There is a clear double-standard operating in Australia concerning the two sides of the political debate over Islamist extremism. This is exemplified by the wildly contrasting political and media treatment of Hizb ut-Tahrir and the Australian Liberty Alliance. However, as the strong public reactions to last week’s National Anthem scandal and Sunday’s Hizb ut-Tahrir conference demonstrate, this duplicity is becoming increasingly obvious and is now galvanizing the growing resistance to Islamist extremism and the appeasement policies of federal and state governments and the mainstream media.
To begin with, the coordinated and systematic Muslim assault on Australia’s national identity continues. On cue, speakers at the Islamist activist group Hizb ut-Tahrir conference in Bankstown on Sunday followed up on the attack launched last week at a Victorian primary school, where some 40 Muslim students were allowed to walk out on the national anthem because their religious allegiance was adjudged by school staff and the Victorian Education Department to have priority over their allegiance (if any) to Australia.
Singing the Australian national anthem or pledging support for democratic values in the citizenship oath was part of a state campaign of oppression and “forced assimilation” directed at Australian Muslims, Hizb ut-Tahrir leaders declared. According to media spokesman, Uthman Badar, the federal government “claims to afford freedom, but seeks to impose values and beliefs” on Muslims, specifically in the citizenship oath when new citizens were required to pledge allegiance to the democratic values upon which Australian society is based.
“It’s not enough that you obey the law, no, you have to adopt [Australian] values” as well, said Badar, who also condemned the expectation that Muslim schoolchildren should sing the National Anthem, which he claimed “reflects a disputed view of history”. He was referring to the Hizb ut-Tahrir version of history, which blames the West for all the problems in the world.
“If you don’t share those values, why should they be forced to sing it?” he insisted.
Badar appears to be well-connected on the cultural left in Australia, as his post-colonialist view of history indicates. Indeed, he rose to public prominence last year when it was revealed he had been booked to speak at the so-called ‘Festival of Dangerous Ideas’ in Sydney. His topic: “Honour Killings Are Morally Justified”. The resulting public outcry forced the lecture to be cancelled in a reaction that Badar saw not as understandable public horror, but only as a measure of the “extent and depth” of Islamophobia in Australia.
The Bankstown conference theme was “A Community Criminalised: Innocent Until Proven Muslim?” perpetuating the self-identification of Islamists as an innocent and unjustly oppressed minority. It was Hizb ut-Tahrir’s largest and most elaborate propaganda event yet, re-asserting its claim that the federal government and security agencies are waging a brutal campaign to oppress Muslims and force them into compliance with Australian values.
“It is nothing less than forced assimilation … justified by [an] exaggerated fear of a security threat”, declared Badar, while his comrade, Wassim Doureihi, insisted the government attitude was that “you cannot allow Muslims a moment to breathe”, and that raids by security agencies on the Muslim community were designed to “terrorise its inhabitants” and implement a policy to “tie their hands, beat them, [and] break their noses”.
A notable speaker was the British Islamist, Ibtihal Bsis, who achieved notoriety in the UK by assuring a group of young Muslim women that Islamic State was not a problem. In a pre-recorded video he told Australian Muslims that, when they needed strength, they should “look at your brothers in Syria who stand and fight against an unjust ruler” — the implication being that Australian Muslims face the same threat and should behave in a similar manner.
Testimonials were also provided by Muslims in attendance about their alleged mis-treatment by customs and border-protection officers. Others complained of how difficult it was made for them when they were visiting relatives imprisoned at the Supermax jail in Goulburn on terrorism-related offences. They were affronted because they were required to communicate with the prisoners in English via a phone and were not allowed physical contact with them. They complained also that children were forced to see their fathers in a steel room behind Perspex.
Hizb ut-Tahrir is obviously extremely well resourced. No effort or expense was spared in mounting this latest move in its propaganda war. In addition to the convenient timing, the conference was very well organised and attended. The venue was comfortable and spacious, the live and video-recorded speeches were beamed onto a large screen, the speakers made full use of the autocue, and a large media contingent was in attendance to fully cover proceedings. Pre-packaged lunches were provided for the 800 participants. Dozens of ushers wore special orange T-shirts proclaiming the conference theme, and a glossy, 36-page booklet was distributed providing legal advice for Muslims anxious to avoid cooperation with police and security agencies. Such cooperation “is outright haram (forbidden)” for Muslims, the publication declared, making clear the incompatibility of Islam and Western societies.
Throughout these harangues, “children in prams, toddlers, and teens accompanied their parents and many sat, mesmerised, to speeches suggesting Australia’s escalating counter-terrorism laws were an attack on Islam itself; that Muslims were being forced to surrender to Australian values”, The Canberra Times observed. Even as the NSW government commits $47 million of public money to a program allegedly designed to identify students at risk of radicalisation and to help counter violent extremism in schools, 800 Muslims sat entranced by the rhetoric of the Hizb ut-Tahrir extremists.
Entranced and untroubled by any of the pro forma demonstrations and screaming mobs of leftists denouncing racism and ‘Islamophobia’ designed to shut down any criticism of Islamism. Indeed, the Islamist assault on the National Anthem and Australian values has been very successful in publicizing its extremist position and in aggravating and mobilizing a Muslim sense of grievance against their adopted country. In this assault it has been supported by the media and politicians too timid to do anything about its campaign of hate.
However, they are only too happy to suppress the other side of the debate. Indeed, it is impossible to ignore the contrast between the elaborate and open nature of this Hizb ut-Tahrir conference and its favourable media coverage, and the situation of the Australian Liberty Alliance. This new political party was forced to keep secret its recent party launch meeting in Perth in an attempt to avoid the usual violent protests by Muslims and the left. Unlike Hizb ut-Tahrir it has received comparatively little media coverage.
Moreover, while Hizb ut-Tahrir spokesmen can say the most outrageous and socially divisive things with impunity, the ALA’s featured speaker, Geert Wilders, the leader of the Dutch Party for Freedom, was nearly prevented by the federal government from entering Australia, while the WA state government tried to marginalize the party launch, with Premier Colin Barnett declaring that Wilders would not be allowed to speak in any government venues. Moreover, the usual protesters drowned out the ALA Senate candidates, who had to be protected by security guards.
And this coordinated attempt at suppression was implemented despite the fact that, as Paul Sheehan points out:
In the months since the immigrant influx, Holland’s most strident critic of Islam, Geert Wilders, has become the country’s most popular leader. His Party for Freedom (PVV), has polled an average 33.5 per cent in recent opinion polls, far more than any other party.
The present political situation around the Muslim insurgency appears therefore to be a tale of two conferences. One was a conference held by an avowedly anti-Australian, anti-Western, anti-Christian, anti-democratic group that is seeking to mobilize Muslims against Australia, while the other sought to mobilize Australians in what its literature and platform depict as a democratic effort to defend the nation’s culture and heritage. society. One called for Sharia law and a Muslim Caliphate, and received government sanction and was free to meet; the other called for the protection of democratic liberties, and it was harassed by two governments and violent protesters.
However, as the appearance of the ALA, and the growing support for Wilders and other similar European politicians demonstrate, there is a major shift going on in the politics of the many Western nations that are experiencing the effects of the escalating Muslim grievance. Unfortunately, government policy is not reflecting this shift. Instead, it seems to be a policy of appeasement, designed not only to facilitate the hate-mongering of Islamist groups like Hizb ut-Tahrir, but also to further alienate and anger mainstream Australians concerned with such obvious and outrageous double standards.
Nothing better demonstrates this increasing alienation and anger than the massive volume of comments made online in response to the media coverage of the national anthem assault and Hizb ut-Tahrir conference proceedings, perhaps four or five times the number that might normally appear on controversial topics. For example, a story in The Australian on Hizb ut-Tahrir and the National Anthem went online at 1:04PM on Monday and had accumulated nearly a thousand responses by the end of the day, many extremely detailed, and most heartfelt and thoughtful.
It appears that people are fed up with government policies they perceive as wishy-washy at best. The overwhelming view was, as one comment put it,
I can’t stop laughing at how gullible Australian Politicians are, these radical Muslim preachers use democracies and freedom of speech to defeat us, and we do everything to accommodate them.
Even the observation of Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison, that the Hizb ut-Tahrir speakers were “clowns”, was dismissed as an uninformed and superficial appreciation of the magnitude and existential nature of the Islamist threat. Typical comments were:
For Scott Morrison to label these dangerous terrorists as clowns, just shows how that the gov’t is trying to pull the wool over our eyes. They’re dangerous and they should not be in our country.
In describing Hizb ut-Tahrir as ‘clowns’ Scott Morrison is being disingenious; much as David Cameron and Tony Abbott were when describing ISIL as being not really Islam. It is. We don’t want to be placated. The ideals of Hizb ut-Tahrir to establish a global caliphate to rule according to Sharia law is consistent with the ideals of Islam generally.
Morrison’s further claims that moderate Muslims are as appalled as he were similarly dismissed, as was the NSW $47 million ‘deradicalization’ program. One comment noted the performances of the new federal education minister, Simon Birmingham, and ALP frontbencher, Tony Burke, on Q&A on Monday night:
Tony Burke and the other birks and mealy-mouthed politicians, like Simon Birmingham, just said on Q&A we should be honoured the Anthem is perceived as a joyful event and therefore not to be sung during a Muslim month of morning. The Muslim voting bloc now has to be appeased.
Overall, the public commentary on these issues reveals an informed grip on Islam and the issues surrounding the Muslim insurgency far exceeding that demonstrated by professional politicians and the media, which are widely seen as out of touch and slipping behind in their grasp of the magnitude of the problem.
The contrasting treatment of Hizb ut-Tahrir and the Australian Liberty Alliance is a measure not only of a major political shift but also of the disaffection among voters caused by ill-considered government policies — a disaffection that could well shape the politics of the next federal parliament.