Sheik Hilaly’s words have not directly led to any violence or social disturbance in Australia. His recent sets of comments have lef to Muslim organisations and influential Muslim individuals calling for his dismissal and/or resignation. Already, his peers (i.e. the Australian National Imams’ Council) have acted to declare his position vacant.
This, however, has not stopped political leaders like Kevin Rudd, John Howard, Alexander Downer and others from calling for him to stand down.
It is arguable that the broadcasts of the likes of Alan Jones, Ray Hadley and others had a direct impact on adding fuel to the racial fire that became the Cronulla riots. These were the worst race riots thus far this century, and led to reprisal rioting and some of the worst break down of law and order in Sydney’s history.
Far from calling for his dismissal or resignation, Jones peers at Radio 2GB are actively defending him. He is also being defended by political leaders, despite having been found by a number of independent inquiries (including the recent ACMA decision and the NSW Police Inquiry into Strike Force Neil) to have made racist remarks that arguably were partly responsible for the Cronulla race riots.
John Howard has gone further, claiming that Jones’ comments reflect the views of many Australians, and that Jones doesn’t engage in discrimination or vilification.
In other words, John Howard doesn’t regard describing a group of people from a certain part of the world as “thugs” to be vilification. He also doesn’t regard a claim that persons belonging to a certain ethnic or ethno-religious background are always responsible for sexual assault to be vilification.
Kevin Rudd says he could see nothing in the ACMA report that should lead him not to present himself on Jones’ program. I wonder, then, if Rudd would equally accept an invitation (if he received one) to speak at the Imam Ali Mosque at Lakemba, the mosque where Sheik Hilaly is one of five resident imams.
Or does Kevin Rudd regard describing semi-clad women as cat meat to be worse than describing Middle Easterners as thugs and rapists? Is he prepared to be interviewed by a shock jock who on air reads comments to the effect that bikey gangs should be called to Cronulla station to attack persons of Middle Eastern background visiting the beach?
Think about it. Feel free to comment. And for those who keep sending me nasty responses, please don’t bother. I won’t post them. Though Alan Jones may well read them out on air.
© Irfan Yusuf 2007