In the latest edition of Spectator Australia I have an article on the folly of attempting to equate Islam with any other religion. It should go without saying that not every Muslim is a terrorist or a murderer, but by the same token it apparently needs spelling out that globally there is only one religion in whose name unabated violence is routinely committed. Which is why the best known of the infamous Jyllands-Posten cartoons features Mohammad with a bomb for a turban. And which point is well-made by the shooting by Muslims at the offices of Charlie Hebdo. Not that such obvious clues as shouting "Allahu Akbar" do much to convince some in the media of this.
The response from most of the Australian press to the Charlie massacre, however, has been to keep quiet about the religious aspect entirely. Where "Islam" is mentioned it is almost automatically qualified as "Islamic extremism" or "fundamentalist Islam." But no sooner had I filed my article when I came across a debate of sorts last Monday on Channel 7's Sunrise between Rita Panahi on the one side, and Andrew O'Keefe and Patrick Condren on the other. Pahahi is a straight-shooting columnist for Melbourne's Herald Sun, O'Keefe is the morning television show's relief host, and Condren is a Brisbane AM radio host.
Panahi: It is so inane to pretend that these...terror incidents have nothing to do with Islam...and we need to start discussing why are they happening, why are so many in the wider community displaying some permissive attitudes to this horror and what can we do to bring the Muslim community into the mainstream.
Sound analysis from an Iranian-Australian with a family background in Islam, and frankly, advice which zealots for multiculturalism (such as O'Keefe) should embrace. When a terrorist claims to have avenged the prophet only moments after shooting dead some cartoonists in the name of Allah, to suggest that Islam has nothing to do with it makes you look obtuse. And in that regard O'Keefe appeared happy to oblige.
O'Keefe (smugly): But...every time a bunch of fundamentalist Christians in the U.S. bomb an abortion clinic or a synagogue, do we hold every Christian in the world to account for that?
Ah yes, the old but-what-about-the-abortion-clinics fallacy. I didn't mention it last week because I hadn't heard anyone commit it in relation to the tragic events in Paris. As for Christians bombing synagogues: err, what? But for O'Keefe abortion bombings was pulled out like the trump card it wasn't. From the footage Panahi actually seemed surprised, and no doubt it elicited curiosity and doubtful groans from many viewers. In any case, it proved her point.
Panahi: We've got to stop doing what you just did and pretending that Islam is like every other religion as far as being behind incidents of terror. We are seeing all around the world...Islam at the centre of these terror acts...it's not happening with Christianity...with Buddhism…with Judaism.
I'm not sure he could find it on a map, but…
O'Keefe: Well it is happening with Buddhism in Burma.
Thankfully, Panahi didn't even flinch.
Panahi: But there's only one religion which is at the centre of acts of terrorism all around the world, including in Australia, and that's why we need to talk about it.
Talk about Islam? No, but thanks for asking.
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