Thursday, November 02, 2006

Open and Shut Case ... still open

Is the case closed? See this from The Australian, "Hilaly matter now closed, Muslims say", November 02, 2006 .....

MUSLIM community groups came together today to call for an end to "overblown" public scrutiny of Sheik Taj al-Din al-Hilaly's comments on sexual attacks. They accused the media and politicians of using the scandal surrounding the mufti to vilify Muslims.

A statement signed by 34 Muslim community groups from across Australia said the furore should have ended after Sheik Hilaly's apology this week for referring to women as "uncovered meat" who provoked sexual attacks. "The Muslim community is always open to frank and robust debate that is free from slander and vilification, but what we have witnessed over the last week is nothing more than hysteria and sensationalism," the statement said.

"We believe that the public scrutiny of this matter should have ended with the sheik's apology. "Instead it is clear that certain sections of the media and political establishment have used this incident as an opportunity to vilify the Australian Muslim community."

The statement, which was not signed by major groups such as the Lebanese Muslim Association or any of the state or national Islamic councils, compared the continued criticism of the sheik to the mainstream responses that Pope Benedict's recent highly controversial description of aspects of Islam as "evil and inhuman".

...".... The verbal attacks of Sheik Hilaly have been disproportionate and unjustifiably prolonged....Finally, we consider this matter to be closed."

Signatories of the statement included the Australian Islamic College, Belmore Islamic Centre, Federation of Australian Muslim Students and Youth, Islamic Friendship Association of Australia and the United Muslim Women Association.

However the Prime Minister doesn't agree. See this from The Australian, 'Take action on sheik soon'November 02, 2006 ...

THE Muslim community must take action soon against Sheik Taj al-Din al-Hilaly, Prime Minister John Howard said today.

...."The failure of the (Islamic) community to resolve this issue is daily doing damage," Mr Howard said. "Unless this matter is resolved, and time is running out to resolve it, there will be left a sadly diminished view of the willingness of the Islamic community to integrate into the broader Australian community."

Mr Howard said he was not concerned by reports supporters of Sheik Hilaly were going to rally outside Sydney's Lakemba mosque on Saturday. He said he did not think that, even if a few thousand turned out at the rally, it would properly reflect the views of the wider Australian Islamic community.

"What he said was unacceptable. It can't be excused, it can't be fobbed off through bad interpretation and misunderstandings and so forth - that is not credible, nobody believes that," Mr Howard said. "The remedy lies in the grip of that community and I just ask them to understand ... that failure to act on this is daily doing damage to the perceptions of the community. "

"I do believe that the great mainstream of the Australian community is seeing this as a test of the bone fides of that community to deal with these issues. "I am afraid if it's not fixed then the rest of the community is going to reach a very negative judgment," he said.

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