Working together is essential

In the wake of increasingly vicious anti-Muslim sentiment within the Australian community and the decision of a leading Islamic body to send letters to 200 Muslim clerics and leaders asking them to repudiate violence, racial harmony is hardly served by comments by The Anglican Bishop of South Sydney, Robert Forsyth. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that “he had no time for Islam, whose teachings he believed were false.” Can you imagine the outcry if a leading Muslim leader announced on national television that Christianity was a pagan religion, based on superstition and a death cult?

Having said that, the spectacle of Melbourne’s Sheikh Mohomed Omran on ABC Lateline last night was an intriguing sight. His answers were vague, contradictory and confused when asked about terrorism, September 11 and Bin Laden. Host Tony Jones, though, was so aggressive – would he ever ask John Howard if he condemned American bombing raids in suburban Baghdad or Israeli incursions into Palestinian territory? – Omran almost had to convince viewers why he should be allowed to stay in Australia.

If people like Jones think the real problem in 2005 is an individual like Sheikh Omran, they’re sadly mistaken. But then, it’s far too confronting to assess Western culpability.

UPDATE: Hundreds of Muslims have considered leaving England after the London bombings, according to a Guardian poll. The fear of an anti-Muslim backlash is real.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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