Left and right are both calling for the manic Sheik Al Hilali to be deported from these fair lands. The left take offence at his comparing uncovered women to “raw meat”. The right take offense at his support for terrorists.
Listening to ABC radio this morning, I seemed to be getting the message that his offence was to compare women with an inanimate slab of steak. I would have thought that the Sheik was making a crude comparison of the primal urges for protein and procreation and suggesting that young men can control neither. Which is offensive to men rather than women.
Taken in isolation the comment would not be a problem – not to me at least. I have heard very similar metaphors in various Italian sayings. The problem for the Mufti of course is that his comments may embolden young Lebanese males in Bankstown to take even less responsibility for their actions. Many of these fellows do not need to be further emboldened. They already face precious little censure from their community.
Anyone who lived in Sydney in 2002 will know that there is a problem with Muslim attitudes to women. The problem is not exclusive to them. But it is concentrated and tolerated in that community. During that year, my wife worked at Bankstown Girls High for six months. It was the sentiment of the majority of the young Muslim girls there that the woman who got raped by a gang of Lebanese men was largely at fault and that the rapists were tempted beyond the point where they could be expected to show restraint. This was not a minority opinion at Bankstown Girls, despite what the ABC zealots and Keysar Trad might say. And if this is what the girls think, what do the boys think? And do we have any clues where they might have got such ideas?
As a professional statistician, I should presumably give little or no weight to such non-random anecdotal data. But in such matters, I think an informal “focus group” between teacher and students may reveal more than a formal survey where people are defensive. There was and is a huge problem in the Muslim community which became more apparent during 2002 as the rest of us waited in vain for some outpouring of regret and self-examination from Sydney Muslims, as the ethnic nature of the rapes were revealed.
The Right on the other hand want Sheik Al Hilali censured/silenced/deported because he expressed support for Islamic resistance fighters or terrorists, depending on your point of view. Have a look at this morning’s front page of the Australian
“TAJ Din al-Hilali has praised militant jihadists in Iraq and Afghanistan, calling them men of the highest order for fighting against coalition forces – which include Australian soldiers – to “liberate” their homelands!!!(my emphasis)”
and tell me it doesn’t resemble a tabloid. Does anybody really find it such a surprise that a leading Muslim cleric supports Iraqi’s and Afghani’s fighting against foreign coalition forces?
Fighting coalition forces is not morally wrong in itself. As they see it, they are fighting foreign uniformed soldiers occupying their lands. In my opinion, it is profoundly misguided for them to continue fighting when they have such a unique opportunity to rebuild their country and institutions in a manner that would have been impossible under Saddam or the Taliban. But it is not a crime. And supporting them should not constitute an offence. Moreover, there are not thousands of young Muslims men leaving our shores to fight a jihad. So, on balance, I think it is better to have the Sheik’s views aired.
On the other hand, a community leader who implicitly blames uncovered women for rape in an environment where women are being regularly assaulted and harassed is something that needs to be addressed. It is a public safety issue. And it would be a good signal to Muslims who support his views, who I suspect are the majority, if he could be removed from his position of authority.