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Q and A
Protests and Palestine
#Muhammad - When They Insult Our Prophet (PBUH)
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WHERE do I start? Perhaps with the viral image that will come to define this episode: a child who'd be three or four hoisting a sign triumphantly above his head blaring ''Behead all those who insult the Prophet'' while a woman, presumably his mother, thinks this is cute enough to capture on her smartphone. Alternatively, I could begin with the observation that the trailer for the anti-Islamic film that ostensibly started this all, Innocence of Muslims, is now a blockbuster, with YouTube hits in the millions thanks largely to the protesters around the world who think nobody should see it.
This is the behaviour of a drunkenly humiliated people: swinging wildly with the hope of landing a blow, any blow, somewhere, anywhere.
No. Let's start with the fact that so few of the protesters who descended on Sydney's CBD this weekend seem actually to have seen the film that so gravely offends them. When asked by journalists, they bluntly admit this, one even adding that she refuses to watch something so offensive. It's almost impressive how cyclical this stupidity is. But it's also instructive. In fact, this is the key to making sense of something so gobsmackingly senseless. The protesters - at least the ones quoted in news reports - know nothing except how offended they are.
That, you see, is all that matters. This isn't about a film. It's about an excuse. We know because we've seen it all before, like when Pakistani protesters vandalised American fast food outlets and burnt effigies of President George W. Bush in response to the Danish cartoons.
We know because so much of the weekend's ranting was nakedly gratuitous: ''Our dead are in paradise, your dead are in hell''. Pardon? Which dead? Weren't we talking about a movie?
This is the behaviour of a drunkenly humiliated people: swinging wildly with the hope of landing a blow, any blow, somewhere, anywhere. There's nothing strategic or calculated about this. It doesn't matter that they are the film's most effective publicists. It doesn't matter that they protest using offensive slogans and signs, while protesting against people's right to offend. It doesn't matter that they object to insulting people on the basis of their religion, while declaring that Christians have no morals. This is baffling only until you realise these protesters are not truly protesting to make a point. The protest is the point.
It feels good. It feels powerful. This is why people yell pointlessly or punch walls when frustrated. It's not instrumental. It doesn't achieve anything directly. But it is catharsis. Outrage and aggression is an intoxicating prospect for the powerless.
Accordingly, it is not an option to leave an insult unanswered because that is a sign of weakness, rather than transcendence.
The irony is that it grants an extraordinary level of power to those doing the offending. It puts them constantly at the centre of your world. That's why, when Gallup polled 35 Muslim majority countries, it found that of all the gripes the Muslim world has against the West, among the most pervasive is the West's ''disrespect for Islam''.
And it is this disrespect that is the overarching grievance that subsumes others. Everything, global and local, can be thrown into this vortex: Swiss minaret bans, French niqab bans, military invasions, drone strikes, racist stereotyping, anti-immigrant politics, and yes, even films so ridiculously bad that, left to their own devices, they would simply lampoon themselves.
This is what gives Innocence of Muslims meaning: not its content, but its context. It's a symbol of contempt, which is why protests against it so quickly turn into an orgy of anti-Americanism. So, ''Obama, Obama, we love Osama'' they scream, mainly because it's the most offensive rhyme they can muster. Osama, too, is a symbol; the most repugnant one in their arsenal. How better to prove you exist than to say something outrageous?
That the Obama administration immediately condemned the film in the strongest terms doesn't register. Nor that the White House took the extraordinary (and ultimately unsuccessful) step of asking Google to pull the video. This is invisible to an audience of humiliated souls waiting desperately to be offended and conflate every grievance. Indeed, they need the offence. It gives them the chance to assert themselves so they can feel whole, righteous even. It's a shortcut to self-worth.
The trouble is that in our digital world, there is always something to oblige. Anyone can Google their prejudices, and there is always enraging news to share with others. Entire online communities gather around the sharing of offensive material and subsequent communal venting. Soon you have a subculture: a sub-community whose very cohesion is based almost exclusively on shared grievance. Then you have an identity that has nothing to say about itself; an identity that holds an entirely impoverished position: that to be defiantly angry is to be.
Frankly, Muslims should find that prospect nothing short of catastrophic. It renders Islamic identity entirely hollow. All pride, all opposition, no substance. ''Like the Incredible Hulk,'' observes Abdal Hakim Murad, a prominent British Islamic scholar, ''ineffectual until provoked.''
Sometimes you need a scandal to demonstrate an underlying disease. And that's the good news here. The vast bulk of Saturday's protesters were peaceful, and Muslim community organisations are lining up to condemn the outbreak of violence. But now a more serious conversation is necessary. One that's not about how we should be speaking out to defend our prophet and ourselves. One that's more about whether we can speak about anything else.
Waleed Aly hosts the Drive program on ABC Radio National and is a lecturer in politics at Monash University
We owe so much to Muslim people. There was a time when Western Culture had fallen into such darkness that the best plan we could produce was an invasion of the Middle East.
It's for good reason this period of history is known as the Dark Ages. We were the terrorists in those days, driven by an ideology that gave us permission to invade and brutally treat peoples who were minding their own business.
Mind you, we didn't call ourselves terrorists in those days, we called our invaders "Crusaders".
I write on behalf of myself and other colleagues at St Brigid’s Parish, at the Marrickville Multifaith Roundtable, and at the Sydney Alliance to express our support to you as leaders within your various organisations of the Islamic Community.
Over the past few years we have walked many steps together. We have grown in respect for one another and our various religious traditions. We have been discovering new ways in Australia to support one another on our spiritual journeys. We have stood together at various public functions as a sign of solidarity, especially in times of oppression.
The use of films and other technologies to defame our spiritual leaders past and present is not acceptable to any of us, nor is the pathway of violence. Each of us know the pathway of our God is one of Peace and Justice for all.
I commend you to God in the leadership you are exercising at this time. Please remember you do not stand alone. We value the contribution that your various Islamic Communities have brought to great Sydney and to this Nation.
Allah Akbar. God is truly Great.
Fr John Pearce CP
I was up since 4:30 AM that morning, the nerves had gotten the better of me and I couldn’t get back to sleep. I eventually got out of bad, got all my stuff together in a mad dash and headed to Southbank. I was given a tag and sent to the kitchen, where I met some of the other participants who were all lovely. I was third up so I eagerly awaited my chance to set up my table.
The judge’s feedback was extremely good, Peter and Dilhan exclaiming that my macorons combined with my cinnamon tea took them back to their childhood. Bernd, who said he has become so sick of macarons, was also very complimentary, stating he was glad I didn’t colour them, and kept them natural and did something completely different and unique with them. Peter and Dilhan were also excited at my efforts at speaking Sinhalese. “Ayubowan”, a Sri Lankan greeting, for which I have the parents of Maryam’s Kitchen to thank.
But those good compliments were met with some negatives. I honestly didn’t realise the judges would have such high expectations, their attention to detail was second to none and they wanted to have a complete high tea experience, which I don’t believe I delivered. In my nerves there were a few things I neglected, I didn’t fill the sugar bowl, I didn’t give them milk (I had planned on serving black tea though) and they also wanted honey as an option, Dilhan also commented that I didn’t brew the tea long enough (even though when they were ready to move on to the next table, he stayed to finish that last sip)
After my judging was complete, I went to the balcony where a photographer was waiting to take pictures of my macarons. Now let me tell you, this isn’t any photographer, this is the photographer that took the pictures for Adriano Zumbo’s next macaron book (Zumborons)!! I guess that totally qualifies my macarons into celebrity status.
It was a wonderful experience and I think the thing that will stay with me was Dilhan saying, “Come back next year and knock our socks off!”
Bernd Uber, Dilhan Fernando and Peter
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would like to inform all your readers about our
Mussallah in Lismore NSW.
For last three years the Muslim community in Lismore
and the Northern River area have been praying Juma
and other prayers at the back room in the BP service
As the number of Muslims in the far north coast has
been growing steadily for the last few years we have
realized that we needed a bigger place to pray and
use as community place for all the Muslims in this
Recently we have found a place to rent which is
suitable for our needs and caters for our growing
community and Muslims travelling to this area, and
who would like to pray and rest.
The new address is 149 Woodlark Street, Lismore NSW
also call Br Shahzad on 0411055488 or Br Anis on
I have just viewed a beautiful video through your
newsletter about Hazrat Muhamaad Mustafa (sallahoalehwasalam)
and the presenter explained the good points from our
Prophet's life in a simple and touching way.
This is the way I was thinking to use for expressing
our anger because I have read somewhere, war of
sword should be fought by sword, war through pen
always be responded by pen (writing) and cyber wars
can be better won by the same way, I was rather
thinking that some Muslim hacker can do something to
remove that bad video from the net.
once and is
KB says: This dish is a big hit
served as a finger food or as a starter to a main course.
You can use a satay sauce from the supermarket but this
recipe allows you to experiment with the quantities to suit
Chicken Satay Sticks
Ingredients 500g chicken fillet
1 cup coriander leaves chopped
1 tsp crushed garlic
1 tsp ground green chillies
½ tsp salt
½ tsp coarse black pepper
1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
4 Tab lemon juice
4 Tab tamarind juice
1½ tsp crushed cumin
1 tsp crushed coriander
1. Cut chicken into 6cm x 11cm strips
2. Process coriander leaves, spices, sauces,
lemon juice and tamarind juice.
3. Pour into bowl and add coriander and cumin
4. Mix well and add chicken strips and marinate
for 2-3 hours.
5. Skewer chicken, concertina style and grill
for 5 minutes on the either side.
6. Serve with satay sauce.
½ x100g bottle of peanut butter
1 tsp tamarind concentrate
½ cup lemon juice
2 tsp ground green chillies
Mix the above ingredients and cook the mixture
for 2 to 3 minutes adding salt to taste, cool
sure to have a healthy breakfast and leave yourself enough
time to get to the venue.
sure you are well hydrated and re-hydrate throughout the
race as well as after.
Warm up before the event, find a pace that’s comfortable to
start off with and then challenge yourself in order to run
your best race! Make sure you stretch after the race and
reward yourself with a massage if possible.
Try to keep your fitness routine going in the days after the
race with breaks on the days that you’re feeling a little
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