Wednesday, March 26, 2008

EVENTS: presents In Conversations II

This is a free event. Come along and contribute your ideas and thoughts on this interesting topic:

Who Can You Trust?
Who is a credible source online?

With the proliferation of blogging, amateur experts and user generated content- has the investigative journalist become redundant?


Jackie Dent: ABC Opinion Online & UN Afghanistan spokesperson

Antony Lowenstein: Author of My Israel Question, journalist, blogger

Edmund Tadros: & investigative journalist

Tom McLoughin: Sydney Alternative Media- blog

Chaired by Wendy Bacon, investigative journalist & UTS academic

Venue: Building 4, Level 2. Lecture Theatre 34 (4.2.34) University Of Technology Sydney, 15 Broadway, Ultimo.

Time: 6pm for a 6.30pm start

Date: Wednesday, April 2 2008

RSVP: by email or phone: 02 9211 1635 by Monday March 31.

CRIKEY: Hang on a minute! Neo-con half-truths under the microscope ...

Neo-cons and the missing Muslim turned Catholic. There’s been some hoo-haa over the Pope overseeing the baptism of an Italian ex-Muslim commentator Magdi Cristiano Allam during the Vatican Easter service. Apparently neo-Cons across cyberspace are expecting monolithically violent responses from the Muslim world, much like the response that we’re still waiting for after neo-Con Daniel Pipes revealed that Barack Obama was allegedly once a Muslim. The problem is that I haven’t found a single media outlet from the nominally Muslim world making a fuss. One Jordanian chap has labelled the baptism "provocative", hardly a declaration of World War III. Most of the sectarian noise is being made by neo-Con sites like and National Review (and understandably from Catholic religious publications). In Australia, only Piersed Akurmen has thus far registered Allam on his radar. Still, let’s hope imbecilic and undemocratic rulers of Muslim states don’t orchestrate a repeat of the violent responses to the Danish cartoons...

Speaking out through keeping mum at the Daily Tele. The Daily Telegraph has an interesting definition of "speaking out". Its report on the Lindsay leaflet debacle today claims the women at the heart of the incident "spoke out yesterday". There’s just one problem: both former Federal Liberal MP for Lindsay Jacky Kelly and former candidate Karen Chijoff said absolutely nothing. Kelly even went so far as to remind the Tele that she was no longer an MP and therefore wouldn’t be talking about her private life. Chijoff refused to say anything beyond what we already have known for months – that she is no longer with her husband. As for former NSW Liberal Party State Executive member and former Helen Coonan staffer Jeff Egan, he didn’t even return calls. Now that’s what I call speaking out!

Challenging Janet (again). Janet Albrechtsen today continues with her obsessive monoculturalism, writing about stringent citizenship tests which the UK government has adopted, apparently following the Australian model. She doesn’t mention whether the tests will be multiple-choice and include questions about Don Bradman or English illegal immigrant Simpson and his donkey. She also mentions reports of Somali traditional courts in the UK deciding even criminal cases, as well as FGM. All this is mentioned in the context of Rowan Williams’ comments about sharia law. Is Albrechtsen claiming the Somali courts and the practise of FGM are religiously-based? If so, how does she explain that FGM is also prevalent amongst Christian, Jewish and Animist African communities? And why doesn’t she also mention the fact that American legal academic Noah Feldman mentioned in a recent essay for the New York Times Magazine i.e. that each time Dr Williams spoke about sharia, he specifically states his remarks applied equally to Jewish sacred law? Or does Janet think Jewish sacred law has no role in our Judeo-Christian heritage?

(First published in the Crikey daily alert for Wednesday 26 March 2008.)

Words © Irfan Yusuf 2008

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Get Flocked

COMMENT: Where the bloody hell's my police protection?

Apparently over the Easter break, an Egyptian chap decided to convert to Roman Catholicism. His baptism was performed by the Pope.

No, not the Egyptian Pope. Not His Holiness Pope Shenoudah III. Rather, by that other Pope. The one Shanudah’s followers regard as an imposter.

Magdi Allam, an Italian writer of Egyptian Muslim heritage, is now known as Christian Allam. He has made his declaration public and has proceeded to make claims about his ancestral faith that would make migration fraudster Ayaan Hirsi Magaan proud.

ABC via Reuters reported that Allam ...

... has lived under police protection following threats against him, particularly after he criticised Iran's position on Israel.
Without meaning to sound like the future wife of a future Australian cricket captain, I’d like to know where the bloody hell is my police protection. After all, I’ve publicly criticised Iran’s position on Israel on numerous occasions.

For instance, a piece authored by me and entitled “Iran’s infantile attitude to Israel” was published on the Online Opinion site on 3 November 2005. Another piece of similar import was published in the New Zealand Herald some 24 hours earlier. Here's an excerpt of what I said there ...

The Iranian President's comments are more reminiscent of Crusader barbarism and ignorance than the moderation and tolerance of the great Saladdin. If Muslim nations follow the Iranian formula in their dealings with Israel, they will go down the same path of destruction as the medieval Frankish hordes that invaded the Holy Land.
i've also written extensively on why the governments of Muslim-majority states should recognise Israel. One such article was published in the New Zealand Herald on Thursday August 16 2007, and another was published recently on the ABC Unleashed portal on 20 March 2008.

Still, it's no skin off my spiritual nose if Christian Allam wants to become a Catholic. No doubt many of his Christian countrymen will have wished he'd picked a more orthodox denomination. My old school chaplain, who frequently told us that the Beast 666 in the Book of Revelation referred to the Pope, will probably still regard Allam as anything but a Christian.

People adopt and change religions all the time. It's a private decision. Mr Allam may claim that he will be the subject of death threats, but he certainly won't be getting any from me.

Thus far, I haven't found a single report of a death threat against Mr Allam. Nor has there ben any substantial report of his conversion in any Muslim newspaper or major newspaper of a Muslim-majority state. Admittedly, I have only searched through the English langauge press. The vast bulk of the reporting and editorialising has been from far-Right and/or Muslim-phobic publications such as National Review Online and

It seems the violent responses from Muslims are a product of Allam's inflated view of his own importance and the active imaginations of cultural warriors. The fact is that many if not most Muslims would never heard of Allam until news spread of his conversion. Just as many of us had never heard of Usama bin Ladin until September 11.

I wish Allam well. He is entitled to make his religious choices. No doubt if he were a true Catholic and a true Christian, he would show compassion to both his former and current co-religionists. He will not allow his conversion to be used to spread racist and sectarian perversion. Nor will he play the extreme anti-religion rhetorical games of the likes of Ayaan Hirsi Magaan.

Words © Irfan Yusuf 2008