Tuesday, March 13, 2007

On Hilaly, Trad, Attard & Vindication

On 30 June 2005, I wrote the following words which were published in the Daily Telegraph …

Yet every time something happens concerning Muslims, I see a scruffy-looking man on TV saying things I find embarrassing.

Am I talking about the man they call Mufti? No. In his efforts to free Douglas Wood, Sheik Taj el-Dene Elhilaly has earned the respect of mainstream Australia.

And of his many Muslim critics.

What worries me, however, is his alleged spokesman and adviser.

The first time I heard of Keysar Trad was in a magazine called Nidaul Islam.
Mr Trad used to translate speeches and interviews from Arabic to English.

I am not sure about his Arabic skills, but his English was atrocious.

So who is Mr Trad? Who appointed him as spokesman? We are told that he is the Sheik's interpreter.

But does Mr Trad have interpreting and translating qualifications and accreditation? It seems not.

What experience does Mr Trad have in advising peak religious figures? None.

Archbishops Pell and Jensen have a secretariat, assistants, researchers and a full staff.

The Mufti of Australia gets an unpaid unaccredited translator. Is it any wonder Sheik Elhilaly gets such bad press?

I was baffled when Mr Trad made defamatory remarks about Stephen Hopper, former lawyer for Mamdouh Habib.

Mr Trad took credit for setting Habib up with his good mate Adam Houda, claiming Habib would now receive proper legal representation. Mr Trad has no legal training and is not in a position to question the credentials of either Hopper or Houda. Now neither Hopper nor Houda act for Habib.

I was equally baffled when Mr Trad once described the role of Mufti as akin to arch-bishop and governor-general of Muslims.

Sorry, Mr Trad. I like Sheik Taj. But my Governor-General is Michael Jeffery.

So why do the media keep going to Mr Trad? Simple. No one else is prepared or has the time to speak. Muslims are too busy being mainstream Australians.

That leaves plenty of time for redundant public servants with plenty of time on their hands to speak on behalf of one of the most educated and upwardly-mobile faith communities in the country.

So what is the solution? Simple. Australian Muslims (or Aussie Mossies as they often call themselves) have to speak out. If we don't have the time, we have to make it.

I received plenty of flack from certain Muslims of Arabic-speaking backgrounds for writing this article. Among them was a senior journalist, who requested me, and I quote:

Irfan, for the sake of the Muslim community, please refrain from writing for any newspaper again.

Now, it seems Monica Attard has discovered exactly what I wrote about. That Keysar Trad has been deliberately been watering down and sugar-coating the divisive messages of the man he claims to be Mufti of Australia.

At one stage, Attard says …

No, no. Can you give me a literal translation Keysar because he started out saying, "of course".

Later, Attard has this to say …

At this point in the interview we became uncomfortable with the translation being provided by Keysar Trad and so we had it independently translated.

Keysar Trad later told us he'd refused to translate the following comments because he didn't believe the Mufti knew the specifics of the Bilal Skaf gang rapes of 2000. And, for accuracy's sake, we have included the literal translation of what the Sheikh said.

This is Monica Attard. It isn’t Janet Albrechtsen. It isn’t Andrew Bolt, Tim Blair, Piers Ackerman or some other commentator inspired less by accuracy and more on prejudice.

Attard has no history of hatred and jaundice toward Muslims or other Semitic faiths. She presents Media Watch, not exactly a program known for its gross bias toward Muslims.

I now feel vindicated. I hope the senior Fairfax journalist is reading this. Perhaps that person might apologise next time I see them.

© Irfan Yusuf 2007