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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