Thursday, 18 May 2017

Muslims in Australia

     It's not always pleasant to be proved right. I joined Toastmasters in 1990 to learn the art of public speaking, and my third speech was about Muslims in Australia. This, you might note, was 27 years ago, and 11 years before the start of the War on Terror but, as mentioned before, I had done my studies on Islam a decade and a half before. Below is the speech I gave at the time. Read it, and decide whether or not it was prescient.
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     Years ago, when I was in a residential college at university, I found some of my Muslim friends gathered around a table discussing the problem of their lecture times conflicting with their required times of  prayer. I never did find out how they settled the matter, but it was the first indication I had that they did have a problem. [I also gained the impression that the issue wasn't a problem until one of the religious Muslims raised it. This is something we shall come to again and again. Most Muslims, like most nominal Christians, are slack. In small numbers, they will be prepared to let things slide. But when their numbers increase, the religious ones pull them into line.]
    Some years later, at the office, I came across an Arab who had just managed to find a place and time to say his prayers.  "Well, Aḥmed," I said, "how do you manage to ensure that all your food is ḥalāl? - that is, in accordance with Muslim dietary laws, the Muslim equivalent of "kosher". Well, he replied, there were a few Muslim butchers he could attend - though I imagine they might be on the other side of town. And sometimes he arranged to slaughter an animal in his back yard - which he didn't realise was quite illegal. Then he made a very telling statement: "The way I see it, God gave us a commandment, and he intended it to be kept. He didn't say, 'Do it only if you find it convenient.'" It struck me as a fine sentiment, and if everybody who called themselves Christian took the same attitude, society would be in a much better shape.
     Now, put yourself in Aḥmed's place. A Christian shift worker does not have to attend church every Sunday. [The residents of the nursing home where my future wife worked had to be fed, which meant that she missed every second Sunday service.] However, a Muslim has no such option; he has to pray four times a day - at dawn, mid-morning, noon, and dusk, with an optional one in mid-evening. At least two of these conflict with normal times of work. Aḥmed was lucky, because his workplace was unstructured enough to allow it, but it is another matter for assembly line workers, bus drivers, and anyone who wants to attend lectures or travel interstate by public transport. Each time he must find a space in which to face Mecca and bow down and touch his head to the ground several times. In most cases, he must first wash his hands, face, and, I think, feet in running water. On Fridays, again, he has no choice; he must say his prayers in a mosque with the rest of the community, which in practice means that no work gets done. [I recently discussed this with a member of a local mosque. He admitted that most of them can't attend mosque.]
     I've already mentioned that he cannot buy meat from our stores, because it is not ḥalāl. Likewise, he cannot eat at one of our restaurants. If one of you invited him home for dinner, he could not come. Our schools do not teach the sort of things a Muslim thinks important, but they do encourage a free-and-easy relationship between the sexes which Muslims find abhorrent. Youth groups are particularly bad in that regard.
     Well, if Aḥmed and his family want to come to Australia, that's their problem. Unfortunately, when there are 109,000 Muslims in Australia, then it is our problem. Most of them are not particularly religious, but those that are form a sizable minority and, equally importantly, they form the basis by which the community identifies itself and separates itself from others. And since it it almost impossible for a Muslim to fully practise his religion outside of the Muslim community, the result will be inevitable: a tightly-knit sub-culture, incapable of assimilation, with Muslim businesses, Muslim shops, Muslim schools, and Muslim clubs. This has already happened in places such as Britain and France, which have larger Mulsim populations.
     Now, this would be considered a problem with any ethnic group, but with Muslims there is something extra: their traditional attitude towards outsiders. For this we should refer to the Koran, the record of Moḥammed's prophetic revelations. Two years before his death, Moḥammed conquered Mecca, after a war in which assassination, the breaking of truces, and the mass murder of prisoners was considered quite legitimate [I have written about that here], and this revelation formed part of his farewell sermon to his troops:
Fight those who believe not in God nor the Last Day,
Nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden
By God and His Apostle,
Nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth,
Of the People of the Book,
Until they pay tribute out of hand and are humbled. [Koran 9:29]
    The jihâd, or holy war, is often considered the sixth pillar of Islam. The theologians are quite specific. The world is divided into two parts: the dâr-ul-Islâm, or "home of Islam" and the dâr-ul-ḥarb, or "home of war". It is the duty of the home of Islam to wage a war of conquest every year against non-believers. Having been conquered, idolaters are to be given two choices: Islam or death. But, as the passage I read from the Koran shows, the "people of the book" - that is, the other monotheists - are to be given a third choice: humiliation. They are forced to pay a special tax called the jizya, and under pain of death they must not: marry Muslim women, keep Muslim slaves, talk disparagingly about the prophet, or attempt to convert Muslims. Under pain of exile and dispossession they must wear a special patch on their clothes such as Hitler forced on the Jews, and must not: ride horses, build their houses higher than Muslims', or allow their church bells to be heard. Needless to say, any Muslim who changes religion is threatened with death. To the Muslim mind outsiders exist only to be conquered or oppressed. And I must emphasize that these views are not just those of a handful of fanatics, but were the practices of Moḥammed himself and his most intimate lieutenants.
     So when you hear about a Sydney mullah [Tâj ed-Dîn el-Hilâlî] preaching anti-Semitic sermons, and Gaddafi's Little Green Book circulating among Australian Muslims [I'd forgotten about that], and riots over Salman Rushdie's book, you can see the writing on the wall. Why can't our leaders?
     There are three reasons. Firstly, the Government isn't interested in the teachings of any religion, let alone a foreign one. Secondly, they have the quaint idea that a diversity of cultures is by itself a good thing. Thirdly, it is an article of faith that if any ethnic conflict occurs, it must be the fault of native Australians. The possibility that migrants might be bigoted and intolerant is beyond their ken.
     Let me assure you these assumptions are quite incorrect. If we continue to allow Muslim migration we will be building up a formidable community conflict. And experience shows that such conflicts tend to be permanent.
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     Well, that is what I said 27 years ago. Can anybody allege that it wasn't prophetic? By 2016, the number of Muslims in Australia had grown from 109,000 to 604,000, or 2.6% of the population, of which 40% live in Sydney. There are suburbs which are part of the Middle East rather than Australia, and some of their attitudes are disturbing. The imams have refused to co-operate in a forum to prevent terrorism. We have seen an increased number of forced marriages of underage girls. Our own government has been complicit in polygamy. We have seen unreasonable segregation in public areas, and community turmoil as a public state school becomes essentially Islamic. (You can find another detailed discussion here.)
      And, of course, there is the violence. I have lost count of the number of terrorist attacks perpetrated or thwarted in the last ten years, but 200 Australian Muslims have gone over to fight for the Islamic State. That is more than in the whole of the Australian army. Furthermore, they are not just badly chosen immigrants, but frequently those born here. All too often, the immigrant settles down to do what he came here to do: make a living, while it is the children who are radicalised.
     There are two reasons for this. The first is the battle for the soul which takes place every generation - the same one which sees the children of religious parents drop out of the church, while couples who never see the inside of a church are surprised, even dismayed, when one of their children "gets religion". The other is that the second generation of migrants often find themselves in an identity limbo, not belonging to their parents' society, but not fully members of the adopted one. Even Andrew Bolt admitted that he had an identity problem when he was young, and he was Dutch! The same thing, of course, happens with Asian immigrants. But although there are more Buddhists in Australia than Muslims, they are not the ones who become terrorists. However, Islam possesses a tradition of violence against the outsider which has a special appeal to those with frustration and anger in their hearts. And I have previously explained why native converts to Islam - apostates from our own society - so often become violent radicals.
     With all this in mind, I feel I can confidently make the following statements about Muslim immigration:
  1. It is of no advantage to Australia. I'm not denying that the vast majority are productive citizens, but they aren't contributing anything which immigrants from our traditional sources couldn't provide. To put it bluntly, we don't need Muslims.
  2. There can be no benefit in introducing a false religion. No, I don't intend to defend my own religion. It doesn't matter whether you are a Christian, an atheist, or something else; if you belong to the 97.4% who are not Muslims then, by definition, you have accepted that Islam is false. Diversity is not an advantage if it means introducing wrong ideas.
  3. To the extent that Muslims practise their religion, they are unable to fit into our way of life. Even the benign practices of Islam, such as rejecting certain foods, or praying five times a day, mean withdrawing from mainstream activities.
  4. The more Muslims we have, the more violence and antisocial activity. If only one in a thousand were extremists (however defined), then out of a population of 109,000 there would be 109 extremists. Out of a population of 640,000, there will be 640 - assuming, of course, that the proportion remains constant, and is not increased by group pressure. If there are a million Muslims present ... well, do your own maths.
    What bright spark decided we needed more than half a million Muslims in this country, or that nearly half of them should congregate in our largest city? Did you vote for it? Were you consulted? We never had this problem under the White Australia Policy, because it ensured that all immigrants were basically similar to us. If we are not now prepared to use race as a substitute for culture, we should at least be more selective in the people we take in. We should refuse to accept any migrants from majority Islamic countries unless we know for sure they are not Muslims.
    Opinion polls reveal that half the population agrees with the idea. But as soon as you suggest it to members of the Establishment, they have a phobic reaction. "You can't discriminate against migrants on the basis of religion!" they wail. Why not? Come on, let's hear an answer! We deserve to be told.
    "We have a non-discriminatory immigration policy." Why? Just chanting the policy as if it were a mantra does not justify it. Are they saying that everybody on earth has some sort of human right to an equal opportunity to settle in Australia? Where do they get these crazy ideas?
    "We can't discriminate against the good Muslim because of the actions of the bad ones," I heard some Establishment figure claim. Look! Suppose you were the manager of a supermarket, and one supplier always supplied good apples, while another always supplied one rotten apple in every box of otherwise good apples. Which supplier are you going to use? Well, terrorism is the rotten apple in the Islamic box. We don't need it. We can use other suppliers. Besides, as I pointed out before, it is not just the migrants we have to worry about. All too often it is the second generation.
      You hear other excuses. Daniel Pipes, who is a very learned specialist on Islamic history, says we should concentrate on "smoking out Islamists" ie those who push Islam as a political ideology. With all due respect, this has two major problems. The first is the one I have already mentioned: radicalisation of the second generation. The second is that distinguishing between Islamists and other Muslims is meaningless. It is like labeling as "Christianist" all those who believe in the Great Commission to "go forth and make disciples of all nations". In both cases it simply identifies those who take their religion seriously. Of course all good Muslims wish to expand their religion to take in the whole world, just as good Christians do. That is fundamental to the worship of the One True God. The difference is that, whereas Christianity has no political ideology, Islam is an ideology which covers every aspect of a person's life, even down to using the toilet (I am not exaggerating), and with set rules regulating the whole of society. And it involves conquest and the oppression of outsiders.
     But even if it were a completely peaceful religion, do we really want to bring in people who will set up a parallel society to our own, and who will attempt to convert our children to their beliefs? Refer back to point #2 above.
     It is also stated that Islam exists in a variety of forms, just like Christianity. The trouble is, the similarities are greater than the differences. If you knew nothing about a man except that he was a Christian and took his faith seriously, you could make many accurate predictions about what he believes and how he will act, without needing to know whether he were Catholic, Coptic, or Congregationalist. The same goes for Muslims.
    Another claim you hear is that Islam needs a Reformation, just like Christianity had. The people who say this don't know what either term means. Islam has had a Reformation; that is the problem. The aim of the Protestant Reformation was to get back to the teachings of the early church, and remove the extraneous material which had accumulated over the centuries. Well, there are Muslims who wish to return to the teachings of Moḥammed and his immediate caliphs. They are called Salafists, and they are the ones who responsible for all the violence. It is not a matter of getting rid of the violent and intolerant attitudes built up over centuries. They are getting rid of the tolerant and peaceable attitudes which had built up under the dominance of Western society.
     "Moderate Muslims" is another term you hear, without any indication as to how they are to be distinguished from plain, simple, non-practising Muslims. Pipes estimates that Islamists represent about 10 to 15% of the population, and he is probably right. These are the ones who take the strictures of the Koran and the hadiths at their face value. It must also be remembered that Saudi Arabia is the home of a very hard line form of Salafism called Wahhabism, and they are using their oil money to extend their influence throughout the Muslim world. They are the ones responsible for introducing Wahhabist imams into Australian mosques in increasing numbers. It is these imams who are preaching hatred against unbelievers in general and Jews in particular, who warn their congregations not be make friends with non-Muslims (for which they can find justification in the Koran), and to make no compromises with unbelievers, even to refuse compulsory third party insurance on the basis that it is a form of gambling!
    Again, take the  construction of the large mosques-cum-Islamic centres, out of all proportion to the size of the local Islamic community, which tend to get proposed all over the country, and which produce such strong community backlashes. If you follow the money trail, you will almost certainly discover it leads back to Saudi Arabia. One Muslim spokesman made a telling complaint: that if local communities keep resisting such centres, Muslims will not be able to expand outside of their current enclaves. The obvious corollary of this, of course, is that if we allow such centres, Muslims will start migrating into the area, and there goes the neighbourhood!
     Against this, the mainstream religious Muslims - the Aḥmeds of the country, who want only to live out their faith in peace - are powerless. After all, jihad is a fundamental teaching of Islam. When it comes to the crunch, they cannot reject it. They may reject the terrorists, but they are forced to agree that the extremists are extreme in the right cause. They are the sea in which the extremists swim. Also, you really ought to check these opinion polls from around the world to see just how extreme the "moderates" really are.
     I personally personally know a different sort of "moderate Mulsim". Like many who list themselves are Christian in the census, they call themselves Muslims, but they ignore the hours of prayer, visit the mosque quite irregularly, eat any food other than pork, drink alcohol, and, if female, leave their hair uncovered. In other words, they fit in well into our society because they are slack. Many of them complain that they left their own countries to get away from the restrictions of the hardliners, but now the latter have caught up with them over here.
     I would be tempted to say that the only good Muslim is a slack Muslim, but unfortunately, it is possible to be both slack and bad. The Cronulla riots, remember, started as a protest against the harassment of Australian women on the beach by Lebanese Muslim men. These men are unlikely to spend much of their time praying or attending the mosque, but it should be noted that we don't have the same problem with the irreligious members of the Lebanese Christian community. Likewise, in much of Europe Muslim enclaves are hotbeds of drug smuggling and other crimes incompatible with their religion. The Muslims responsible for the sexual assaults on German women on New Year's Day 2015, and the Pakistanis grooming white teenagers for sex in Rotherham, were probably not very religious. However, as Mark Durie has explained in this interview, they are acting out attitudes explicit in Islam: contempt for unbelievers, and contempt for women. (Do we want to wait until the situation gets as bad as it is in Sweden? See also here.)

So How Should We Treat Our Muslim Citizens?
     Politely, of course, and respectfully. We should engage with them and not harass them, but...
  1. The rule should be that they are free to practise their religion, but we will make no concessions to them. I think this is only reasonable. After all, they or their parents came to this country to improve their financial prospects, even though they knew it was not organised on Islamic lines. So now they should expect to accept the latter with the former. Thus, although I am not urging the general banning of the face veil (yet), it can be forbidden in situations where other face coverings are banned. The head scarf is another matter. Australian women still wear it (sometimes), so Muslim women should be allowed to wear it. Nevertheless, we should explain to them, politely, that it is socially unacceptable. Employers should be permitted to reject it as part of their dress code. And it should certainly not be permitted in schools. As for praying in business hours or attending mosque on Friday, the law will neither help nor hinder them. (And why are our governments paying them millions of dollars?)
  2. We should insist on reciprocity. No Islamic organisation should be allowed to accept money, directly for indirectly, from any country which does not permit the same freedom of religion to non-Muslims as Muslims receive here. (In effect, of course, this means all Muslim nations.)
  3. We should demand that the Federation of Imams issue a fatwa rejecting the entire doctrine of jihad, and any imam who does not comply should be blackballed by the Government. This encompasses the teachings that the Muslim community is obliged to conquer non-Muslims, that non-Muslims must be subjected to various humiliating conditions and forbidden to preach to Muslims, and that any Muslim who changes his religion must be punished, preferably by death. Lest there be any weasling out, it must be emphasized that "defending Islam" does not entail conquering countries like Greece or Spain which were once under Muslim control, but have since been liberated. Similarly, it does not mean seizing political power in order to increase the prestige of Islam.
  4. And there must be a complete ban on further Muslim immigration.