Sunday, January 28, 2007

Blair lampoons Islamic (and Jewish) dietary laws

David Hicks was a young Australian who grew up in Adelaide. He converted to Islam some years back, and allegedly adopted the name of Mohammed Dawuood. He fought in a number of war zones including for the very secular Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). Somehow he ended up also fighting in Afghanistan.

According to evidence of a military prosecutor, Hicks was closely linked to al-Qaida. He continues to languish in Guantanamo Bay, and his plight has become a national concern and a national disgrace for the Howard government.

According to all available sources, Hicks has abandoned his adopted religious faith. Even former British Guantanamo detainee Moazzam Begg acknowledges that Hicks is, at best, a nominal Muslim. He certainly was never referred to as Mohammed Dawood in custody.

There is, however, a tiny core of far-Right types who will never forgive Hicks for joining a religion and community they love to hate. Certainly, blogger and Daily Telegraph Opinion Editor Tim Blair plays to this fringe crowd, if he himself doesn’t belong to them.

In a recent column, Blair adopts his typical style of lampooning Muslim religious rules. Ironically, among the rules he denigrates is one which Islam shares with Judaism.

As gestures go, this is probably as offensive as it gets; Hicks (or Mohammed Dawood, to use his preferred title) converted to Islam seven years ago and his new religion regards pigs as unclean.

Blair’s lampooning of this Jewish and Islamic dietary requirement raises the question of whether his obvious Islamophobia is also coupled with some kind of latent anti-Semitism.

The prohibition against pig meat was an issue which those responsible for the Spanish Inquisition made much of. Jews and Muslims forcibly converted to Catholicism were forced to hang pork outside the front of their houses. Consumption of ham and pork became a litmus test to separate a true converso from a false one.

I encourage Mr Blair to openly express his true sentiments on the prohibition of pig meat as a religious requirement. Perhaps he could address an audience of Jews and Muslims in Sydney and tell them what he really thinks of their religious heritage.

And if Blair doesn’t regard such prohibitions as matters to be lampooned, he might explain to his readers why he poked fun at this Islamic (and Jewish) teaching in the first place.

© Irfan Yusuf 2007