these is a claim that Israel's apartheid wall is not an apartheid wall. So what is it, Mr Danby? Did the International Court of Justice get it wrong? Or has it been infiltrated with nasty anti-Semites?

Speaking of the wall and The Age, clearly The Age must have been so biased when they ran an opinion piece of Colin Rubenstein which criticised Peter Costello's brother for an op-ed piece calling for Israel to tear down the apartheid wall.

It isn't everyday that an opinion editor allows you space on its page to directly respond to an op-ed. The normal thing to do is write a letter to the editor. How did Rubenstein manage to get this privilege within 24 hours of Costello's piece being published?

And how does Rubenstein overcome the enormous wall of bias in Fairfax to have so many articles in Fairfax newspapers? Just this year, he has had nine articles in various Fairfax newspapers.

That's one article per month. Meanwhile, he has only had two articles published in News Limited papers. Where is the anti-Israel bias, Mr Danby?

© Irfan Yusuf 2007

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Using solitude to rise above …

Ever wondered why Jesus spent time in the wilderness? Or why Muhammad went to contemplate in the cave? Or why so many reformers spend time in solitude before returning to join the fight for social or political reform?

When your community is so corrupted, when paranoia and hatred are so rampant, it is easy to regard the corrupted environment as the norm. Sometimes things can get so bad that you have to get away from it all, to watch it from afar, just so that you can appreciate how bad it is.

Unfortunately, we are living in an age when racial and religious hatreds are being generated and marshalled by leaders bereft of genuine ideas to improve their communities.

Hatred is an easy-to-use tool. It doesn’t take a lot of brains to hate people. You don’t have to use brain cells to try and understand them or put yourself in their shoes. It takes a certain degree of intelligence to befriend someone different to you. It doesn’t intellectual laziness and inertia to only identify people as groups different to your group.

We all have layers of identity. We aren’t just defined by race or religion or colour. We are also defined by language, by profession, by education, by other special interests, by upbringing and a range of other factors.

No two Jews are the same. But it didn’t take an enormous amount of work for Adolf Hitler to convince his followers that Jews are uni-dimensional creatures defined and inspired only by a set of characteristics allegedly tied to their ethno-religious identity. Eventually Jews became the people who wore yellow stars of David on their lapels.

Today’s equivalents of Hitler (such as this mob) are trying to convince us that other people – be they African migrants or refugees or Muslims or Palestinians or other alleged undesirables – are also uni-dimensional.

History has shown that this kind of hysteria spreads very quickly. Even in modern democracies like India, sectarian and communal hatred can erupt into violence. In 1984, following the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her nominally Sikh bodyguard, tens of thousands of Sikhs were butchered in Delhi and other Indian cities.

The terrorist acts of a minority of Sikh extremists were used as a trigger by ethnic and religious chauvinists to slaughter innocent Sikhs whose only link to Mrs Gandhi’s assassination was that they happened to belong to the same religion.

In such an environment, how does one deal with the situation? How can you be effective in achieving positive change?

David Davidar’s latest novel The Solitude of Emperors provides some clues. The novel is in fact two books. There is the story narrated by Vijay, a young man of South Indian background living in a semi-rural town who finds himself in Mumbai working as a journalist for a magazine called The Indian Secularist. Then there is the book within the novel, also entitled The Solitude of Emperors, written by Vijay’s editor and employer.

The latter consists of biographical notes on three great Indian political leaders who used religion as a means to fight religious and ethnic hatred. There is Ashoka, the great Indian king who adopted the message of Gautama Buddha and built an empire on the basis of using peace to keep the peace.

Then there was the Mughal King Akbar who brought the followers of various religions together to discuss and debate. Akbar then extracted the best elements of all faiths ro produce a hybrid faith that he sought to promote in his kingdom.

Finally there was Mohandis Gandhi, known to Indians as the Mahatma (literally “Great Soul”), who adapted sacred Hindu principles to develop his theory of ahimsa or non-violence.

These great leaders all went through periods of solitude, similar to those of Jesus and Muhammad cited above. They had to become intimate with themselves, to discover their own essence before being able to understand the problems facing their communities.

I make it sound like some clinical process. Perhaps I’ll allow Mr Sorabjee, author of the book within Davidar’s novel, to speak for himself …

We do not know what to do with one of our most
precious resources, solitude, and so we fill it with clutter … Perhaps that is
what the one who created us proposed all along, it was never his intention that
every one of us would amount to something or make a difference, if that were so
it would disrupt the natural order of things, which would be intolerable. But
those who are driven enough or bold enough or made enough or exalted enough to
look without flinching into the emptiness within will find in it insights
vouchsafed only to the select few.

The great ones were not afraid
of solitude. All leaders of men know that loneliness is a condition of their
existence, but only the greatest of them are able to transcend mere isolation to
find the solitude in which the worlds of the Gods and men intersect. It was here
that the emperors discovered their most potent ideas, ideas that helped shape
the moral imagination of nations in hitherto unheard-of ways, it was here that
they encountered their destiny.

One of the most interesting and eccentric characters I met during my years in the Liberal Party was the late Jim Cameron. Some years before his passing, he told me that one reason politicians make such poor decisions is that they simply don't have enough time to think things through. Politics has become so cut-throat and politicians are watched and observed so much that they are expected to always say exactly what they think various people want to hear. They are more worried about managing the media or managing staff egos or consulting spin doctors that they hardly have time to think. To use Sorabjee's terminology, they no longer experience solitude.

Is it any wonder, then, that politicians are now so tempted to use racial and sectarian wedges to play politics? What do readers think?

© Irfan Yusuf 2007

Saturday, September 15, 2007

CRIKEY: Atwan visa issued ... finally!

On Thursday night (our time), the Australian High Commission in London told British journalist and academic Abdel Bari Atwan that he had his visa.

Thursday’s Sydney Morning Herald reported that perhaps ASIO had expressed concerns about Atwan’s visa application on security grounds. Yet Atwan has never been refused a visa by any Western country. In April, he was in the United States promoting his book The Secret History of al-Qaeda.

One has to wonder what our spooks may have been worried about. Perhaps he lent Osama bin Laden his SIM card when he last saw him in 1996. Maybe Atwan was one of the people Stewie Griffin (the baby on Family Guy) assaulted on the first day of the Holy Month of Radaman (click here to watch the footage). Who knows?

Atwan’s message is summarised by his UK publisher, Richard Beswick of Little Brown, said:

Mr Atwan brings a Muslim’s sensibility to the most important story of our times, while remaining cool and detached in its telling. In the week when Osama Bin Laden has appeared again on our televisions Mr Atwan – who met Bin Laden in the Tora Bora caves – has vital advice for Western governments and their allies in their approach to terrorism. That anybody should be prevented by hearing that advice is a real cause for outrage and a shocking instance of a government ignorantly patronising its citizens.
The problem, of course, is that Atwan’s message – that our foreign policy priorities might actually be pussing orf (as they say in New Zealand) 1.2 billion Muslims -- isn’t what the pollies want to hear. Then again, when Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty suggested our involvement in Iraq might make us a bigger target for terrorists, he was publicly humiliated.

You’d think that after the Haneef affair, which showed up the cultural ignorance of our front-line terror-fighters, we’d be seeing someone like Atwan addressing security and law enforcement officials. You’d think someone who follows Arabic media regularly and has a finger on the grassroots Middle Eastern pulse might actually prove useful to us.

Instead, we have immigration and intelligence officials who are only allowed to tell the pollies what they want to hear. Meanwhile, the rest of us are exposed.

Clearly our leaders aren’t very alert. That should make us very alarmed.

First published on the Crikey daily alert for Friday 14 September 2007.


The following letter was published on the Crikey website on Friday ...

I attended the Brisbane Writers Festival event that Abdel Bari Atwan was supposed to speak at. Until I got there, I was totally unaware of the visa issue. Festival director Michael Campbell introduced the session by saying why he invited Atwan to the festival and then spoke of the runaround he got from DIMIA and how he was stonewalled by Kevin Andrews' office. Atwan put his visa request in at least three weeks ago and was told "it was in progress" and then "it was not on file" and finally "it was in progress" again. He finally ran out of time before a decision was made. David Marr, who was to share the session with Atwan, said it was a bad day for democracy in Australia. He also learnt yesterday that Atwan's file was referred to ASIO by the Character Section of DIMIA. There someone sat on the file until it was too late for him to attend the festival. According to Marr the reason for the visa delay (i.e. refusal) was political not security related. The government simply did not want an anti-Iraq war Palestinian journalist in the country prior to an election. He wasn't just going to appear at the BWF. Atwan was also due to speak to ABC Radio National, the Today Show and Alan Jones. Marr said there was a political
dividend to the government to keep Atwan out of the country. He finished by saying he was disgusted to be a witness to it and said "these people are scum".
Words © 2007 Irfan Yusuf

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Saturday, September 08, 2007

Far-right fruitcake identified ...

Some readers will have noticed that I have started to allow some of the more racist and offensive comments through my moderator's sieve. In fact, there have been a large number of comments that I have not allowed through. With the help of a number of colleagues, I have managed to locate the source of some of the more offensive comments.

The main perpetrator has been a rather interesting chap whose blog can be found here.

I now reproduce some of the nastier comments. My reason for doing so is that this chap has taken the extraordinary step of publishing an address of mine where I no longer reside and a phone number I no longer use. No doubt, he has done this so that some persons of similar ilk to him might decide to attack or harass those who do reside at this address.

I must warn readers that some of the comments are extremely rude and quite distressing ...

© Irfan Yusuf 2007


If muslims are the new $2 jews I'd like to buy
a few.I want some muslims that can go around committing pack rapes, that can be
suicide bombers and who can bring me their welfare cheques.

I'd like them to be able to breed lots more
muslims so that I can be a lying deranged imam with my own mosque of
brain-washed stupid muslims. I'd like a typical muslim business such as selling
kebabs and drugs. At least one of the muslims must be able to pretend to be a
lawyer. It's okay if all the women are fat and ugly. I do want some muslims that
look like Keysar Trad and his family so that my guard dogs have something to
chase around the yard. I want to be able to do my Taekwondo workout on them
also. I need a $2 muslim as a bullbar for my car. I am going to give it one of
those air horns. So if I am about to have an accident I want it to blow the horn
say once every 5 years or so. If I find the muslim blowing the horn for no
reason I want to be able to get out of my car and kick it a bit and let other
drivers kick it as well.

The muslim bull-bar can make sounds like those
blow-off valves or like a rotary engine if it wants. Plus it make make duff-duff
noises at traffic lights. It can also wear a baseball hat. And shout out or
whistle to any woman it sees. So basically any motorist will be able to go up to
my bull-bar muslim and kick the bejesus out of it. This is a public service
helping to reduce road-rage.

To commemorate the murdered ANZACS I will get
out a 303 and bayonet and do a few every ANZAC day. I would like to donate $20
to Legacy plus also bayonet 10 muslims @ $2

I can't think of any other uses for $2 muslims
but I still want lots of them because it's better that I own them rather than
for muslims to be allowed to wander free and do things like vote and destroy
this country.

(Monday 3 September 07)


The problem with Palestine is that it
doesn't have a scenic black mountain rising out of the ground.

Justice won't come for the Palestinians
until there is a mountain called Mount Palestine covered with the black crows
and black rats gorging themselves on the sub-human muslim

If only Hitler was here. He would know how
to treat the Palestinians. A bit of Zyklon-B makes a very good insecticide ideal
for putting Mozzies in their place.

(31 August 07)


The West has now murdered 250,000 Iraqis and the
muslims like the cowards they are are too pathetic and disorganised to do
anything except bleat like sheep. I laugh when examining the Palestinian issue -
to think that the muslim men of the world are such cowards that they do nothing
to help the Palestinian children. Islam and Hinduism are the only religions
which accept slavery. As slavish as the Hindus are they are braver men than the
muslims. Muslims are fit only to be target practice for the US Army AirForce and
Marines and to be the slaves of the Hindus. What a useless stupid rabble the
muslims are. What panicky cowards and hysterically frightened excuses for men.
The muslims are so pathetic they are the worst and most pathetic in all
creation. Some of them are proud of being muslim which is even funnier. A few
American transexuals on drugs would be able to defeat most muslim armies. Even
more amusing is how much smarter every jew is compared to the average muslim.
You people really are pathetic. And no we are not going to take you seriously -
you are losers and scum.

(28 August 07)


The muslim is the even uglier even more conniving
and an absolutely stupid sub-species of the jew rat.Which is why it is
convenient to exterminate the muslim first. If we push the muslim rat into the
corner it will use it's claws and teeth. It is best to use the jew rat to push
it into a corner. That is why complete support for the state of Israel is
desirable - let the two rats fight each other to death. Our sympathy should
always be for the Palestinian Christians who have to live near both these

(24 August 07)

Friday, September 07, 2007

How Aussie comedians made a joke of APEC security

Comedy has the power to transcend all kinds of social and political boundaries to make a point. By disarming their audience, comedians can expose the double standards and inconsistencies that accompany so many of our prejudices. Comedians get away with just about anything.

The dudes from The Chaser proved this yesterday when they inadvertently entered the no-go zone armed with their "insecurity" badges. Police only suspected something was amiss when a man wearing a shalwar kameez (traditional Afghan and Pakistani dress consisting of baggy pants covered with a long shirt), a Pushtun cap and sporting a long beard emerged from a limousine in this "official" Canadian motorcade.
Yep, it was Chas Licciardello dressed as Osama bin Ladin living in Canada. Or something like that. I guess we might find out on next week’s episode. This isn't the first time The Chaser has shown up the inconsistencies that racial stereotypes and profiling create.

Remember when they showed an American tourist filming the Harbour Bridge? He kept filming to his heart’s content with not a single security guard in sight. But when some dude wearing a Palestinian Kafiyyeh does it, security is onto him straight away. The same story was then repeated at the Lucas Heights nuclear facility.

What these comic sketches prove is how easy it is for non-stereotypical looking persons to break through even the toughest and most intimidating security barrier. This means even the tallest fences are useless if front line officers on the ground haven't been trained properly.

It also means that the linking of terrorism with persons of certain backgrounds or appearances just doesn't work.

Racial profiling is stupid. Let's look at Australians convicted of terrorism offences thus far – Roche, Hicks etc. How many sported long beards and wore pushtun caps? Of course, I’d sound like a broken record pointing this out in a letter to the editor or an op-ed. The Gerard Hendersons and Piersed Akumens of this world would accuse me of being part of some civil libertarian conspiracy. Far-right bloggers will accuse me of suggesting we go soft on "Islamic terrorists".

Sometimes, only comedy is sharp enough to ram home the simplest message whose common sense is so often shrouded in hysteria and prejudice. With that in mind, I’d be happy to represent The Chaser gang.

And I wouldn’t charge them a cent. Their good-natured humour is priceless!

First published in the Crikey! daily alert for Friday 7 September 2007.

© Irfan Yusuf 2007

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

COMMENT: Gerard Henderson goes to England to publish on Australian Islam!

Readers will be interested to learn that Gerard Henderson has just released a book. It's a book about Australia. More particularly, it's a book about Islam in Australia.

And it's being published and launched in the United Kingdom.

"What the ...," I hear many of you exclaim. Yes, that's what I said as well when I received a copy of the e-mail from British right wing thinktank Policy Exchange. Their press release, together with a link to the 64-page book, can be found here.

The book outlines
... some of the principles underlying Australia's approach to its Muslim population.
I never knew Australia had some singular approach or strategy. I never knew some special strategy was necessary, beyond treating Muslims just like any other citizen.

The book consists of an analysis together with interviews with various politicians, intelligence and law enforcement officials. Only someone with the excess hubris of Gerard Henderson could seriously consider writing a book about Islam in Australia without interviewing a single Muslim.

And only in the UK would anyone be silly enough to give the book the time of day. I doubt APEC (and its disturbance to Henderson's usual venues of choice) is the only reason Henderson chose the UK to launch the book. Another good reason would be that few Australian think tanks would take such a book seriously.

Apart from a single reference to Dr Nahid Kabir's book, Henderson doesn't site a single scholar. He mentions an article of Nadia Jamal in passing. He spends much of his time discussing the Muslim Community Reference Group, yet did not consider inrterviewing a single member of the Group.

As we have come to expect from allegedly conservative writers and commentators, this is a book in which henderson tries to define who Muslims are and what their role is, without even bothering to have the humility and good sense to consider asking Muslims themselves. Clearly Henderson regards a little Googling and interviews with powerful people as being sufficient to overshadow his near-complete ignorance on the subject.

Words © 2007 Irfan Yusuf

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Sunday, September 02, 2007

CRIKEY: Pauline Hanson and the new $2 Jews

Malcolm Fraser claimed late last year that the next federal election would be about Muslims. And if Pauline Hanson has her way, the Queensland Senate ballot will certainly place Muslims in the box seat. Not bad for a group who make up around 0.175% of the Sunshine State’s population.

At 7:10am on 17 August 2007, Karl Stefanovic from Channel 9’s Today Show apologised to viewers for the manner in which he conducted an interview yesterday with Pauline Hanson.

His interview also sparked plenty of adverse comment on NineMSN’s website. Stefanovic’s co-host also suggested he had also copped flack from Channel 9 management over the interview.

So what did Hanson say that raised such emotion?

She said she felt "very discriminated against in my own country". She also spoke about how we can no longer sing Christmas carols in schools or play them in shopping centres. She called for a "moratorium" on Muslim immigration, and suggested that people who want to carry out female genital mutilation should "go back to Muslim countries."

(Like Ethiopia?)

Given that FGM is banned in many Muslim countries, I’m not sure where she expects people to go. Further, the practice is also common amongst sub-Saharan Africans of other faiths, including Christians and Jews. 1 in 4 Muslims are from the Indian sub-Continent, where the practise is unheard of. But who gives a cr-p about the facts?

I could go on and taking issue with Hanson’s claims. But is there any point? 21st century Australia seems to be programmed to dislike anyone with even the slightest relationship to Islam. Hanson’s new adviser, John Pasquarelli, put it more bluntly:

I think it's better than what it was before, with 9/11, Cronulla, Hilaly. Mainstream Australians are terrified that we're going down the European track, with problems with Muslims.
Hanson isn’t the first person to use such language. Fred Nile used similar language in the NSW State Election. His party will play host to Tony Abbott at its annual convention in Sydney tomorrow. So is she part of some sort of public movement, or is this candidacy just another attempt by Hanson to make money out of the electoral system?

The Herald Sun notes Hanson will make $2.05 per vote should she make the Senate quota of 4% of the Queensland vote. Whatever the real story, the fact remains that these days you can say anything you like about any group deemed Muslim and get away with it.

And if any Muslim dares ask even the slightest question, you can rabbit on about how they are trying to silence you and discriminate against you in your own country (which presumably isn’t theirs). Anti-Semitism has turned into anti-Muslimism. Same sh-t, different smell.

Jonathan Freedland wrote in The Guardian last year:

I've been trying to imagine what it must be like to be a Muslim in Britain. I guess there's a sense of dread about switching on the radio or television, even about walking into a newsagents. What will they be saying about us today? Will we be under assault for the way we dress? Or the schools we go to, or the mosques we build? Who will be on the front page: a terror suspect, a woman in a veil or, the best of both worlds, a veiled terror suspect ...

... Except other things are not equal. Each one of these perfectly rational subjects, taken together, has created a perfectly irrational mood: a kind of drumbeat of hysteria in which both politicians and media have turned again and again on a single, small minority, first prodding them, then pounding them as if they represented the single biggest problem in national life.

The result is turning ugly and has, predictably, spilled on to the streets. Muslim organisations report a surge in physical and verbal attacks on Muslims; women have had their head coverings removed by force.

I try to imagine how I would feel if this rainstorm of headlines substituted the word 'Jew' for 'Muslim': Jews creating apartheid, Jews whose strange customs and costume should be banned. I wouldn't just feel frightened. I would be looking for my passport.

It seems making a tiny group feel very marginalised isn’t too high a price to pay for $2.05 a vote.
(First published on the Crikey daily alert for Friday 17 August 2007.)

Words © 2007 Irfan Yusuf

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Exposing Australia's security woes ...

It really does pay to subscribe to Many regard this website as just another bastion of left wing propaganda. However, many of the writers are anything but left wing.

A recent article by Warren Reed is a case in point. I first met Reed at the filming of a Geoffrey Robertson Hypothetical program to celebrate the anniversary of The Bulletin, one of Australia's most read news and current affairs magazines. Reed appeared on the show as an intelligence analyst and operative working at the Australian embassy in the fictitious country of Nirvana. Reed has close links to the intelligence community, having served as ASIS station chief in Cairo.

Reed's recent analysis in NewMatilda of the Federal Government's failure to adequately protect Australians from terrorist attacks is well worth reading. Here's a sample ...

... the Government distorts the truth, or deliberately ignores it, in a
quest to gain political capital and to avoid responsibility for ineptitude ... a
large number of people working in the intelligence community are really worried.
To them, the Haneef debacle is a microcosm of what’s gone wrong, but broader
issues drive their concern.

True, the Government’s spent a fortune on new staff, training and hi-tech
gadgetry. But without good management this can be badly misdirected, if not
squandered. The most limited resource, after all, is experienced human talent
and that can’t be bought with money ...

Sadly, the Howard government has politicised Australia's intelligence agencies. Instead of hiring experienced spooks, the Howard government is content to appoint people with little experience in domestic or international intelligence.

The nation’s two prime intelligence agencies, the Australian Secret
Intelligence Service (ASIS) and the Australian Security Intelligence
Organisation (ASIO) are both run by bureaucrats with a Foreign Affairs
background. Few countries where governments have a genuine interest in national
security appoint people with no operational experience to run their overseas spy
agency and their domestic security service.

Both ASIS and ASIO were established in the decade after World War II from a
British blueprint. ASIS is simply the SIS (Secret Intelligence Service, commonly
known as MI6) with an ‘A’ added, while ASIO is copied from MI5.

And what are the British doing?

They’re sticking with the proven tradition of appointing professional
career spies to these top jobs. In 2006, long-term spy Sir John Scarlett
replaced Sir Richard Dearlove as the new chief of MI6, while in April 2007
Jonathon Evans took over as head of MI5. Evans had been Deputy Director-General
of MI5 for two years and a career officer for 27 years.

Reed is also concerned about loss of morale in the Australian Federal Police (AFP). He points the finger at John Howard and Alexander Downer, both of whom humiliated Australia's top cop after he dared to question whether Australia's involvement in the Iraq war made us any safer. Downer went to the extent of describing Mick Keelty as an al-Qaeda propagandist.

Of course, our decision to participate in the Iraq war has hardly made the country more stable. Instead, al-Qaeda is thriving in Iraq. And neither Iraqis nor Australians are any safer.

© Irfan Yusuf 2007

COMMENT: Daniel Pipes comments on the human rights implications of the Iraq conflict ...

The head of a conservative think tank in Sydney once suggested to me that I should go easy on Daniel Pipes, a far-Right American-Israeli columnist and commentator on all-things Middle Eastern.

"Seriously, you and he have alot in common," the fellow said with a surprisingly straight face.

I wonder at why allegedly conservative think tanks and newspapers keep publishing Pipes' material. Is it that they share the same prejudices that he does? Is it because they regard him as an expert just because he is able to speak modern Arabic? Is it because he has a PhD from Harvard?

Who knows? In any event, Pipes has been a longstanding supporter of the war in Iraq. Recently I was sent an entry by American investigative journalist Ken Silverstein who cited the following insightful analysis which shows Mr Pipes' commitment to human rights in Iraq ...

Iraq’s plight is neither a coalition responsibility nor a particular danger to the West. Fixing Iraq is neither the coalition’s responsibility, nor its burden. When Sunni terrorists target
Shi’ites and vice versa, non-Muslims are less likely to be hurt. Civil war in Iraq, in short, would be a humanitarian tragedy, but not a strategic one.
Pipes wrote these words in a 2006 article published in the Jerusalem Post.

Words © 2007 Irfan Yusuf