Some years back, I appeared on an SBS Insight program to discuss the then-upcoming 2004 Federal election. The program’s researchers were interested in my views on private school education. But during the live telecast, I managed to slip in words

The government is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on convincing permanent residents to become citizens. Who would want to be a citizen after the way they are treating David Hicks?

Insight host Jenny Brockie quickly moved onto another person on the panel. But some three years later, the issue of David Hicks is even more on the electorate’s mind.

host Jenny Brockie quickly moved onto another person on the panel. But some three years later, the issue of David Hicks is even more on the electorate’s mind.

There is still a tiny minority of the allegedly conservative commentariat who condemn Hicks. Writing in The Sydney Morning Herald yesterday, Gerard Henderson spoke for this fringe when he reminded us of the real reason a small minority continue to want this Australian citizen to remain at Guantanamo.

Henderson wrote: “Hicks … changed his name to Mohammed Dawood some years ago”. Tabloid columnists Piers Akerman and Andrew Bolt consistently refer to Hicks as “Mohammed Dawood”, as does Daily Telegraph opinion editor Tim Blair on his personal blog.

Blair’s recent blog entry on Hicks generated the following comment onto his blog:

This Dawood Mohamad (bloody hell, still cannot get this nonentity’s adopted name right, not that I give a sh-t), is typical of his type, they get caught, then turn “victim mode” for sympathy and understanding. This, individual is not even man enough or has the guts to take what he deserves. Let the little b-stard rot.

In short, the real case against Hicks is couched in the background of sectarian hatred. Hicks converted to Islam and, it is presumed, remains a Muslim.

Despite the insistence of Hicks-haters to use his allegedly adopted name, it seems Hicks isn’t referred to by this name at Guantanamo. Former British inmate Moazzam Begg, in his book Enemy Combatant: A British Muslim’s Journey to Guantanamo And Back , not once refers to Mohammed Dawood.

Instead, on page 290, Begg refers to “the Australian, David Hicks”.

Further, on page 292, Begg relates that Hicks “declared that he was not a practising Muslim any more”. Other former inmates have reported that Hicks had abandoned his Muslim faith altogether.

Now that the sectarian excuse is out of the way, will the fringe Right finally join the campaign to secure justice for an Australian citizen?

Peter Fray

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