Wednesday, February 16, 2011

COMMENT: Things I learned about the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) over the years

There's this scary creature in Egypt that has spread its testi ... woops ... tentacles across the world. It's a huge conspiracy that wants to transform each and every part of the planet into one huge bearded caliphate. Soon each nation will covered in a massive black burqa. At this time, no man will be allowed to lodge a develop application at their local council unless it makes provisions for a huge dome and at least 5 minarets surrounding each building.

Okay, now that I got that Murdochian bullshit out of my system, here are some things I've learned recently about Egypt's largest and most organised opposition movement:

[01] Here are some excerpts of what one Israeli neo-Con writes about the MB. I think he is surprisingly accurate in his assessment. Then again, I cannot read the original Arabic sources on the MB.

[02] One of the main ideologues of the MB during the 1950's was Syed Qutb. He was imprisoned by the military regime led by Neguib and then Nasser. Qutb was not a trained religious scholar but rather more of an intellectual. In prison he underwent severe forms of torture and was eventually executed. Qutb was one of numerous MB figures imprisoned by Nasser after the latter just dodged an assassination in Alexandria by an MB person. Nasser was a rather paranoid chap who assumed the entire MB was involved in some huge conspiracy to kill him. Believe it or not, Qutb did go to the United States, but found the experience extremely troubling.

[03] Qutb's books are widely available in the West and have been since the 1970's when the Saudis started spending petrodollars on spreading various forms of Islam they found friendly. The Saudis have always been big sponsors of MB.

[04] Among the most popular works of Qutb is his commentary of the Qur'an which has been translated as In the Shade of the Qur'an. Its English translation is widely available in bookshops across the Western world. Also widely available are other Qutb books such as Milestones which is also easily available on the internet.

[05] Qutb's works became especially popular during Ronald Reagan's Afghan jihad against the Soviet Union. MB activists took an active role in that conflict, and their literature was widely available.

[06] It is commonly claimed that Qutb was the founder of, if not the inspiration for, al-Qaida and other like-minded violent terror outfits. In a sense this is true. Bin Ladin and his colleagues do refer to Qutb. However, many peaceful political Muslim movements also make reference to Qutb.

[07] It is also claimed that Qutb is a founder or ideologue of the Salafi sect. I'm not sure what denomination of Sunni Islam Qutb belonged to or whether he subscribed to some form of Salafi/Wahhabi thinking. But I do know that many Wahhabis have attacked him for being akin to a Marxist.

[08] The MB have been active in Egypt since the 1950's. They gained a large following and infiltrated the Egyptian army. They were known to be a conservative rightwing party and were supported by both the Saudis and the British due to their strong anti-Communist stance.

COMMENT: Things I learned about asylum seekers today

Here is a summary of learnings I gained from various smart, important and influential people today on the subject of asylum seekers today:

[01] If you pay for the funeral of a dead asylum seeker, it just encourages more of them to jump on boats.

[02] If an asylum seeker wants to bury their 9 month child at taxpayers' expense, s/he needs to come up with a decent policy proposal.

[03] Funerals cost so much money, and we should all be angry. They explains why Scotty Morrison remarked on Macquarie Radio:

I know probably more than anyone how strongly people feel about this issue, how angry they get about the costs that are involved. I share that anger, and I want to see that changed ...

Funeral directors can look forward to tough times ahead.

[04] Both compassion and sex are not beyond budgetary constraints. As Barnaby Joyce correctly remarked, the price of compassion is ...

... not limitless. You can't do it with a completely open cheque book.

I'd hate to do it with a chequebook fullstop!

[05] We need to have an asylum policy that favours Christians over Muslims. We don't have that at the moment. Hence you have this kind of thing happening:

At Castlebrook Cemetery in Rouse Hill, five more coffins were lowered into the ground; a husband and wife, their young son and daughter and an aunt. A little girl in a purple dress and leggings stood out against eight weeping family members and friends dressed in black.

The victims were Protestants from Iran. "They had dreams of a better life and they came to our country searching for something,'' said the Reverend David Misztal from St Jude's Anglican Church, Dural. ''They desperately wanted a place to call home."

This would never have happened if we had a pro-Christian asylum policy. But we still shouldn't pay for the funerals.

OPINION: Prejudice among our pollies is alive and well

Tony Abbott doesn’t have much talent to choose from, IRFAN YUSUF writes

It's official. Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi doesn't like halal meat. He argues halal slaughter contradicts his values and he doesn't see why he should have to put up with it.

I too am a victim of halal slaughter. My first experience with it left me severely traumatised. It was 1977 and I was a wee lad of seven. It was the festival of Eid al-Adha, a time each year when Muslims celebrate Abraham's preparedness to sacrifice his son. (Seriously, what kind of value system is that? Middle Eastern people prepared to kill their own kids should be locked up and deported!)

Our family were invited to the farm of a Pakistani doctor in Newcastle for what I was told would be a nice barbecue and a chance to play with some animals. After a four-hour drive along the long and winding Pacific Highway, we finally reached the farm. There was no barbecue in sight. One of the Indian uncles asked:

"Where is lunch, Doctor Sahib?"

“Lunch is out there on the paddock. There are enough animals for each family.”

Within minutes, I saw my parents and a host of uncles in their safari suits and aunties in their saris running in the general direction of the lambs and goats. The poor animals recognised the nefarious intentions of these men and women, and ran for their lives. The little lambs looked rather skinny; if anything, there was more meat visibly hanging from between the sari cloth of the aunties!

One or two lambs were finally caught. Their throats were cut in my presence. I cried, not just for the poor lambs but also because, instead of barbecue, the meat was placed into large pots and mixed with chilli and spice to make traditional Indian casseroles. No fair dinkum seven-year-old Aussie kid can stomach that!

By now, I felt like vomiting instead of eating. To make matters worse, the remaining animals were too afraid to play.

The experience wasn't enough to make me a vegetarian, though eating meat from an animal I had seen slaughtered was now out of the question.

Still, someone has to slaughter the animal. Meat doesn't grow on trees.

So when I read Bernardi's recent comments in the Herald Sun, I couldn't help but wonder if he too was at that pseudo-barbecue in Newcastle. He told the Herald Sun that halal slaughtering ...

... is anathema to my own values.

And what values are they?

Cory isn't terribly good at declaring what he is. A look at his website shows he's much better at telling us what he isn't. He is one of numerous Liberals who have followed the Tea Party line, replacing political correctness with political erectness, a kind of macho ideology in which people work themselves into an ideological frenzy.

Most conservative politicians (and ideologues, editors and columnists) think that the only way to prove you are really conservative is to reach positions on all issues that are completely opposite to what anyone they deem "the Left" would come up with.

Bernardi waxes unlyrical about people he describes as “Islamists”. Among their characteristics is their “insistence of consuming Halal food”. Those Bernardi describes as “moderate Muslims” don't share this fixation with cutting throats.

I wonder what Bernardi makes of “Judaists”, who share this fixation with an identical form of slaughter. Indeed, “Judaists” go much further, as anyone who has kept a kosher kitchen would know.

A good friend of mine is a “Judaist”, and everywhere he goes he carries plastic utensils and refuses to eat meat offered to him. Apparently these “Judaists” don't believe in our legal system. They prefer to have their disputes handled by the Beth Din, a special tribunal of “Judaist” jurists who make decisions in accordance with “Judaist” laws that are around two to three thousand years old.

In fact, it would be fair to say that if Bernardi were holding public office in a European parliament during the 1930s, he would almost certainly be writing the same remarks about Jews. But it isn't just Bernardi talking sects.

Kevin Andrews, John Howard's bumbling former immigration minister, told the Herald Sun that there is ...

... a risk [of enclaves] in Australia. What actually concerns me the most is that we can't have a discussion about it.

Now this statement really confused me. Let's face it. Almost every time Kevin Andrews opens his mouth in front of a TV camera, it's to talk about ghettoes and enclaves and immigrants not integrating. It's true that what he says rarely makes much sense. Perhaps what he should have told the Herald Sun reporter was that he is incapable of having a sensible discussion about it.

Andrews has a strange view of ethnic enclaves. Back in 2007, Andrews declared that

... some groups don't seem to be settling and adjusting into the Australian way of life.

His comment was triggered by the murder of 18-year-old Sudanese man Liep Gony. Clearly migrants should adopt Australian values by ensuring they are not murdered so readily.

So this is the kind of "talent” Tony Abbott must work with in his parliamentary party. Ah well. Shit happens.

Irfan Yusuf is a lawyer and author of Once Were Radicals: My Years As A Teenage Islamo-fascist. This article was first published in the Canberra Times on Wednesday 16 February 2011.

Words © 2011 Irfan Yusuf

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