Saturday, January 31, 2009

COMMENT: Between free speech and hate speech ...

Some readers will recall the enormous fuss surrounding Michael Backman’s column in The Age column, which contained two questionable remarks:

*That, through its excesses against the Palestinians, Israel was responsible for inciting Muslims across the world to hate her;

*That the West suffered because of this through terrorist attacks by Muslim extremists; and

*That Israeli trekkers were all badly behaved in Nepal.

The first two claims, while dubious, were more political judgments than racist remarks. There was a fair bit of emotion-charged debate at the Crikey website, with media writer Margaret Simons insisting The Age had some explaining to do while other Crikey contributors denied Backman was anti-Semitic at all given Israeli newspapers print complaints about Israeli tourists.

The Australian ran hard on the story, its editorial asking whether editors at The Age shared Backman’s ...
... [u]ndergraduate, ill-informed nonsense.
It continued:
There is no evidence that Backman hates Jews, but people who do will endorse his arguments and continue to cloak their anti-Semitism in a faux concern for the Palestinians.
In the same vein, I cannot claim that Janet Albrechtsen’s recent claims on her blog that ...
... a significant distinguishing feature between Muslim countries and the West has been our belief in freedom of expression ...
... show that she hates Muslims per se, even if she refuses to distinguish between different Muslim-majority states.

(I myself have gone on record about the lack of freedoms citizens in most Arab states enjoy. However, I distinguished between Arab League states (who make up around 15% of the world’s Muslim population) and other states. I also don’t cast aspersions on all 1.2 billion, knowing that around one third live as minorities.)

But will Albrechtsen’s arguments, ostensibly defending a far-Right Dutch politician’s freedom to compare Muslim scriptures with Hitler’s autobiography, be endorsed by people who do hate Muslims and allow them to cloak their hatred in a faux concern for freedom of speech? Read the 7 pages of moderated comments and judge for yourself.

Or to use language Albrechtsen will no doubt appreciate, being the free speech crusader she is, should the rights of a far-Right Dutch MP to offend racial and religious minorities be deemed more important than that of a British columnist? Indeed, the big question in my mind is this: why didn’t Janet Albrechtsen raise her voice in defense of Michael Backman? I won’t bother holding my breath for an honest answer.

Writing in the New York Times on January 29, Dutch journalist Ian Buruma addresses the prosecution of far-Right MP Geert Wilders. He begins with this observation:
IF it were not for his hatred of Islam, Geert Wilders would have remained a provincial Dutch parliamentarian of little note.
(I can't help but wonder the same about Janet Albrechtsen, whose rise to fame was on the back of her rather creative use of the work of European academics.)

Buruma provides the context of the Wilders prosecution, something Albrechtsen finds impossible to do with an equal degree of clarity.
[Wilders] is now world-famous, mainly for wanting the Koran to be banned in his country, “like Mein Kampf is banned,” and for making a crude short film that depicted Islam as a terrorist faith — or, as he puts it, “that sick ideology of Allah and Muhammad.”

Last year the Dutch government decided that such views, though coarse, were an acceptable contribution to political debate. Yet last week an Amsterdam court decided that Mr. Wilders should be prosecuted for “insulting” and “spreading hatred” against Muslims. Dutch criminal law can be invoked against anyone who “deliberately insults people on the grounds of their race, religion, beliefs or sexual orientation.”
Buruma acknowledges that Wilders' supporters are not all far-Right fruitloops.
Whether Mr. Wilders has deliberately insulted Muslim people is for the judges to decide ... When the British Parliament refused to screen Mr. Wilders’s film at Westminster this week, he cited this as “yet more proof that Europe is losing its freedom.” His defenders, by no means all right-wingers, also claim to be standing up for freedom. A Dutch law professor said he found it “strange” that a man should be prosecuted for “criticizing a book.”

Buruma then identifies the method used by Wilders, and in doing so provides an effective and nuanced antidote to Albrechtsen's simplistic linear free-speech rant.
In a bewildering world of global economics, multinational institutions and mass migration, many people are anxious about losing their sense of place; they feel abandoned by their own elites. Right-wing populists like Geert Wilders are tapping into these fears.

Since raw nativism is out of fashion in the Netherlands, Mr. Wilders does not speak of race, but of freedom. His method is to expose the intolerance of Muslims by provoking them. If they react to his insults, he can claim that they are a threat to our native liberties. And if anyone should point out that deliberately giving offense to Muslims is neither the best way to lower social tensions nor to protect our freedoms, Mr. Wilders will denounce him as a typical cultural elitist collaborating with “Islamo-fascism.”

It is tempting to conclude (as Albrechtsen suggests) that Wilders is merely seekng to criticise a religious belief. Followers of that belief need not be afraid of that criticism. But is Wilders really just criticising a religious belief?

Comparing a book that billions hold sacred to Hitler’s murderous tract is more than an exercise in literary criticism; it suggests that those who believe in the Koran are like Nazis, and an all-out war against them would be justified. This kind of thinking, presumably, is what the Dutch law court is seeking to check.

One of the misconceptions that muddle the West’s debate over Islam and free speech is the idea that people should be totally free to insult. Free speech is never that absolute. Even — or perhaps especially — in America, where citizens are protected by the First Amendment, there are certain words and opinions that no civilized person would utter, and others that open the speaker to civil charges.

This does not mean that religious beliefs should be above criticism. And sometimes criticism will be taken as an insult where none is intended. In that case the critic should get the benefit of the doubt. Likening the Koran to “Mein Kampf” would not seem to fall into that category.

If Mr. Wilders were to confine his remarks to those Muslims who do harm freedom of speech by using violence against critics and apostates, he would have a valid point. This is indeed a serious problem, not just in the West, but especially in countries where Muslims are in the majority. Mr. Wilders, however, refuses to make such fine distinctions. He believes that there is no such thing as a moderate Muslim. His aim is to stop “the Islamic invasion of Holland.”

There are others who share this fear and speak of “Islamicization,” as though not just Holland but all Europe were in danger of being engulfed by fascism once again. Since Muslims still constitute a relatively small minority, and most are not extremists, this seems an exaggerated fear, even though the danger of Islamist violence must be taken seriously.

However, a closer look at the rhetoric of Mr. Wilders and his defenders shows that Muslims are not the only enemies in their sights. Equally dangerous are the people whom Mr. Wilders and others refer to obsessively as “the cultural elite.”
Yep, those blasted leftwing university-educated elites who can only be exposed by their exact opposite - rightwing edlites with doctorates in law who get appointed to the boards of national broadcasters.

So what do I think of the movie? Well, I'm still wondering what all the fuss is about. It's rather ordinary, dare I say "undergraduate" and somewhat "ill-informed". The responses of another bunch of Muslim "elites" can be viewed here, and you can also

My Dutch co-religionists didn't exactly feel threatened by the movie.
The lawsuit against Mr. Wilders has been hailed in the Netherlands as a good thing for democracy. I am not so sure. It makes him look more important than he should be. In fact, the response of Dutch Muslims to his film last year was exemplary: most said nothing at all. And when a small Dutch Muslim TV station offered to broadcast the film, after all other stations had refused, the grand champion of free speech resolutely turned the offer down.
I guess that's what happens when you aren't one of the elites.

Speaking of which, feel free to watch the movie here and judge for yourself. I doubt Janet Albrechtsen would have the guts to broadcast this freely-available YouTube clip on her elite blog.

Words © 2009 Irfan Yusuf

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Friday, January 30, 2009

COMMENT: Andrew Bolt's village idiots ...

Andrew Bolt is back from holidays and making up for lost time. Like many on the lunar-Right, Bolt seems to have little time for anyone with a name like Hussein, even if that anyone happens to be the President of the United States. In a recent blog post, Bolt objects to President Obama's assertion that there ever was a time when the United States and the
... Muslim world" had "respect and partnership ... as recently as 20 or 30 years ago.
So friendship with those nasty evil Mozzlems isn't a terribly nice proposition in Bolt's books. And why should it when, at least in Bolt's mind, those nasty people are best represented by such democratically chosen leaders Saddam Hussein, Ayatollah Khomeini, Colonel Gaddafi, a bunch of Lebanese bombers and Usama bin Ladin.

Of course, we all read in the Herald Sun about bin Ladin winning a landslide victory in the last Saudi elections. And anyway, who cares about the 85% of Muslims who don't live in an Arab League state or the one third of the world's Muslim population that live as minorities? Why allow the facts to get in the way of some decent prejudice?

Nuance has always been Bolt's strong point. Little wonder he moderates such sensible and nuanced comments from such balanced individuals as these:

Frank replied to mh
Thu 29 Jan 09 (07:12am)

It’s a bit hard to be friends with an invisible enemey.

The religion/ideology that is Islam has been at odds with the civilised world for more than a thousand years.

It continues today either in the form of wars being faught in Africa and the Middle East or your local town, suburb or capital city where a more subtle form of ideological control is taking place.

Gradually they will either kill us or out number us via massive birth rates. It is happening and people are letting it happen.

Joel Butcher has an interesting take on things.
Joel Butcher replied to Johnny
Thu 29 Jan 09 (10:13am)

Johnny, the biggest threat to Australia, Australians and their way of life is Islam.

The same as Islam is a threat to non Islamic people everywhere ... Given any chance, Muslims will oppress peoples the world over if they resist conversion to Islam.

Some will harass me for speaking the truth, and some others will say that the biggest threat to the Australian way of life is Global Warming and not Islam - yea right ...

Denying this is like denying the Holocaust, but I guess you think that was propaganda too?

You must listen to Taliban radio for your information?

I guess, Joel, it's about as bad as reading one of Mr Murdoch's tacky Taliban tabloids. One wonders whether a comment like this about another religion would be allowed on the Herald Sun blog. Who knows?

And then there's this beauty ...

We have to consider these things from Obama’s perspective, which is very different from ours.

He is the first Arab President, the US has had.
Parlirama of Dural (Reply)
Thu 29 Jan 09 (07:55am)
Does Bolt actually read this stuff before allowing it to be posted? Where's McCain when you need him? "This here is no family man. This boy here is a good family man!"

If this is the kind of nonsense that even the resources of News Limited cannot stop from being moderated and published on its websites, it says alot for the quality of editing at the Herald Sun. Seriously, the last thing they'd want is to look as stupid as FoxNews. At least I hope so.

Still, there was something resembling intelligence injected into the conversation:

One thing that struck me about Obamas’ spin is the repeated use of the false term, “Muslim World”.
A “Muslim World” is the expressed desire of Osama Bin Ladin and every radical muslim terrorist. Obamas’ repeated proclamation of this falsity is a total compromise to those terrorists and can only embolden them. What is Obama saying, he wants to have dialogue with a unified muslim world with a figure head/leader so they can discuss how the world will be organised in the future.
The reality is that there are many secular countries with a muslim majority, there are some countries with a muslim majority that are run democratically but see themselves as “Muslim Countries”, and there are some countries that are run by Islamic scolars under Sharia law.
There is no “Islamic World”, just like there is no Christian, Buddhist or Hindu World.
However radical Islamists want a Muslim world, they are looking for someone to unite all people of islamic faith and many await the ‘13th Imam’ who they say will do just that.
As far as I can see, by his dialogue Obama is giving credence to the terrorists dream and speaking a “muslim world” into being.
mic of sydney (Reply)
Thu 29 Jan 09 (10:14am)

13th Imam? Something resembling intelligence? Perhaps I was being a little ambitious in my expectations.

More soon.

Words © 2008 Irfan Yusuf

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VIDEO: Hayden repeatedly smeshuz the Kiwis for sex ...

Apologies for the eksunt ...

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Monday, January 26, 2009

VIDEO: HAMAS terrorists get exactly what they deserve ...

This video is yet further evidence that Israel never attacks civilians. Its campaign was only against terrorists.

Here is the text accompanying the video:

Israel's cabinet is considering how to protect its soldiers from international prosecution for alleged war crimes in Gaza.

More than 1,300 Palestinians were killed during Israel's three week offensive, many of them women and children.

Al Jazeera's Amr El-Kahky has been to a hospital in Egypt, where doctors claim the wounds they are treating may have been caused by the use of white phosphorus.

This package contains images that may disturb or offend some viewers.

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

HATEWATCH: Yet even more great moments from Tim Blair's News Ltd blog ...

The Abu Hamza pseudo-controversy has provided the nazified imbeciles congregating around the News Limited blob ... woops ... blog of Tim Blair with further inspiration for laughably inane comment. Here are some excerpts. Try not to laugh too hard.

Barak Obama eating a hamburger (not a Sea Kitten, note) prepared by the wife of a Muslim cleric - in an unforgivable affront to the Jewish and Christian faiths! No! Just the Jewish one. Wait! Which one doesn’t eat ham again? Oh yeah, the Muslims.
bill of sydney
Fri 23 Jan 09 (05:28am)
What the ...? And for all you interfaith buffs, shove this up your halal/kosher ham sandwich!

dowp replied to bill
Fri 23 Jan 09 (06:59pm)

Er BIll. Jews don’t eat ham, bacon, pork or other pig-based ingredients. Not if they’re religious anyway.

Just ONE of the religious obligations MoHAMmed stole from the Jews to try to convert them to Islam.

Don’t you know anything?
But this isn't just about religion. It's also about colour. People with white skin clearly have more conscience ...

Speaking of contex, in the video of the audience there are many ‘non-Anglo’ faces. They all look expressionless as they listen to the hateful Imam - apparently drinking in the message obediently.
But there is one ‘Anglo’ and he has a smirk [of embarrassment?] on his face. He seems to be half looking to see how he should react to the teaching to beat his wife.
Which of these reactions shows assimilation to the Australian culture?
Barrie (Reply)
Fri 23 Jan 09 (08:33am)
Moving onto page 2, some people are wondering why conservatives aren't stupid enough to buy into this tabloid tripe ...

Where are our cultural commentators, Greer of the Long Face and John Pilchard, on this; and, more importantly, where is Malcolm Turnbull, every conservative think tank spokesman and people elected by half of Australian voters to speak stridently against those things that are inimical to our way of life?
Mick Gold Coast QLD of Gold Coast QLD (Reply)
Fri 23 Jan 09 (09:07am)
Even after someone pointed out that even Muslims have actively condemned any hint of condoning domestic violence, the usual cultural nuance and sophistication returns ...

John E replied to ann j
Fri 23 Jan 09 (01:33pm)

The mere fact that the video is 4-5 years old, and yet they still broadcasted it - knowing full well the filth that was contained on it, and the likely reaction by the public - means that the Muslims who produced it deserve every bit of the condemnation that rightly flows their way.

I’d like to think - and certainly hope - that this line of thinking is, in fact, limited to a bunch of fringe crazies within the Muslim religion, but there appears to be very little objective evidence that that is the case.
Meanwhile, it's time to bring in extraneous leftwing ideas like human rights ...
So according to this Muslim cleric it’s OK for Muslim men to beat their wives so long as they don’t draw blood or create bruises.

Then how come other Muslims complain that terrorist suspects were tortured at Guantanamo Bay ? Surely it’s not torture ? Surely it’s just a bit of harmless wife-beating ?

Men can hit there innocent wives but the US can’t interrogate terrorist suspects ?
Bruce Smith (Reply)
Fri 23 Jan 09 (01:37pm)

I look forward to comments from "Augustus", "tim blair" and the anonymous chap from Normanhurst to this post. Enjoy!

Words © 2009 Irfan Yusuf

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Friday, January 23, 2009

HATEWATCH: Yet more great moments from Tim Blair's News Ltd blog ...

Those charming people that surround the Opinion Editor of the Daily Telegraph continue to trot out lunar-Right and genocidal madness. Here are some highlights.
I’ve had enough of the ABC’s pro terrorist bias. Everytime they run something pro Islamic nut case from now on I am going to donate $10.00 to the Israeli Defence Force in the hope that they spend the cash on something horrible to post to Gaza. I realise I will be broke in about a month but I figure with the GFC who cares.
Andrew of Melbourne
Thu 22 Jan 09 (10:13pm)
Something horrible to post to Gaza? How many dead bodies does Andrew wish to generate? Meanwhile, it's great to see jupes has been successfully dupred by what he describes as Blair's Law ...
jupes replied to Rod Blaine
Thu 22 Jan 09 (01:55pm)
This rally was absolute proof of Blair’s Law. Commies, Nazis, Muslims and Greens all rallying against the Jews.
And let no one accuse Tim's buddies of sectarian bigotry, or indeed the Daily Telegraph of failing to abide by its own publication guidelines:
What do Australia and Australians matter when it comes to establishing the Great Global Caliphate? Having successfully destroyed their own countries and arrived in this one, in many cases under false pretenses, most of those demonstrating - and their sycophantic, self-loathing supporters of local origin - consider both flower beds and infidels grist for the mill of the Islamic cause ...
ann j of Sydney (Reply)
Thu 22 Jan 09 (07:51am)
Yep, the best way to fight stereotyping of Jews is to stereotype others. And I wonder what the in-house lawyers at Nationwide News would make of this clear breach of the Racial Discrimination Act ...
I love seeing suburban middle-class white women wandering around in keffiyehs as a sign of their solidarity with one of the most misogynistic, homophobic, human rights-disregarding cultures on Earth.

The utterly clueless misplacement of sentiment sums up the Greens mindset succinctly.
Ross (Reply)
Thu 22 Jan 09 (08:39am)
This is racism pure an simple. Despite having employed not one but two persons to carry out moderating of comments, the Tele has allowed racist remarks about Australians of Palestinian origin and heritage to be moderated and posted in its blog. Indeed, a few paragraphs below this racist comment appearing, the moderator kn own as "Tran" deleted a comment and stated:
Bill, you’re doing it again. You want to use this place as a personal forum. It isn’t. Start your own site - Tran
And how about this moderated beauty ...
It’s time Australia had a serious look at Islamic immigration. We need time out to stake stock of the value this demographic brings to out society ... Even Blind Freddy can see where their loyalties lie. Australia needs loyal citizens, not terrorist supporting bigots.
jupes of west coast (Reply)
Thu 22 Jan 09 (11:56am)
More to follow.

Words © 2008 Irfan Yusuf

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COMMENT: Marital rape and misunderstanding the nature of sexual assault ...

It's been a while since I last read the literature on criminal laws governing sexual assault. In Australia, each state and territory has its own statutory provisions dealing with sexual assault. The last time I studied the NSW provisions was back in 2004 when I briefly acted for a person charged with sexual assault of a minor. Prior to that, I studied the historical development of the NSW legislation in great length during while completing an undergraduate course entitled Personal Injury in 1990.

There is a huge amount of misunderstanding in the broader community (including among law enforcement officials and the judiciary) about the nature and effects of sexual assault (also known as rape). Clearly the Melbourne speaker Abu Hamza also has little understanding of the nature of sexual assault, especially within marriage. What especially frightened me as I watched the video excerpts on the News Limited websites was the large number of young boys and men listening carefully to what Abu Hamza had to say.

One of the best papers I havefound addressing this subject is authored by Dr Patricia Easteal entitled Without Consent: Confronting Adult Sexual Violence. The paper can be downloaded here.

Here are salient excerpts:

One of the only means available to reduce sexual assault and to enhance the probability that its victims will report it to authorities is through knocking down the false images of rape that act to perpetuate it in society ... rape prevention lies in changing societal attitudes about rape and about men and women. Rape is not limited to male perpetrators and female victims; however, it is overwhelmingly a crime against women ...

Rape is not a sexual act. Rape is an act of violence which uses sex as a weapon. Rape is motivated by aggression and by the desire to exert power and humiliate. Just as wife-battering had to be taken out of the privacy of the home and criminalised in order to effectuate any change, rape must be taken out of the sexual realm and placed where it rightfully belongs in the domain of violence against women.

... Sexual assaults are not usually done spontaneously or impulsively; studies have shown that in most instances, rape is premeditated and often involves a pre-rape time period of interaction with the victim ...

The nature of rape makes it an extremely problematic crime to measure. Due both to the ambiguity about what it is and to the societal and criminal justice response, which at best could be labelled ambivalent, sexual assault is grossly under-reported by its victims. There is reason to suspect, from international crime surveys, that Australia has a particularly high incidence of sexual assault, certainly higher than the United Kingdom although probably second to the USA.

... rape by a stranger is more likely to be reported than assault by a partner, date or acquaintance ...

An abundance of research both overseas and in Australia has established that the majority of sexual assaults are perpetrated by acquaintances, dates or marital partners ...

Marital rape has been found to be a component in a high number of marriages that
involve physical battering ... [an estimated] 10 to 14 per cent of all married women have been or will be raped by their spouse. Although marital rape involves more violence and physical injuries than acquaintance rape, the lower rate of reporting can be attributed to both the isolation of the battered woman and to the ongoing societal assumption that husbands are immune from sexual assault charges.
Almost 15% of all married women will experience sexual assault by their husbands. These are extraordinary figures. Marital is under-reported and hence its victims suffer in silence. Indeed, as the South African Muslim theologian Farid Esack says, female victims of rape are double victims. They are victims of the act itself and are then victims of a kind of enforced or pressured silence based on false notions of shame.

Abu Hamza and other Islamic religious teachers should read the following paragraph from Dr Eastel's paper:

A woman is no longer supposed to abdicate her sexual rights in marriage; a wife's consent is no longer to be implied. However, the reality is that few rapes by cohabiting spouse/rapists are either reported or tried. Even estrangement has proven problematic. In practice, extreme violence appears to be a necessary component in the marital rape for it to be deemed as a criminal act. Certainly the change in legislation has not resulted in a flow of marital rape cases through the courts ... [I]n September 1991, a man in Tasmania was sentenced for the rape of his wife. This was the first marital rape trial in that state, although immunity was abolished in 1987. The couple were estranged. Similar paucity of such cases was found in South Australia six years after that state's reform ...
Given the extreme difficulty in securing convictions for marital rape, and given the high proportion of rapes carried out by spouses, the last thing religious leaders should do is make some imbecilic ambit claim that their followers are somehow exempt from the clear provisions of the criminal law. Further, if religious leaders are really interested in women's welfare, they should understand the severe physical and psychological consequences of rape upon its victims.

Words © 2008 Irfan Yusuf

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

CRIKEY: Domestic violence crosses cultural barriers

There's an Arabic word commonly spelled in English as fiqh and pronounced as "fick". It refers to the corpus of regulations derived from scriptural sources. For 14 centuries, Islamic religious scholars developed all kinds of rules from scripture. And for the past decade or so, my "Aussie Mossie" mates have developed a polite way of responding to the more imbecilic rulings.

So when I read this morning of the crazy rants of someone described by Herald Sun as "Coburg's self-styled cleric", I used that same polite response, asking myself: "What the fiqh?" And when I watched the actual video (consisting of clumsily edited excerpts from two separate lectures), I found myself wondering what bits had been left out.

Samir Abu Hamza was shown saying hitting and bashing one's wife was forbidden. As a last resort, a man may hit their wives with a toothbrush. The traditional brush used by the Prophet Muhammad (known as a miswak and which looks like this) is much lighter than your average Oral-B. Did Abu Hamza remind his audience that not a single incident is recorded in Islamic scriptures of the Prophet even so much as raising his voice at any woman? I'm not sure. What I do know is this -- my mum would happily squirt toothpaste in Abu Hamza's eyes and up his nostrils if he tried lecturing her husband and/or son on the merits of even the "mildest" form of toothbrush tantrum.

The second excerpt showed Abu Hamza talking about the spiritual and moral causes of alcoholism, crime, gambling and other social ills. He accuses Muslims of being selfish in not sharing their religious values with others. Apparently, we are meant to be offended by this. Apparently, the Jensens and Pells of this world don't deliver similar sermons.

So where is the real story in all this? Abu Hamza defended using an instrument of "discipline" that can still poke someone's eye out whilst effectively denying the existence of marital rape in religious law. It's a claim without foundation. To suggest marital rape is tolerated in any religious tradition (let alone Middle Eastern faiths like Christianity, Judaism and Islam) is complete nonsense. What kind of sick man gets his kicks out of forcing any woman, let alone his own wife, to have s-x with him?

Domestic violence (including marital rape) is far too common across all Australian communities. The Herald Sun poll asked whether readers thought Abu Hamza's comments are out of touch with Australian values. If Aussie values are defined using crime statistics, well the White Ribbon Day website provides disturbing statistics; for example, nearly two-thirds of women experience physical or sexual violence at least once during their life time.

Yet sadly, as is so often the case, religious teachers are out of step with the rest of us. Some months back, The Age covered a Melbourne University conference where the Islamic Women's Welfare Council delivered a paper on the attitudes of imams toward gender issues. Muslim women deserve not just the protection of the law but also the support of their menfolk. How can this happen when male religious leaders continue to be caught out making despicable remarks? And how can the problem be resolved when moronic tabloids across the land turn issues like domestic violence into yet another exercise in shoring up "Australian values" despite the fact that men of all backgrounds are perpetrators and women of all background are victims?

First published in Crikey on Thursday 22 January 2009.

The following comment was left on the Crikey website ...
Thursday, 22 January 2009 2:53:06 PM
The answer is simple: they are the same morons who kept quiet when Israeli soldiers were committing the greatest of violence against women- wives, mothers, daughters- in Gaza.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has called upon Abu Hamza to apologise to women in Australia. He's right. Abu Hamza must retract and apologise. And he must issue a statement saying that rape within marriage is just as serious and just as criminal as rape outside marriage. Even if he feels he has been hard done by, he must still apologise and retract. Too many Muslim women are suffering due to violence and abuse within families. If men don't speak out, when will this situation stop?

UPDATE III: A further comment was left on the Crikey website:
Thursday, 22 January 2009 3:43:26 PM
Irfan conveniently misses the point...again. Abu Hamza's condoning a muslim man's right to force his wives to have sex if they show no signs of physical illness or injury is nothing less than disgusting and despicable. This maniacal mysogynist and his sickening view of women's place in the world should be loudly disowned by all thinking muslims - including, if not especially, Irfan.

My response to this comment:
Thursday, 22 January 2009 4:03:47 PM
Geoff, it goes without saying that these kinds of absurd attitudes toward women are nuts. The idea that a man can just demand intercourse from his wife is something out of another century. Or at least it should be. The problem is that it isn't out of another century. It's happening here and now and across cultural and religious divides. But when you turn domestic violence into the object of cultural warfare, it means you aren't serious about the issue. You're only serious about it when it allows you to point the finger at others, forgetting that three fingers point straight back at you.

A positive aspect of the Herald-Sun article (which wasn't replicsated in the hard copy edition of the Daily Telegraph) was the response from Joumanah El-Matrah. I think her response is spot-on.

Words © 2009 Irfan Yusuf

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

BLOGS: Caroline gives Indian Parsees a good slap ...

It seems slapping an ALP candidate at the last federal election wasn't good enough for Caroline Overington, blogger for The Australian. Overington now decides that the best way to defend Jews from collective calumny is to impose some collective calumny on Indian Parsees.

Overington disputes the following claims written in a recent column for The Age:
The Parsees of India might provide a model. The Parsees are a very tiny, very rich ethnic and religious minority. They own perhaps most of the land in central Mumbai as well as the country’s largest conglomerate. And yet ordinary Indians admire and
respect them. Violence against them is unthinkable ...

Their overriding characteristic is a deep interest in the welfare of others. They have established hospitals, libraries, schools, museums and many other institutions and, most importantly, not for the Parsee community exclusively but for everyone.
To rebut this claim, Overington cites that great and most reliable resource - Wikipedia - to claim Parsees are self-centred and not as selfless as they are made out to be:
Well, actually no, as this article points out:
Parsi-only fertility clinic has been set up in Mumbai to encourage the community to reproduce itself.

Perhaps Caroline should travel to India and Pakistan and see what important work Parsees are doing in the fields of health, education and other philanthropy before she next maligns this minority community.

There are generous philanthropic Jews, Christians, Muslims, Parsees, Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, athiests etc etc. Anyone can be generous. And anyone can have an ulterior motive for their generosity. Which religion teaches people not to be generous?

Caroline could have made that point without collectively slapping one particular group. In attacking what she felt was someone else's bigotry, she exposed her own.

With friends like Overington, unconditional supporters of Israel don't need enemies.

UPDATE I: It seems that those nasty racist anti-Jewish anti-Israeli Israelis have now joined the neo-Nazi bandwagon. Margaret Simons' blog The Content Makers reports about a rather nasty anti-Semitic anti-Israeli column that appeared on this mainstream Israeli website which apparently is:
... the website of the country’s largest circulating newspaper.
Simons was tipped off about this offensive vicious anti-Semitic diatribe by:
... an Israeli-Australian who ... points out that [the Backman piece] is mild in the extreme compared to some of what is published in the Israeli media.
Here are some lengthy excerpts from this disgraceful column ...
Our reputation – our fault
Israelis' violent, vulgar behavior abroad is root of growing hatred towards us that has nothing to do with anti-Semitism
Yehuda Nuriel
Published: 12.06.08
If you continue the trek a little further, you can encounter the women of the Dao tribe, who have learned to say "Come and fuck me" in Hebrew. Yes, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef was right – these women's teachers were asses. No, actually why insult the asses? Their teachers were plain Israelis like me and you.
The global traveling season is now at its peak. Hordes of tourists are storming Thailand and Laos, South America and Kenya. And the battle has already been decided. The Israeli, any Israeli, has become an icon of evilness, ugliness, corruption and exploitation. There is no use searching for ways to change the behavior of Israelis abroad. This is a lost cause.

Worsening reputation

Travel Independent ( is the online Mecca for tourists worldwide. The website offers accurate, concise and helpful reviews on any destination in the world.

And this is what the site has to say about us in its summary on India: "Aside from Indians you will find travels from all over Europe, USA and Australia/NZ, including as in Nepal/Thailand and South America, a large number of Israelis many of whom are fresh out of the army and seem to do everything they can to further worsen their reputation with locals and foreigners alike."

Travel Independent isn't anti-Semitic. As a travel destination, it gives Israel very warm recommendations. The Hmong women aren't anti-Semitic as well, and neither are the people of Japan, Peru or Tanzania, or most of the western travelers who witness this humiliation.

A new form of hatred towards Israelis is developing among people who don't even have a clue where the country is. An "anti-Semitism" that has nothing to do with God or Judaism.

Years of cultural corruption

For his part, the Israeli traveler goes out of his way not to be identified as an Israeli, not due to security concerns but simply for fear he will not be welcome. And he makes great efforts not to go where other Israelis go, not for the sake of exclusiveness, but simply because he knows that his countrymen will be the first ones to screw him over.

The Israeli pig is the product of years-long and ongoing cultural corruption. He will force the locals to watch episodes from the reality show "the Big Brother" and give them Israeli nick-names just for laughs.

His language is poor, and he is utterly uninterested in broadening his horizons. He is hostile towards Arabs and hostile towards foreigners in general and feels obligated to cheat them whenever he can (empty the open buffet; sneak six people into a double room at night so as not to come out "a sucker.") He takes over drug and women trafficking hubs just for the sense of power and bullying.

And this image can no longer be altered. Look at them and see us: a violent horde that treats the world as yet another policing mission, a destination that needs to be conquered and subdued.

No wonder that in Hebrew the verb "to do" refers both to the act of sexual conquest and to the completion of the Israeli traveler's tough, military-style trip abroad: "I did Bolivia."
I urge The Australian to immediately commission an editorial asking whether such anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic comments really reflect the opinions of the editors of Yedioth Ahronoth. There's absolutely no doubt that the amount of anti-Israel and/or anti-Semitic material in Israeli newspapers has just gone too far.

I mean, seriously! Fancy Israeli writers and journalists and newspapers publishing articles critical of Israelis! What next? Will we see Islamophobic anti-Muslim sectarian bigots like this disgraceful character write and publish articles critical of Muslims, Muslim countries and Muslim community leaders?

VIDEO: Gaza doctor weeps on Israeli TV for his three slain daughters ...

This is truly disturbing. You'd have to be completely heartless not to be moved by this tragedy. This man treated Israelis and Palestinians. He worked as a specialist in both Israeli and Gaza hospitals. He worked to save the lives of both Israelis and Palestinians. In appreciation for his services, the IDF murdered this doctor's three daughters.

Words © 2009 Irfan Yusuf

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VIDEO: Sir Gerald Kaufman speaks the truth ...

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

COMMENT: Amira Hass on Israel and HAMAS weapons

Is Israel using illegal weapons in its bombardment of Gaza? Amira Hass, an award-winning Israeli journalist examines this question in a recent report for Haaretz.
Hass begins by painting a picture eerily familiar to those accustomed (as Hass is) to seeing Israel's bombardment of Palestinian territories.

The earth shaking under your feet, clouds of choking smoke, explosions like a fireworks display, bombs bursting into all-consuming flames that cannot be extinguished with water, mushroom clouds of pinkish-red smoke, suffocating gas, harsh burns on the skin, extraordinary maimed live and dead bodies.
All of this is being caused by the bombs Israel is dropping on the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, according to reports and testimonies from there.
This kind of bombardment has been going on for years. Hass has witnessed it and has been writing about it for years. She has spoken to both Palestinian and Israeli authorities, NGO's and human rights groups, not to mention ordinary citizens. But there is something new about the most recent bombardment:
Since the first day of the Israeli aerial attack, people have been giving exact descriptions of the side effects of the bombing, and claiming that Israel is using weapons and ammunition that they have not seen during the past eight years.

Furthermore, the kinds of grave injuries doctors at hospitals in the Strip have reported are providing yet another explanation for the overwhelming dread inhabitants are experiencing in any case.
Enter Mark Galasco, a senior military analyst from Human Rights Watch. Galasco wants to get to the bottom of allegations against Israel. he wants to see for himself. He wants to determine what weapons have been used by Israel, and whether they are illegal. Israel, of course, is cooperating completely, confident that it will be exonerated.
The American-born Garlasco has not been permitted to enter Gaza - as is also the case with people from other human rights organizations and foreign journalists. Therefore, he says, since he is unable to examine actual remnants of the explosives and see the wreckage with his own eyes, he can only guess or make assumptions in some cases. But even from afar, he has no doubt: Israel is using white phosphorus bombs. That was immediately clear to him while he stood last week on a hill facing the Gaza Strip and observed the Israel Defense Forces' bombings for several hours.
So is there anything wrong with using white phosphorus in battle? What are the effects of white phosphorus on civilians? And where did Israel get this stuff from?
The use of white phosphorus is permitted on the battlefield, explains Garlasco, but the side effects on humans and the environment are severe and highly dangerous. The statement notes that the "potential for harm to civilians is magnified by Gaza's high population density, among the highest in the world."

The fireworks-like explosions, the thick smoke, suffocating gas, and flames that are not extinguished by water, but rather are heightened by it - all of these are characteristic of the white phosphorus bombs the IDF is using. Garlasco believes the decision to make such extensive use of these bombs, manufactured by America's General Dynamics Corporation, stems from conclusions drawn from the Second Lebanon War, in which the IDF lost many tanks.

"The phosphorus bombs create a thick smokescreen and if Hamas has an anti-tank rocket, the smoke prevents the rocket from tracking the tank," he explains. There are two ways to use the bombs: The first is to impact them on the ground, in which case the resulting thick smokescreen covers a limited area; the second way is an airburst of a bomb, which contains 116 wafers doused in phosphorus. The moment the bomb blows up and the phosphorus comes in contact with oxygen - it ignites. This is what creates the "fireworks" and billows of jellyfish-shaped smoke. The fallout covers a wide area and the danger of fires and harm to civilians is enormous. The phosphorus burns glass, and immediately ignites paper, trees, wood - anything that is dry. The burning wafers causes terrible injury to anyone who comes in contact with them. The irony is that tear gas is included in the Chemical Weapons Convention and is subject to all kinds of restrictions, whereas phosphorus is not.

And in the meantime, in the hospitals in Gaza there are people lying in beds - among them many children - whose severe injuries and burns have appalled the medical teams.
But in case you thought HAMAS was innocent and spotless in all this, think again. HAMAS doesn't seem to care much for civilians either. It also has some very strange views on international law.
Garlasco and Human Rights Watch also examine the other side, and he says, "We believe that the Grad and Qassam are illegal weapons because they are not accurate enough to be used in this situation." He adds that Hamas makes frequent use of land mines and explosive charges that are liable to injure civilians.

However, because he and his fellow experts can't go into Gaza, "We don't know what the extent of any [Palestinian] civilian casualties is because of Hamas - whether they are shooting soldiers and their bullets end up killing civilians, or whether their anti-tank missiles miss an Israeli tank and hit a house. We don't know."

In 2005, Garlasco met with a political representative of Hamas and told him that use of Grads is a contravention of the Geneva Convention. The reply he got from the Hamas man was: "'All Israelis are military.' And I explained to them that their reading of international law is wrong." It is amazing, he adds, that the Palestinians can manufacture the Qassams under the conditions in Gaza. The Grad, however, "is a real military weapon, three meters long. It has a significant warhead. The problem is that it is designed to be fired in mass, to be fired 21 rockets at a time, so that you are covering an area and you are having a shock effect. You don't only have an explosion, but also a shock and it covers a big area. Shooting one at a time is almost useless from a military perspective."
There are always two signs to every coin. Or as they say in Arabic and Hebrew (and Urdu and Hindi as well), you can't clap with one hand.

Words © 2009 Irfan Yusuf

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Friday, January 16, 2009

HATEWATCH: More great moments from Tim Blair's blog ...

A certain scholarly person calling him/her/itself wronwright of VRWC left this breathtakingly brilliant remark at Tim Blair's blog on Friday 16 Jan 09 at 06:19am ...
If the Palestinians had an ounce of common sense and vision, they’d work hard on gaining the trust of all non-Muslims (e.g., Jews, Christians, Hindus, atheists) ... But no, the Palestinians suffer from the same affliction that affects most other Muslims. They have their collective heads up their asses.
He's right. Islamic fanatics like Hanan Ashrawi and Victor Batarseh are responsible for the Palestinians' plight. How can you expect a people who are 100% Muslim to get anywhere?

It really is great to see such brilliant minds congregating at Mr Blair's blog.

UPDATE I: The Daily Tele's resident cyber-Nazis seem to be enjoying the limelight if this post on Dim Tim's blog is anything to go by. And as always, Dim Tim can't seem to get his mind off my figure.

UPDATE II: Tim Blair has a friend on YouTube! Check out the sophisticated nuanced analysis from this prominent commentator:

This chap provides ...

Some missives from commentary of Tim Blair
Commentary. From Dim Tim. Pfft ...

UPDATE III: Amazing. Did you know that North Korea has now become an Islamist state ruled by peculiarly North Asian form of sharia? According to AnnJ of Sydney at 10:32am:
I’m guessing that Irfan also supports the stifling of dissent and would prefer to live in an Australia that is more like, say, North Korea under sharia law. But then again, he might only be very young.
Well, I haven't reached 40 yet. I may be young. But AnnJ, like most of the quacks that hang out at Dim Tim's blog, are just plain stupid. What will these poor innocents come up with next? You gotta wonder about Griffin of Melbourne who follows up AnnJ's Korean sharia theory up with these comments at 1:39 on Sunday 18 Jan 09:
The people who hang out here are very smart and funny, the information they provide is relevant and easily verifiable. I learn more and more each time I visit this blog, and watching the discussions here ...
I wonder where Griffin will find verification of North Korea's sudden transformation!

Words © 2009 Irfan Yusuf

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