Miranda Divine: Sharia apologist's book tour a disgrace
MUSLIM activist Yassmin Abdel-Magied's taxpayer-funded book tour to repressive regimes in the Middle East is proof that the government is not serious about cutting its own wasteful spending.
There's no credibility in attacking the incomes of superannuants and pensioners without running the red pen through non-essential government expenditure such as politically correct junkets for a Sharia apologist.
When quizzed in the Senate by One Nation's Malcolm Roberts last week, Senator George Brandis didn't even have the grace to be embarrassed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's funding of such questionable "public diplomacy" excursions.
"I can advise you that Yassmin Abdel Magied visited a number of countries in the Middle East to promote Australia as an open, tolerant and multicultural society... [Her trip] was funded from the public diplomacy budgets of middle east posts and cost an estimated $11,485 comprising travel allowance and flights… There was no personal fee or profit element to her."
Why on earth would we want to present an alluring image of Australia to repressive Islamic regimes, where little girls are circumcised, women are stoned for adultery, gay people are executed, and where our idea of "an open tolerant" society is decried as Western decadence?
In any case, no one said Magied was receiving a "personal fee" for going on the DFAT junket. That's beside the point.
"Yassmin's Middle East speaking tour", as Magied describes it on her Facebook page, to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Israel, Egypt and Sudan in November coincided with the publication of her book "Yassmin's story", billed as the memoir of a Sudanese-Egyptian-Australian Muslim woman who wears the hijab, as The Australian reported last week.
And, judging by her appearance on the taxpayer-funded ABC's Q&A last week, her promotional activities also extend back home, to misrepresenting the oppressive misogyny of Sharia Law.
She said that Sharia law is simply "me praying five times day," that it required Muslims to "follow the law of the land on which you are on", and that "Islam is the most feminist religion", which prompted guffaws even from Q&A's partisan audience.
Fellow panellist Senator Jacqui Lambie wasn't buying this soft soaping of Sharia.
"The fact is we have one law in this country and it is the Australian law not sharia law, not in this country," Lambie said, before telling Magied to "stop playing the victim".
Predictably enough a group of 49 Muslim activists now are demanding an apology from the ABC for not giving Magied, who actually is employed by the ABC as a television host, a "safe" space to promote Sharia.
In their change.org petition they blasted Lambie as "racist, Islamophobic and crude, and [her words] constitute racial abuse and bullying...
"If Q&A wants to invite Muslim individuals to its forum, it should be able to guarantee a safe environment."
In other words, Magied's portrayal of Sharia should not be challenged.
As Professor Clive Kessler points out, Magied is correct that Sharia, or Islamic law, does say "that one must obey the law of the land". But only where the "law of the land" is Sharia.
And as Somali-born author Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who is calling for a reform of Islam, points out: "As a moral and legal code, sharia law is among the most dehumanising, demeaning and degrading for women ever devised by man."
Under sharia, women are not equal to men: a woman's testimony in court is worth half of a man's; she inherits half as much as a man; husbands are allowed to beat their wives for disobedience; sex with prepubescent girls, and having female sex slaves is allowed.
Under sharia, Muslims are superior to non-Muslims (labelled unbelievers or kafir) and insulting Islam is a punishable offence.
And, as at least three imams on the Australian National Imams Council have declared, under sharia, homosexuals should be put to death.
In other words there's a lot more to sharia than praying five times a day.
Yet Islamists in Australia, such as the Hizb ut-tahrir organisation, continue to push for a separate system of sharia, to operate in parallel with the law of the land, which would pose a serious threat to our freedoms. The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils also tried unsuccessfully to convince the Gillard government to introduce a modified form of sharia.
We're a long way behind the UK, where dozens of separate Islamic courts are in operation, but Halal food regulation and sharia finance are an indication of creeping sharia, as is the phenomenon of radical Muslims refusing to stand for judges in court rooms.
Being a tolerant society does not mean we have to defend intolerant attitudes of sharia, particularly the inequality of women, which is evident in promotional posters for an Islamic conference in Melbourne in which the faces of male speakers were shown but the faces of female speakers were blacked out. Or the Victoria Police recruitment poster promising gender segregated information seminars.
Lambie's style might be abrasive but it's not Islamophobic to insist that everyone in this country should abide by Australian law.
Nor is it Islamophobic to question why someone who misrepresents the true nature of Sharia would end up at the tender age of 25 being the beneficiary of not one but two taxpayer funded junkets, the first being a trip to the ASEAN "emerging leaders" program in Malaysia in 2012.
A lot of Muslims in Australia have escaped from repressive cruel Islamist regimes. It's not in their interests for Sharia apologists to be promoted by the government and the taxpayer funded ABC as the face of moderate Islam.