Last week, the Daily Telegraph’s Luke McIlveen was defending Iktimal Hage-Ali (in both article and op-ed) over criticisms she had received by anonymous posters on the Muslim Village internet forums. McIlveen has previously reported the activities of Muslim online forums, even going as far to suggest they are being used to recruit extremists. He’s also run some hysterical stories on national security in the context of both Lebanese and Muslim Australians. Now this week, McIlveen and a colleague have written up a piece on Hage-Ali being arrested and then released without charge following an investigation by the NSW Police’s Middle East Crime section. The story has been run today in the Daily Telegraph, the Courier-Mail and Adelaide Advertiser. It hasn’t thus far appeared on the website of The Oz. In all three papers, McIlveen acknowledges that he “first learned of her arrest last week”. He doesn’t advise exactly when last week. So why not report it back then? And why did McIlveen (and his colleagues including Piers Akerman) devote so many words to defending Hage-Ali hardly 7 days ago? Did they know about the November 22 drug bust at the time they knew about Hage-Ali’s arrest? Speaking of online forums, Radio National’s The World Today poured a bucket on the Daily Telegraph’s moderating of anonymous blog feedback. The story cited Peter Manning and yours truly. I was quoted as follows:

I was on a Daily Telegraph forum to do with multiculturalism where they actually asked me to talk with their readers, and some reader told me that, you know, that I should go back to where I came from, which, you know, some people would regard that as a racist comment.

But in what context did I say this? I actually said moderators of blogs must often perform a juggling act. It’s often important to allow nasty and even racist views to be published if for no other reason that the ugly views be exposed. In the case of my own Tele blog, I allowed the offensive comments through so that I could methodically deconstruct the prejudices involved. 

Still, the Tele can’t legitimately criticise less well-resourced Muslim Village forum moderators enabling bigoted views to be aired. Especially when Tele readers use Tele blogs to express racist views.

Peter Fray

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