Australian Islamist Monitor

Islam Under Scrutiny

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Career Muslims - Is Islam good for our health?

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"Diversity" is such a wonderful thing that Australians are happy to be endlessly given the opportunity to support it morally, physically and financially. Well, actually, they are not so much given the opportunity as forced to support it - and promote it, and "celebrate" it, and pay those whose job it is to berate anyone who is not 100% behind it. Indeed, even that is not enough. We now, through our taxes, pay people to ridicule those of us who are lagging behind in awareness of our insufficient deference to diverse communities among us, a particular contingent of which, as we will see, has been jostling for prominence. Then we can choose to pay again, as "buyers of tickets".

And who better to berate us? Who does anger and resentment best? Who exalts most in victim status? Who might be likely to get ordinary Australians to pay money to squirm in self-loathing while they, in the spotlight, admonish us for our "racism"?

Why, Muslims, of course!
VicHealth, the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation, was set up to promote healthy living practices in Victoria. Their way of sidling into the Diversity Industry was via "mental health"; presumably diversity promotes mental health, and avoidance of or insufficient celebration of diversity, that is, "racism", detracts from it. VicHealth has financed studies with titles such as "More than Tolerance: Embracing Diversity for Health"; tolerance is just so yesterday, and a full embrace is now required. Thus VicHealth "has developed strong partnerships with arts oganizations to...break down social isolation and build social connectedness. It aims to, amongst other things, reflect on whether values such as fairness and respect for others are reflected in our interactions with people from cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds that differ from our own", and on "discrimination and intolerance and their impact".
 
So much dazzling reflection might bring forth some interesting observations if we were to travel to lands from where our immigrants have come and many of whom have brought the mindsets of their "backgrounds"; but we know already the people VicHealth are targetting. This is the Western world, after all, consisting of the immigrant host countries where hospitality is of a nature unheard of in previous human history.
 
Two "comedians", Aaamer Rahman and Nazeem Hussain, who are performing currently at the Comedy Festival in Melbourne, are among the recpients of VicHealth grants.

 One writer who met the men for a pre-festival interview, Suzy Freeman-Green, (Age, 6/3/10) appeared to have a little trouble with the two "comedians", as I might also, because they did not look even friendly, let alone funny She found time spent with them "confronting", as she put it, her discomfort arising from her non-Muslim, white-skinned, middle-class state of being. She felt guilty of something. But the men did not make any real attempt to put her at ease; they had no such purpose. Race and racism was the constant theme, the "banal, unassuming...patronising" racism of Australians, a theme conveyed, according to Freeman-Greene, with their air of "supreme self-confidence."
 
Indeed, Rahman (photographed on an earlier Age article with the caption "laugh, infidel") has made hammering home a message of Muslims being "under siege" and victims of "racism" quite a career path - but his comment three years ago that Australians "didn't know what Muslims were…they thought it was the same as Buddhism or Hindu[ism]" now sounds terribly outdated. Very few Australians would think Islam was anything like Buddhism or Hinduism any more: Muslims have done a very good job of disabusing us of such ignorance!
 
Rahman, of Bangladeshi background and Melbourne Grammar education, is one of a new breed in Australia, a "career Muslim", a young, social justice conscious (a youth worker), hip, swinging Muslim, bringing a new form of da'wa which blasts the Islamic terrorism image to pieces and replaces it with a victim-hued but smoothly at ease, edgy but polite cool. And his skin is a nice shade of brown, and is a feature which is central to his public persona. That, and Islam, which he subtly conflates with his skin colour, as if Islam were a kind of honourary race.
 
He is a director of the Islamic Council of Victoria, and is, according to his Facebook page, very much concerned with Islamic matters too numerous and predictable to list here. But he is best-known for his participation in "Salaam Cafe", a supposedly funny TV show in which Muslims appear to mock themselves, and by doing so mock us; his character "Uncle Sam", a "fanatical imam", is simply unamusing, while appearing to remind us how facile our stereotypes of Muslims are.
 
Rahman and Hussain have together appeared before in this stand-up comedy show called "Fear of a Brown Planet" in which they poke fun at non-Muslims and white people, and focus on the "racism" of yobbo Australians in incidents such as the Cronulla "riots", in which the Lebanese Muslims were apparently totally innocent, and, moreover, abstemious, unlike the drunken, aggressive Australians. All in good humour, of course, and drawing hearty laughter from the presumably better class of Aussies who paid to see them and were eager to demonstrate their sophisticated worldliness and receptiveness to the spirit of da'wa, not that they would have recognised it as such.
 
Nazeem Hussain, a keen supporter of the group "Students for Palestine", has a more manipulative, attention-seeking approach to bringing Islam into our space. An earlier story about him in the Age related that during Ramadan, a few years ago, behind the scenes at the AFL Grand Finals, he was anxious to find some dates with which to break the fast, as per, of course, Mohammed. Amazingly, a footballer procured dates for Hussain. Absurdly, Hussain could not organize these apparently compulsory dates for the breaking of the Ramadan fast but had to educate everyone around him about the need for them, as well as charming others into buying them for him, Aussie footballers - a coup!

Blame the Aussie redneck and play victimhood

Similarly, in the instance of the Freeman-Greene interview, he ostentatiusly draws attention to Islamic requirements by, in the middle of an interview, saying he needed to pray. This would not have happened in an Islamic country, I am certain, where Muslims can be a little more flexible about the day's routine. Perhaps only in a Western country, where we are stunned by the pressing cultural needs of "The Other", would such an individual arrange an interview to coincide with prayer-time, doubtless for didactic reasons.
 
But the attention-seeking is not all petulant and trivial; the Islamic rage is there too, if sugar-coated with politeness. The pair purport to be angry on behalf of all dark-skinned people, but their new show moves through topics such as asylum seekers and violence against Indian students right into the realm of "Palestinian politics" (as Freeman-Greene calls it); presumably the audience will not notice that the guilt tap which has been turned on inside them is still running on this topic. Australian white people, supposedly, shoulder some of the responsibility for Palestinian recalcitrance. Their "slippery" humour, according to the interviewer, slides conversationally and ceaselessly around the theme of racism, including finding fault with immigrants who try too hard to be Aussies.


 

So when it comes to "social inclusion" it seems the best idea is for immigrants, particularly Muslims, to not try and fit in because the Australian culture is inherently repugnant. Did VicHealth notice this when they issued the grant?

As for Islam itself, Hussain went on a Sufi retreat last year in Yemen, where the teachers espouse the "true essence of the faith as opposed to rigid rules and regulations". "It's more about purification of the soul and how you should treat others," he said "quietly". (Sufism: is there no limit to these men's cool credentials?) Does that mean the Ramadan dates were not so important after all? Do the Sufi masters encourage the breaking of any Islamic rules whatsoever, or find fault with Mohammed and the way he treated others? The interviewer, disappointingly, did not enquire. But a hint of Hussain's attitude to Islamic rules seems to be evident in his view about anti-hijab sentiments, that "if everyone else can shop at Supre and not get arrested, I think Muslim women should be able to wear whatever the hell they like." One can assume he expects Muslim women to "want" to wear hijab, not clothes from Supre, which is what "everyone else" wants to wear.

The two quite frankly "use" humour to change perceptions of Muslims in Australia, while not acknowledging their contribution to negative perceptions of non-Muslims in Australia even as they hammer them home. They do not want to identify with Australian culture; instead we hear they are "active in the Muslim community."

Re-enforcement of unpleasant and unfair Australian stereotypes is a dubious project for VivHealth to fund in the name of community health. Although it might puff up the confidence of these Muslim men who want to project Islamic supremacism wherever they can, it does nothing for MY mental health.

But there is a cure for that unbalance. If it is fair for Muslims to mock non-Muslims, why not a grant from VicHealth to non-Muslims to mock Muslims?? We Australians believe that laughing at ourselves is a healthy thing. Why not teach Muslims the same idea, to get down and really laugh at their religion and customs?

We could start straight away with Hussain and Rahman, who claim they sufferred "both overt and subtle" racism at school. Why was that? Did they bang their heads praying in the quadrangle while everyone else was playing? Did they sulk in Ramadan, unable to get stuck into their dates until the sun went down? Did they boast about the "Islamic" invention of zero in Maths and make fools of themselves? Behave badly in chapel?

 

 

I could have some fun doing a stand-up comedy mocking Muslims. There is so much to mock! And so much artwork available to make the audience laugh, such as pictures of Mohammed with a bomb in his turban...the Muslim audience would find that funny, wouldn't they? And the dog cartoon with Mohammed's head...so funny! There are so many!

Here is a true story I can contribute for a stand-up comedian. When I was a teacher there was a Muslim girl in my class who complained about the magpies attacking her and her friends' white-scarved heads on the way home from school, making the scarves blood-stained. For some reason the magpies picked on the Muslims rather than the infidels. This delightful image has never left me; I imagine the girls running in their long skirts with the magpies swooping and the bloodstains appearing and the girls squealing in panic, not having the nous to wave sticks above their heads. The girl thought the council should do something about it.
 
Annihilation of the birds? Beheading? Or, because Islam is a religion of peace, capture followed by cultural sensitivity training for magpies?
 
Come on, VicHealth, how about it? Just thinking about a comedy show picking on Muslims makes me feel better.

Last Updated on Monday, 12 April 2010 11:10  

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