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Islam at your Doorstep
Terror - Islam
Thursday, October 17, 2013
Alf Cengia

Prior to the 2011 September 11 terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers, I had only had a somewhat vague idea about what Islam was and what Muslims believed. I knew that Cassius Clay had converted to Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Ali. I only remember thinking that it was an odd thing for someone to do.

I'd also seen old films characterizing Arabian Sultans as fearsome individuals intolerant of infidels and constantly calling for their beheadings via large scimitars. But that's Hollywood for you.

Even the Warner Bros Cartoons depicted the odd angry Muslim character running around screaming and waving a scimitar. I was fed all that television programming as I grew up. Given that, I can understand how someone might point to these examples and evoke the term "conditioned Islamophobia."

As a foil to that negative "conditioning" I had been persuaded by various New Age authors who taught that Islam's Allah was the same person as the God of the Bible. They affirmed that Islam was another valid and peaceful expression of faith, along with all the other faiths. At one narrow point in time I had come to believe it.

We rarely saw women wearing hijabs or burqas during my earlier years in Melbourne Australia. They were confined to two or three suburbs which had a local mosque. These suburbs had once been strongly represented by post-WW2 European migrants - Greeks, Italians and Maltese. Over the course of time, many of these migrants moved to the outer suburbs and the demographics gradually began to favor a Muslim population.

From my perspective, this phenomenon seemed to accelerate after 9-11. Statistics may show otherwise and, possibly, I only began to notice the change because of 9/11. I do remember a local incident not extensively reported in the media at the time of the attack on the Twin Towers. Many Muslim workers at a Motor Car Plant had cheered the terrorists.

That was when I began noticing things. Like a bucket of cold water poured over me as I slept, 9/11 woke me with a start. I'm sure it had a similar effect on others.

As the Muslim population grew in the suburbs I mentioned earlier, Melbourne Muslims gradually obtained official roles in local governing bodies. This was only natural. In fact in my own suburb, yuppies often moved in and got themselves into local government. They then closed off streets - those they happened to reside in - to passing motorists, thereby causing peak traffic congestions.

Post 9/11, the sightings of hijabs became more frequent and signaled that some change was in the air. A local fast food outlet had made a management decision to exclusively cater halal-prepared meat. Protests were summarily treated with disdain by the media.

In one suburb, there was a proposal by a Muslim group to close the public swimming pool for one day a week so that Muslim women could use the facility in private. The idea was immediately met with strong community protest and subsequently quashed. I sympathized with the women, yet I also saw it as an encroachment by a different culture on ours.

Another change the Islamic community wanted to bring (and still do) was the acceptance of polygamous marriage according to Sharia law. One Investigate Journalist discovered instances where Muslim men had already married more than one woman via Sharia. In one example a man had three wives and each had children. The two illegal wives were supported by state welfare programs.

Of course there are the secular and Islamic apologists who present a sanitized, tolerant Sharia which purportedly meshes with Western culture. Mohamad Abdalla writes that a Muslim in a Western society is obliged to observe Sharia rules only concerning rituals, food, marriage and divorce etc. He notes that Australian family law is "accommodating" and that Sharia is being "practiced quietly in Australia." I would add - very quietly.

In response, James Arlandson cites ten marriage rules in the Qur'an that oppress and insult women. Some Imams in Britain interpret Sharia marriage laws to include the stoning of women caught in adultery, among other things.

A friend who attended a Victorian University once told me that campus bathrooms had been fitted with facilities for foot washing and that this was in response to consistent Muslim student lobbying. This is fair enough. But he also noted that some professors privately confided their reservations as to why so many of them seemed disproportionately interested in chemistry classes.

Some might argue the professors were closet Islamophobes, or that they had over-reacted.

Even so, ground level opinion of Islam in Australian communities nose-dived after incidents such the Benbrika home grown terror cell scare. The cell members were contemplating the best location for setting off a bomb. Among other things, Sheik Abdul Benbrika was recorded as telling his disciples:

"What we want to do [here] is to do maximum damage and damage their property. Damage their lives...Like Spain. I've been thinking about a lot...all this stuff is pleasing to Allah. It's pleasing to Allah."

Obviously he hadn't read Mohamad Abdalla's memo.

There appears to be a vast disparity between the Sharia which apologists seek to defend and its interpretation and practice where it enjoys free reign in an Islamic dominant environment. Deposed Egyptian President Morsi's view on Sharia and governance sums this up well:

“...the Koran was and will continue to be our constitution. I take an oath before Allah and before you all that regardless of the actual text [of the constitution]… Allah willing, the text will truly reflect [Sharia], as will be agreed upon by the Egyptian people, by the Islamic scholars, and by legal and constitutional experts.”

In the West, the god of multiculturalism and diversity can be fickle. Its worshipers shun anything they consider Islamophobic. They'll vigorously guard Islamists and defend the right to Sharia. In contrast, anti-Semitism generally slips under the radar and mocking Christians often gets a nod.

Many Australians have become aware of the creeping demands of Sharia, even in a culture where Islam is a minority. In Europe where, Muslim populations enjoy a greater growth, Sharia has left an indelible impact on some societies. Marseille France is one example where multiculturalism has seen Islam beginning to dominate a city.

Westerners tend to defend Islam by disassociating Sharia with any negative practices, or terrorist acts with Islam. At the same time there appears a push to eradicate Christianity from the culture. I wonder how they'd react if one day they woke up with Islam at their doorsteps as have the Marseillais?

It's not a matter of being Islamophobic to take note of these things - it's a case of being realistic.

About Alf Cengia

Last week: Stealing Jesus

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