Apology demanded

Following the exchange shown above, this was the entire story by John Lyon in today’s Australian: Sugar-coating the reality of Islam

How appalling. Two Australian women, sitting alongside each other on a panel, shouting abuse at each other about the status of women in Islam. That was yet another low-point in the debate in Australia about Islam. The clash on the ABC’s Q&A last night certainly provided a few minutes of lively television. But it was unedifying, ill-informed and played to prejudices on both sides of the debate.

Jacqui Lambie is what television producers call “great talent” — a direct communicator who can deliver a punch and can be compelling to watch. Her adversary last night was Yassmin Abdel-Magied, whose family came to Australia from Sudan when she was two and who now lives happily in Australia as a mechanical engineer. It’s as if the moment the “Muslim button” was pressed that these two lost it, shouting at each other a level of abuse that does nothing to further an important discussion. Amid the shouting, the content of each was questionable.

Abdel Magied argued that women are treated well in Islam. This may be the case in Brisbane, where she lives, but the idea of trying to argue this about Islam in general is nonsense. The two main drivers of Islamic practice in the world today are Iran and Saudi Arabia — Iran is the leader of the Shia world while Saudi Arabia is the leader of the Sunni world. Many Muslims in Australia follow the rulings and teachings of the spiritual leaders in these countries. In Iran, discrimination against women is entrenched in the law — the treatment of women as second-class citizens is open and formalised.

The notion that they are equal is absurd. For example, if a negligent driver in Iran hits and injures a female pedestrian the courts will make the driver pay half the compensation that they would if they injured a male pedestrian. I covered the 2009 “Green Revolution” in Iran for The Australian, an uprising violently crushed by the Ayatollahs. While I was there I got onto a bus with an Iranian-English woman who was showing me around Tehran. I got on the front of the bus, for the men, and she got on the back, for the women. A wooden pole separated the two. When we began talking, an Iranian woman sitting on the bus confronted us — were we married and if not then we should not be talking to each other in public. In Iran, a man and a woman should not talk in public unless they are related.

That same Iranian-English woman told me how “Islamic police” would walk alongside her in the street and tell her to wipe lipstick from her face, or that her scarf was not covering all her hair. I was invited into some homes, where I spoke to many young Iranian women about their status. Clearly frustrated, the married ones told me that an Iranian woman could only leave home, even to go to the shops, if their husband or father gave them “permission.” The women, who are connected to the world through the internet, movies and the strong university educations available in Iran, were both upset and embarrassed by this reality.

Things in Saudi Arabia are just as bad — women are not allowed to drive cars. Supporting that ban, Saudi cleric Sheikh Salah al-Luhaydan claimed it had been scientifically proven that driving “affects the ovaries” and leads to clinical disorders in children. Bear in mind that Sheikh al-Luhaydan is a spiritual leader, guiding future generations of Saudis in their attitudes. This sort of medieval mentality is found in many parts of the Arab world.

In 2010, the United Nations put on a summer camp for children in Gaza. But a Salafist group, Free of the Homeland, said the UN was “teaching schoolgirls fitness, dancing and immorality.” Two days later the camp was attacked and destroyed. Then in 2013, the UN decided to fund a Gaza marathon. About 1500 people registered, including many woman and children. But Hamas, which controls Gaza, banned girls and women from participating. The UN cancelled the event.

It is important that we discuss Islam, its problems and how it functions in countries such as Australia. To help that debate, we need to hear from sensible, moderate Muslims on how to deal with concerns that a large number of Australians have when they look around the world and see incident after incident of terrorism committed by Islamic extremists. Ultimately, in my view, the solution to Islamic extremism must come from inside Islam.

We need to remember that when Islamic State first formed in — it was then called al-Qa’ida in Iraq. It formed in 2004 as a response to the US-led invasion of Iraq. It was key figures in the local communities — the Sunni tribal leaders — who confronted them. These tribal leaders drove them out of Iraq because they found their methods and philosophy appalling. The group reformed as Islamic State — or ISIS — when the uprising in Syria began in 2011.

Islam is currently engaged in a battle for its future, and its identity. That underpins much of the instability in the Middle East, particularly in countries such as Syria and Iraq. For Yassmin Abdel-Magied to sit in a studio in Sydney and try to sugar-coat reality of how well women are treated in Islam will not help anyone. Perhaps she meant that for Muslim women in Australia the reality is much different than for Muslim women in many parts of the world — if that is what she means she should state that. That, in itself, would lead to a fascinating debate: are there some countries where it is good to be a Muslim woman but some countries where it is not good to be a Muslim woman? Nor will Jacqui Lambie help the debate by barking “Sharia law” every time she is asked to contribute. We need informed debate not shouting and abuse.

There was then this subsequent story in The Australian on Muslim leaders demand ABC apology following Jacqui Lambie’s conversation on Q&A Monday night over sharia law. These are the top comments on that story in order with none left out.

Glenda 7 hours ago
Maybe the new ABC fact check could start with Yasmin and her claim Islam is a feminist religion and that women have equal rights to men.

John 7 hours ago
Not a fan of Lambie in fact cannot stand her and not a fan of Q and A but its called Free Speech. Get over it. Of course you could all go back to the Middle Eastern Muslim Countries and try some free speech there. Or perhaps you could all spend your time fighting for Women’s rights in those countries. Nah too easy sponging in Australia. Huh !

M 7 hours ago
Maybe the offended parties should launch an 18C class action complaint against the ABC for permitting non left wing views to be aired in public.

Angry Dude 7 hours ago
Hang on, I saw the episode in question and Ms Abdel-Magied was the initiator of the brouhaha – she had been interjecting and talking over other panel members (with an air of superiority) all through the show. She talked over Ms Lambie and goaded her about being totally ignorant of Sharia Law. I’m not a fan of Ms Lambie but in this instance, neither Ms Lambie nor the ABC has any reason to apologize.

Geoff 7 hours ago
Today I learn that Muslims don’t like hateful speech. Fascinating!

Roger 6 hours ago
Wow..playing the victim card..again. Don’t these people ever learn that it is exactly that sort of carping and whining instead of reflecting on why western society is increasingly concerned with islam that sets them against us all. They are unbending in putting their religion at the forefront of everything particularly at the expense of the values of the host country they live in, yet demand that those of us calling their insidious practices such as sharia law, hala slaughter, child marriages etc etc out should be gagged.

pamela 7 hours ago
I am not a fan of Lambie’s but I would not apologize for anything. It is about time the Islamic community apologized to Australians for the problems they have caused since arriving in the country. Muslims appear to cause havoc wherever they go, so why do they think an apology in in order. Go take a running jump I say.

Julian 7 hours ago
So we allow muslims to immigrate here and they start organising groups and demanding things. We need to unwind this situation pronto as it is unacceptable. The Australian Islamic Mission is dedicated to converting Australia to Islam. Organisations such as this should be proscribed. It really is us or them, there is no middle path.

David 7 hours ago
An apology!!!….for telling the truth and saying what the majority of Australians think and believe…..Yeah Right…… Islam owes the world an apology!!!! “If Q&A wants to invite Muslim individuals to its forum, it should be able to guarantee a safe environment for them…” What they mean by that is….An environment with no opposing viewpoint….Well…That just ain’t going to happen in this non Middle Eastern country where we enjoy freedom rather than religious indoctrination and censorship.

John 6 hours ago
Is it just me or am I perceiving a much harsher and more volatile reaction from all these different Muslim groups and leaders over nothing more than a few raised voices in disagreement, than we ever see when we experience violent attacks by Islamic extremists on our own soil? I’m thinking that their priorities are seriously flawed.

Luke 7 hours ago
But it’s ok for them to criticize Australian and Western values at will….

David 5 hours ago
Simple solution. Stop inviting Muslims onto any ABC program. They represent 3% of the population and 30% of ABC panellists.

Kate 6 hours ago
Islamophobia Watch Australia? The members of this organisation would be much better off spending their time encouraging Muslims to integrate into Australian society. Instead of looking for people who hate Muslims, shouldn’t they be looking for Muslims who hate us? Because they’re the ones who are far more likely to do harm to someone. How many Islamophobic Australians have harmed Muslims lately? On the other hand we have Man Monis and the young gunman who killed Curtis Cheng. We’re not the problem. You are.

Charmaine 5 hours ago
They demand ” comfort” when they go on Q&A ? Bahahaha. Precious petals. Yasmin was toe-to-toeing on the program & shouting with the best of them. This group don’t get to ” demand” anything.

Frank 7 hours ago
Here we go, cranking out the grievances. Glad to see the ABC being the target this time. The ABC shot themselves in the foot with that little ruse. Jacqui Lambie’s video clip above and her 6-points sound perfectly fair and reasonable to me. Go Jacqui!

Glen 6 hours ago
The Muslim collective (what a wonderful Leftie/Socialist term) is offended by Jackie Lambie’s comments. I am offended by Yassmin Abdel-Magied’s straight out lies about how tolerant Islam is especially towards women. I would like to see the ABC issue an apology for allowing her to lie to the Australian public. What is the point of having a Fact Checking department if the ABC is not going to using it.

Austin 5 hours ago
How about all the falsehoods peddled by Yassmin? Classic diversionary tactics of those who are an enemy of Australian culture and values to viciously go after those who bring them out into the light.

John 6 hours ago
Just listened to Lambies response.Tho I,m not a fan of hers,I have to say this is the most succinct rebuttal of Sharia that I have ever heard. These facts should be broadcast far and wide. They make complete sense.Australia beware, MT start listening.

Paul 6 hours ago
If they want sharia law then they must leave Australia for a country that has sharia law. It is quite simple. They can choose Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt (three countries where women are officially by law second class), Indonesia, Malaysia. I am sure that they would be most welcome there. My guess is they know they have it too good in Australia to even contemplate such a move, but want to change our country to suit them. No way…..

John 6 hours ago
Two can play at this game. I demand an apology for every time that a Mufti in Australia has insulted this country, its people, laws and society.

Vicky 5 hours ago
What is it with Muslims? Why do they demand so much attention all the time? There have been many nationalities and religions co-existing peacefully in this country for so many years. The Chinese, Greeks, Italians, Vietnamese, Irish, Yugoslavs (as they once were), Jews, Catholics, Orthodox, Buddhists have never sought to hijack the social and political agenda. We have all managed to live together in harmony. We didn’t need hashtags to unite us; we just did it through our democratic institutions and respect for our laws and civil society.

Deirdre 7 hours ago
Yet another example of why Trump was elected…

David 7 hours ago
I normally would have nothing in common with Senator Lambie (except the air we breathe), however why should the ABC apologize over an “incident” that is no more or less offensive than most of the ABC “inspired” left wing stunts.

todd 6 hours ago
Lambiie expressed the views of many Australians maybe not that eloquently but they are widely shared views. The Muslim community does nothing for its cause “rallying” like this as it only hardens the views of many.

Karl 6 hours ago
So Senator Lambie takes a position on Sharia law, states that position and stands by her comments. That is, she has exercised her right to free speech. A group of organisations representing Muslim interests has taken offence. They want to speak only in a friendly, safe environment. Presumably that is an environment where everyone has been vetted and is of a supporting position. Hardly constitutes a free debate. But then free speech is not encouraged in countries governed under Sharia law and never from women.

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