Australian Islamist Monitor

Islam Under Scrutiny

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The Academe Tip Toes Around Islam

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An organization with the imposing title Affinity Intercultural Foundation convened a symposium with the equally imposing name “National Social Cohesion: Australian Muslims – growing together or growing apart?” The venue was Macquarie University on Friday 29th June. There were four speakers in the panel and several participants in the audience were invited to comment. There were also, of course, a number of Macquarie University social science academics present. All up there were about 150 people in the audience.
 
Speaking Frenzy
 First speaker Prof. Terence Lovat, said: “Islam gave us an all time great model of social cohesion – with respect to the constitution of Medina back in the time of the Prophet Muhammad pbuh”.
 
The first speaker, Professor Lovat, is Pro-Vice Chancellor, Education and Arts, Newcastle University. He is active in the area of comparative religion and is an occasional speaker at Affinity events. He promoted the “Constitution of Medina” as a stellar example of respect for cultural differences (tell that to the Banu Qurayzah tribe who lost their heads). He was concerned to emphasize the diversity of the world wide muslim community. The use of the qualifier Muslim is not explanatory and is not an adequate to characterise people. The religion is not monolithic and there are many different interpretations of Islam. Apparently Professor Lovat neglects the universal applicability of the Quran and aHadith as a template for every aspect of life.
HageProfessor Hage, Chair Department of Anthropology Sydney University, set out to address community wide myths. The concept of social cohesion is motherhood. The assimilation model has failed and the only viable option is multiculturalism. The Arab muslim is the folk devil of out time. Well, no doubt he is.

Associate Professor Greg Noble, school of Humanities and Languages University of Western Sydney, continued in a similar vein. Social cohesion is a myth. The claim Cronulla is a failure of multiculturalism is false. Cosmopolitanism (whatever that means) is a more pragmatic and attractive concept. It is an effective way of coping and a way of rethinking multiculturalism. This presentation was something of a mystery to your correspondent.

Peter Manning a former ABC current affairs staffer focused on the media presentation of Islam. This he described as venal. Apparently there is no substance to the shrill reporting - it is all a conspiracy by a self-interested government and a voracious media. His current research is based on a textual analysis of the printed media’s reporting of Islam. His position is representative of the “social justice” left.
 
The final speaker was Mehmet Ozalp, a Muslim of Turkish background and the leading light of the Affinity Intercultural Foundation. He is actively promoting Islam in the University circuit and is a frequent presenter of Continuing Education courses at Sydney University. His current offering in that program is “Women in Islam”. He gave a layman’s account of the five stages of (group) migration without enlightening your correspondent or anyone else for that matter.  
 
Three Stooges
Leading Social Visionaries: Peter Manning, Greg Noble and Mehmet Ozalp 

What are we – social science illiterates - to make of this material. Rather the beating around the anthropological bush let’s cut to the chase. Does Professor Lovat’s admiration for the constitution of Medina extend to approving it as model for 21st century society? Does he need reminding that the basis of Sharia has been unchanged for over 800 years? If Professor Hage is looking for folk devils he need go no further than the evil Jew portrayed in the Islamic religious texts and folklore. When Peter Manning dismisses the media coverage of Islam does he recognise the unresolved conflict between the marketing of a consumer product and the dissemination of information? No doubt the material is “sexed up” from time to time. The ABC itself is far from innocent. To suggest the coverage has been all smoke and mirrors is ludicrous.

If the Academe is setting out to defend Islam, then the least they can do is to consider Islamic dogma as revealed in the Quran and Hadith and attend to the public statements of leading Muslims. These people are admirably upfront about their aims and objectives. It is time we paid them the courtesy of listening.
Last Updated on Friday, 22 August 2008 08:30  

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