Topic: big media
Stay tuned for the usual foetid hysteria over a talk show interview last night in Egypt by the Mufti of Lakemba Mosque in Sydney while on holidays there, the night of George W Bush's big Iraq war speech.
He is ‘a fool, mad, divisive, intolerant, a bad representative of Muslim Australians, and should be encouraged to stay overseas’. This last one from the Premier of NSW no less who well knows he is a citizen of Australia based in his own electorate of … Lakemba. How's that for so called free speech, constructive deportation.
For the record here is my view after a long slog gardening and just checking the major daily press and ABC tv news/7.30 Report. Speaking of which 7.30 failed miserably in their duty to report the serious news being more fallout on Iraq war speech by George Bush, preferring to go with the Hilali confected outrage.
First Hilali is no fool. He surely knew his talk show interview would play back home in Oz.
Second the docile indeed submissive presentation of Walid Ali (e.g. on 7.30 Report, a favoured media spokersperson for Muslims based in Melbourne) and similar suggested a proverbial Uncle Tom response to Hilali. Walid Ali having already 'sold out' to the big western corporate law firm down there (speaking as an ex sell out corporate lawyer myself) Walid is at risk of appearing a careerist appeaser of white supremacist status quo in Australia.
Not that I blame this eloquent very bright fellow for cringing at the swingeing comments of Hilali which make life so much more difficult for Islamic loyalists: He’s not here to make your life any more comfortable Mr Walid Ali, of that you can be sure. On the other hand Muslim leaders should also keep in mind that it was in Sydney in February 2003, and not Melbourne for a change, that between 250 and 500K peace marchers confronted Howard's thinly disguised white supremacist foreign (and domestic) policy.
This was the peace and anti war march Howard infamously referred to as "a mob" including this writer at a peace and environment info stall under the banner "The Bush worth saving".
Third there is no doubt Hilali’s uncompromising views will cause trouble for younger generations of more assimilated Muslim Australians who want diplomacy, harmony and cooperation. But that still doesn’t negate what Hilali has to say as awkward as it is.
What we are seeing is a highly political man who rejects USA imperial foreign policy, who is old and doesn’t care about who he offends amongst his enemies, especially as he is getting too tired for his demanding job now.
But what he does care about is growing the Muslim pie here in Australia. He is not going to lose any votes within Islam from the existing believers no matter how troubled they feel about his style, they are rusted on faithful, but he will get some new fans.
Those getting hysterical don’t give Hilali near enough credit for his PR cunning.
14 days out from Sovereignty Day, err sorry, Australia Day 26th January 2007 roughly 500,000 original Australians, our Indigenous, Aboriginal Australia
will be asking themselves which tradition is worth pursuing? Anglo Saxon Christian dogma, or Muslim Australia?
And Hilali wants to be in that equation. He wants his message to be transmitted, for free if at all possible, to all those coloured folk who are losers in the Western anglo saxon white supremacist culture.
How easy for an Egyptian with thousands of years of history over the British to scorn the convict story as trivial or even embarrassing. It has the added benefit too of appealing to those Aboriginal Aussies whose land was stolen and People slaughtered or sickened.
And then there are those coloured folk whose relatives are hurt by Bush, Blair and Howard’s ‘surge’ in Iraq. The Palestinians as well. They think white western governments and their people are ‘liars’ to some degree. We did re elect John Howard after all in 2004. Is it really any accident Hilali made his interview soon after Bush’s speech when the Mufti has been to Iraq and knows the suffering of those people in depressing detail? The Bush speech alarming and depressing the Middle East and the world generally.
But what is most galling for the dominant Euro Australian culture is that Hilali is fighting stereotypical intolerant fire with fire, as truly divisive as that is. It would be unwise to assume the Mufti's reverse stereotyping of western society does not have some resonance, and some evidence to his case. Take for instance his reported claim 'there is no freedom or democracy for Muslims in Australia'. On one level it looks hopelessly inaccurate and vexatious.
But on another level consider the following evidence exactly on 1. denial of freedom (to Muslim alleged terrorists pending trial), and 2. unequal legal administration as regards sub judice evidence which is a hallmark of democracy:
Today I noticed a paragraph in the Sydney Morning Herald notable for its outrageous breach of legal reporting standards: Where the evidence in a case is sub judice and not for general press reporting when charges have been laid, especially in a case so very very serious. Here it is by the otherwise affable journo Tom Allard. [I met Allard on the media stakeout of Costello Howard leadership Cabinet standoff mid 2006 in Sydney CBD, so he obviously does federal political stories.].
The fact the media breach has not been a subject of controversy in the general media or legal media for compromising a long and expensive trial process including no bail, says a lot about how far our society’s checks and balances regarding non Christian coffee coloured folks has slipped:
“Indeed, when police and ASIO agents swooped on 19 alleged terrorists in Sydney and Melbourne last year, they found an astounding array of violent material on their computers. Their electronic library was as voluminous as it was disturbing, including recipes for homemade explosives, poems in praise of jihad and grisly videos and audio files of beheadings and terrorist attacks.”
In Fighting jihad in cyberspace page 27 Sydney Morning Herald December 2-3 2006:
Full article here at:
The only difference with the web and paper version is that the journalist’s name is missing.
Get it? Allard is spilling the prosecution case in the Big Media to prime the public preconceptions. This is actually blatantly illegal reporting of sub judice evidence.
Sure I’m a rusty junior lawyer here in NSW, but let me take a wild guess and say this prejudices the whole case by the authorities for a fair trial.
Who is Allard’s source for that incriminating evidence? Was it the police prosecution? Was it the Attorney General Ruddock or his officers? Was it ASIO? Can the accused get a fair trial still after all 19 are tarred with this indiscriminate brush? All orthodox questions in exactly same situation for the proverbial ‘white western alleged violent criminal' whose case is compromised by Big Media reportage.
Trials are aborted for this kind of reportage in my memory.
What was that about equal democracy and freedom in Australia Hilali suspects as flaky, indeed what of equality before the law? Allard is no slouch journalist, and this was a big feature story, not some throw away piece. The Herald obviously was happy with it under an image of the Osama Bin Laden bogey man.
Won’t defence barrister Rob Starry be interested to read this article here on independent media. It was Starry who said in a Channel 31 tv programme in Sydney last year that there is a consistent pattern of abuse of legal norms by the authorities regarding prejudicial media choreography of his defendants. That from a lawyer of 25 years experience.
So go ahead and rail against Hilali for prodding sacred cows about desperate convicts stealing, err sorry settling a whole continent from Blackfellas. The trouble is there is a grain of truth, not the whole truth mind you, in what Hilali is saying. But then he is not playing the whole truth game one presumes having long given that away, as neither are Australian institutions of power being completely honest either, as the Fairfax press quite blatantly evidences above.
Postscript # 1 Sunday am 14th Jan 07:
Uh oh moment for Fairfax? The Saturday edition of Fairfax Sydney Morning Herald does not seem to have run one mention of Hilali in their flagship Saturday/weekend edition 13/14th January 2007.
By contrast The Australian ran a bit on their front page and the egregious Sydney Daily Telegraph ran another ridicule 'news' article, a ridicule comment on the Blair pseudo blog opinion page (mainly targeting gifted cultural interpreter for the Mufti and peace activist Kayser Trad), and again on the editorial (3 items in all).
Hilali was news but not in the Saturday edition of Fairfax. That's quite an interesting back down by the more ethical paper of record. But let's see how the Sunday press goes today too.
Postscript #2: The Sunday press in Sydney has News Ltd's Sunday Telegraph - nil, zero, zilch on Hilali. I think maybe they get it and have shut off the oxygen. Fairfax's Sydney SunHerald have one very friendly anglo son in law, and his anglo parents, story supporting the Mufti. That's what I call a truce complete with exhortations to "free speech", all on page 9: under banner headline "Meet the in-laws" at http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/the-anglos-whose-son-married-the-muftis-daughter/2007/01/13/1168105230363.html
But wait, cynical PM Howard can see the political advantage of a divisive tango with Hilali evaporating and chipped in on the Fairfax website to keep it going calling Hilali "an embarrassment to Islamic Australians" in a late posted story timed at 11.14 am. http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/sheik-an-embarrassment-pm/2007/01/14/1168709598468.html
The "embarrassing" tag also tried in the press yesterday by Howard on Hilali is actually borrowed surely (and ironically) by Howard from this FHM survey calling him the very same thing, we reported at SAM here as follows: (Saturday, 6 January 2007) 'PM Howard wins 'most embarrassing' Australian in 2006: FHM Magazine'
It's as if both are working hard to confirm the overall thesis that both are indeed 'embarrassing', past it, divisive and desperate for oxygen to keep their profiles alive: Hilali goes tit for tat calling him "a me too" PM for copying W Bush.
Talk about both striving to win a battle between themselves and losing the PR war in the minds of the overall public.
# Postscript #3:
Well the mutual tango for equal and opposite media profile over quite possibly equally intolerant aging white supremacist Howard, and aging multicultural Islamist Hilali so dogmatic on matters of faith, continues apace today Monday. At least its on the fairly clear and valid debate underpinning alot of this argument meaning undeclared white supremacist local and foreign domestic policy of Howard, indeed majority fascist tendencies versus a minority scapegoat.
Here is an example: Sheik now loves Australia
For instance Fred Nile Christian fundamentalist holds many of the same views as Hilali on say disapproving of alternative sexuality but doesn't get nearly the criticism. Nile is anglo and as such glorifies the USA euro dominant Christian traditional role in the world. Hilali being coloured and non anglo does not. So where is the news in this entirely predictable ethno religious geopolitical public friction exactly?
I suppose Hilali is a complex person and as such a loose and inaccurate proxy for very complex and fraught geo political problems in the Middle East that Australia now has as such a loyal ally of dogmatic W Bush USA regime. But then so is PM Howard a quite accurate proxy for W Bush failure as a world leader on the Middle East.