Friday, October 27, 2006

"We ain't no delinquents, We're misunderstood. Deep down inside us there is good!"

I guess I was a bit too optimistic yesterday about Australia's most senior Muslim cleric and the response to him.

The Islamic Friendship Association of Australia defended the man, saying that all his good work in support of law and order (hmm, was that when he was encouraging Palestinian children to blow themselves up in Israel or was that when he supported the 9/11 terrorist acts?) is forgotten as soon as he makes one ambiguous comment. I don't think they really get it: his comment was quite unambiguous.

His daughter also supported him, although this is quite understandable.

"Leave him alone. He is a sick man," she said. Yeah, you can say that again.

"He was just teaching women to be modest."

Sure he was. After all, if I were to say to the cleric "stop issuing misogynistic statements or else I shove a cactus up your ass" it would be teaching him to behave himself, in a way, and an actual cactus would be even more efficient. Whether such words and actions on my part would be a) legal or b) acceptable for a religious leader to do or say is a totally different issue.

And I am sure that when he said that Jews control the world through sexual perversion, he was only trying to teach Jews to be modest. And when he said that Palestinian children should aspire to the martyrdom he was, of course, just trying to show them the quickest way to Paradise and those 72 virgins (although nowadays they say that due to the shortage of virgins you get only one, but she is 72 years old).

(As an aside, doesn't anyone find it strange that people who are the most active in encouraging Palestinian teenagers to blow themselves up in Israeli pizzerias tend to be 66-year-old men living in Australia, or at least 56-year-old women sitting in the Palestinian legislature?)

Al-Hilali has apologized for his comments (all together now: "taken out of context"). "I unreservedly apologise to any woman who is offended by my comments. I had only intended to protect women's honour," he said in a statement published in The Australian. Would that, incidentally, be the same "honour" as in "honor killings"?

When asked by the reporters whether he would stand down, he answered "after we clean the world of the White House first".

Teaching Americans modesty, or perhaps better architecture? OK, I am retracting my words about the cactus. This man will never learn.

The Australian Lebanese Muslim Association, which owns Hilaly's Lakemba Mosque, has suspended him from preaching for three months, but says no further action will be taken. Too little and too late, but better than nothing. Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner Pru Goward is saying this is not enough.

One thing I would like to know: when 9/11 happened, and many times afterwards, we were told that the guys who do or support things like that have misunderstood and misinterpreted Islam. Did Australia's senior Muslim cleric misunderstand it too? Must be an awfully complicated religion.

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