From a perceived lack of objective media analysis to a shortsighted, biased foreign policy, your concerns are here.

As an Australian Muslim, I’d like to comment on the recent article
in the Sunday Telegraph titled “Challenge facing local Muslims”.
How unfortunate that our National Day of Mourning was chosen to
publish such a divisive article, a day when all religious groups
joined together as one in condemnation of the recent attacks.

I have to sometimes wonder what the true motives are when an article
such as this is published with selective use of quotes and references
from non-mainstream views or extremist interpretations of Islam. It’s
a double standard that suggests that the average Australian Muslim
must be held responsible for educating extremists overseas, when the
cause is in most cases the inaction or inability of western
Governments to deal with issues facing those in a less fortunate
situation than ours.

As Muslims we abhor all acts of murder, no matter what the
background of the victims. For some reason innocent people dying
in other parts of the world such as Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan
seem not worthy of a mention in this article, as if a persons
nationality should be the ultimate criteria as to whether they
deserve our sympathy or not.

The concept of a forced conversion is alien to Islam. There is
no example of anyone in Australia being forced to convert to
Islam, despite the demand for Muslims to provide assurances
to the contrary. In Islam, the ends do not justify the means.
Any Australian need only pick up a Qu’ran to see through this
scare mongering – eg. verse 2:256 “Let there be no compulsion
in religion”. Muslims condemn any instances of women being
insulted or even assaulted due to their manner of dress, whether
they be non-Muslim, or even Muslim as is more often the case.

As an Australian and a Muslim, I reject any insinuation that
I must choose between the two, it’s as absurd as asking someone
to choose between being an Australian and a Christian or any other
religion. Everyone is free to promote their own view on religion
and lifestyle, and Muslims are no exception. Articles such as this
one do nothing to promote harmony in Australian society, and only
serve to cause greater divisions.

Peace and Regards,
Sam De Francesco
Webmaster
IslamicSydney.com

Vanishing Governor-General

What’s goes on with the Governor-General? A week after Bali the only
evidence I’ve seen is the trace of wattle left by the ghost of William
Deane on the lapels of all and sundry. Has the PM so effectively
emasculated the role of the so-called Head of State [oops…sorry…we did
hear from the Queen] that nothing more than the following statement is
allowed to issue forth from Yarralumla on October 13:

“On his departure this afternoon from Sydney to join World War II veterans
in Egypt for 60th anniversary services commemorating the loss of lives,
including many Australians, in the Battle of El Alamein, the
Governor-General, Peter Hollingworth, expressed his horror and sadness
about the overnight bombings in Bali.

“All Australians will be shocked by this senseless attack on so many young
and innocent holiday makers,” he said. “Our hearts go out to the families
and friends of those who have been killed or injured and to those still
awaiting news of missing loved ones.”

It would seem we’ve gone from a great GG to a vacuum in a single John
Howard appointment.

Cheers,

Graham Webber

US Bali coverage too Yankcentric

As on Aussie in the US, I rely entirely on the net to get my local news fix. Despite having Australians all over the NY Post, there’s very little of the “rest of the world” covered in this city.

Your criticism of News Ltd papers is generally fair – on Sunday they virtually ignored the news. Someone should tell their editors that news isn’t a 9-5 business.

I do think – however – that your spray at news.com.au is off the mark. On Sunday, they were changing their top stories every 10 mins or so to reflect the latest circumstances. I don’t care whether there’s four stories or 40, as long as I’m getting the latest. In the past week, I’ve leant heavily towards this site for the basic facts.

The SMH, on the other hand, has been too analytical. They’ve left a couple of big stories out of their top section to give their columnists a run. I’m not a fan of that – I’m guessing it’s a ploy to give their paper writers a higher profile. Also, on Sunday, the site was carrying conflicting reports left, right and centre.

Nick Thomas

Hawkish Howard to blame

Sad though it is to see innocent people dying in such a way it seemed inevitable that Australia, through the Government’s hawkish attitude, would eventually be drawn further into this awful malaise.

If this government continues with its bellicose attitude toward ‘Islamic Extremist’s and cuddlesome partnership with the ‘evil empire’ of America, it will not be long before the so-called war on terrorism finds itself in our own back yard. Politically this may be very convenient for the war mongering of the Libs.

Remember Thatcher and Argentina, very convenient that one! As for the press, well they have always been for the big end of town, can’t say too much against today’s Government as it will have an adverse economic impact on advertising revenue.

The real questions will either not be asked, or indeed pursued, basically as most journalists have sold their souls to the almighty dollar. I hope John Pillger picks up on this one, at least he has the internal fortitude to get dirty. Never let it be said that Australians were not targeted, of course they were.

Val Bridge

Aggressive rhetoric has consequences

Congratulations to John Howard and Alexander Downer. Proving with the
attacks in Bali that politicians shouldn’t play strong arm poker when they
hold no cards – the US has overwhelming military strength to back up its
war mongering. If our two stooges had kept their rhetoric more subdued they
wouldn’t have blood on their hands.

Neville Chamberlain

Media coverage with no analysis

Having read and watched endless repetitive reports on the “Blast in
Bali”, I decided last night to switch of the telly rather than hear the
latest brain-fart to seep out the reporters gob, and put a lot of
thought into some of the rubbish.

The things most haunting were…. “The government has had information
relating to the POSSIBILITY of such an attack” of course they have, and
not to want to panic the sheep, but they have recieved considerable
intelligence of the possibility of attacks within Australia. The point
is, it’s a possiblity, that it, you cannot act on a crime not yet
committed nor generate panic, we all know the risks associated with
travel, particularly to inflamed regions.

Yet you tell the people, and they are invincible anyway, well until IT
happens, although, in the same breath, should they be scared of
travelling to the said regions? No!

That brings me to the next point, seeing a daft mother receiving her son
in perfect health (maybe a little Bali belly) stating that she will
never let him leave Australia again, how narrow minded these people
are, and to the reporters for displaying the inept on the telly, they
should be sent to Port Arthur in Tasmania and shoot… (sorry if
that’s a little insensitive but trying to make a point, we are not so
safe here).

I am not insensitive to the loss of life here, please don’t get me
wrong, I’m just aggressively opposed to the bile the reporters sell us,
they are the one’s insensitive to the loss, as they choose to
capitalise on such a tragedy.

Please switch of these endless reports, let people grieve in peace or
at least provide us with the answers only and stop trampling on the
evidence to get the story.

Paul.

Hugo Kelly hasn’t got a clue

Hugo Kelly as a war correspondent, that is a laugh. He should stick to the
domestic scene if the calibre of his analysis is any indication of his
understanding of the Bali massacre.

I know he hates John Howard but the lengths he goes to lay the blame for
this murderous act on the Prime Minister stretches his already thin
credibility to the breaking point. At least he spared us from another
grovelling episode by not suggesting his hero, Paul Keating, would have
saved the day. Hugo almost got there though by suggesting Kim Beazley would
have got the Indonesians to tackle the terrorists in their midst. What
utter bulldust. The Indonesian Government has been under strong pressure
for months from the Government’s of Singapore, Malaysia and the United
States (among others) at all levels to deal with the obvious terrorist
menace within Indonesia. They have all been rebuffed and ridiculed by the
Indonesian Government and media. And here we have Hugo trying to tell us a
minor and failed Opposition Leader and Defence Minister could have been more
effective than John Howard. How pathetic is that.

Worse still Hugo takes the Bob Brown line that Howard and Co. have brought
this down upon us from their strong support of the US war on terrorism.
This is where the obvious blind political hatred and ideological stupidity
becomes dangerous. It is still not clear if the Bali bombings were
anti-western in nature or specifically directed at Australians. If it
proves the latter, then Bali would very likely have been at the top of these
murderer’s hit list long before Iraq became an issue and perhaps even before
11 September. The reason being Australia’s role in freeing East Timor.
What do you want us to do Hugo give East Timor back than hide down some hole
and hope the terrorists will forget about us?

I hate to use cliches like Hugo, but this struggle in which it is now
totally clear all Australians are now involved whether we like it or not,
will be long, difficult and brutal. Australia cannot, even in our own
region, successfully tackle what lies ahead without a total commitment, good
friends and allies and strength of purpose. People like Bob Brown and Hugo
drain our sense of purpose by pursuing their narrow, petty agendas and
hatreds ahead of the obvious national interest.

Australia cannot fight this fight alone. It will need the nations of the
region to cooperate and work together. But most importantly, and this is
what the pacifists and the left hate to hear, there will be no successful
fight against this brand of terrorism without the intense involvement,
strong cooperation and the great resources of the United States. John
Howard recognised that long ago. I believe Simon Crean knows this to.

Australia cannot run and hide. It is not an option if we wish to preserve
the things that are dear to us. John Howard is far from perfect but at the
very least he has not sought to use these terrible events to his political
advantage. Something that Bob Brown, Hugo Kelly and the many other bitter
and twisted followers from the left of politics in this country have not had
the courage, wit and honesty to do.

Doug Campbell.

Eerie public silence hides true emotions and lack of answers

A friend of mine catches the same train, at the same time, with the same group of people to work in Sydney everyday. He finds it an interesting guide to public opinion to listen in to these people’s conversations, topics and passions. After Sept 11 he said the conversation was of “epic” proportions for weeks, on peoples reactions, predictions and interest in international affairs.

This week not only have the words Bali, bombs or Sari club not been mentioned once, but people are hardly talking at all. He reports one conversation on the Pakistan cricket effort only. I myself have e-mailed 25 close friends with my views on the Bali bombing, and got only 3 responses. I’m sure this is very deeply felt by most of us and we all care, and you can’t say there hasn’t been a lot of media coverage, but why the individual silence? Possibly because there are no facts established yet, and mostly because many of us feel damned by our own ignorance and helplessness in this war on terror.

In my
view there’s not much the media can do about this deeper issue, in fact I suspect the public perception of media reporting of the Bali issue and continuing “war on terror” will remain poor while we feel someone else, somewhere (politicians/government agencies/media), is only reporting to us what they want us to know and feel, rather than facts.

Peter Wilson

Channel Nine only sensitive to James Packers wishes

I’m sure a hundred other writers have said this, but I found the coverage on Channel 9 of the victim’s, and their families – sticking cameras in people’s faces as they cry, break down, are in extremely vulnerable situations such as at the airport, en route home from a shocking experience, either walking, in wheel chairs or on stretchers – appallingly insensitive.

And it makes an utter mockery of Mr James Packer’s request, on the announcement of his divorce last year, for media sensitivity and restraint. His minions showed no sensitivity or restraint as they exploited the privacy of people who had undergone a far greater emotional shock.

“One rule for me, one rule for everyone else!” would seem to be the junior media heir’s way of thinking, and it stinks.

James.

Tunnel vision and terrorism

The Bali bombings killed scores of Australians and were carried out in a non-Islamic province of Indonesia. Thus, the bombers were Islamic terrorists connected to al Qaeda, right?
Right, according to John Howard, the Liberal government, The USA, the Indonesians and just about everyone else.

Disregard the fact that Semtex-type explosives, available to the Indonesian armed forces, were used.
Disregard the probability that the TNI, humiliated by the Australian-led peacekeeping mission on East Timor, would bear a grudge towards citizens of this country.
Disregard the fact that Indonesian Islamic groups’ major targets of violence have been Indonesian Christians, not foreigners, who have thus far only been the victims of major attacks on East Timor, with the attackers being the TNI-sponsored militias.
Disregard the financial and other gains the TNI might expect from a US-sponsored war against local terrorism.

The latest videotape, allegedly from al Qaeda, congratulates the Bali bombers, but in a completely different manner from the gloating way in which they talked about the twin towers attacks. Could it be that they are just saying, in a surprised and pleased tone, the Arabic equivalent of `goodonyer, mate?’
Would it be useful for police to have a little chat with General Wiranto, with some sort of assurance that the good General won’t tell his interviewers – as he did to an Australian reporter – to “shut up”?

The so-called warnings the Australian government allegedly received, but failed to act on, is a non-issue. No government would have acted on such hazy rumblings. A warning that bombings might be possible in Indonesia would certainly not have deterred holidaymakers on their way to Bali.

We seem to be obsessed by red herrings. It’s about time journalists got on with their main job, which is to question authority. Right now, John Howard is as good a source of news on the Bali incident as most newspapers and TV networks.

Whatever happened to investigate journalism?

Jim Leslie

All the way with USA a fatal policy

The worst case scenario in the so-called war on terrorism has happened –
Australia has become a target. The Howard Government’s naive, misguided
and totally flawed foreign policy has lead to the unnecessary slaughter
and injury of Australians in Bali.

John Howard’s bellicose stance on Iraq and his blind, unquestioning
support of George W Bush and his Middle East policies has been a fatal
mistake.

This is not our war. The attacks on America before, on and after
September 11 last year have been the result of injustice, frustration
and desperation over decades in Palestine and other parts of the Middle
East – perpetrated largely by the American/Jewish/Zionist axis (a
topical word these days).

Israel has taken control of 100% of Palestinian lands since early last
century, and under Prime Minister Sharon, with unswerving military and
political support from George W Bush, will not even entertain returning
20% of this land so that a legitimate Palestinian State can be formed
with a very good prospect for lasting peace.

Australia has never had any material involvement in these issues, and
should have stayed on the sidelines. Now we are high on the list of
terrorist targets.

Terrorism, by its very nature, can’t be defeated. It will be impossible
to stop without addressing the root causes. The first priority is to fix
Palestine, then look at other grievances in the region, then root out
extremists of all persuasions.

Escalation of the war on terror will achieve nothing but further
bloodshed, and now, tragically, some of that blood is Australian.

John Tomlin

Peter Fray

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