Fred Nile’s Christian Democrat Party (CDP) is really losing the religious plot. On Saturday, Nile issued a press release entitled “NO MORE MUSLIMS” in which Fred Nile announced he wanted a ten-year ban on Muslim immigration to allow more Middle Eastern Christians into Australia.

Then on Monday, Nile announced the CDP’s preference scheme, which would give second preference to the Liberals “in a number of agreed Lower House Seats”. In other seats, preferences would go to Labor “to prevent the Greens or Muslims winning Seats in the … Lower House”.

Yesterday’s Daily Telegraph reported the preference deal “will be targeted at denying ‘Muslim’ Liberals any chance – such as in Marrickville where the Liberals are standing Ramzy Mansour”. The Telegraph confirmed to Crikey that Fred specifically mentioned Ramzy Mansour as Marrickville’s Muslim Liberal candidate.

My decade-long NSW Liberal Party membership lapsed in 2002. I know the Mansour family, three members of which are running in the seats of Marrickville, Lakemba and Canterbury.

The Mansours are true-blue Liberals. They are also Egyptian migrants. One is a former member of the Egyptian armed forces. Nile says he wants more places for Middle Eastern Christians, yet he cannot identify Christians like Ramzy, Morris and Phillip Mansour when he sees them.

To make matters worse, CDP head office in Sydney’s leafy upper North Shore told Crikey yesterday that Liverpool voters should preference the Liberal candidate. Ned Mannoun is a young Australian entrepreneur whose family migrated some years back from Lebanon. No prizes for guessing Ned’s religious background.

Late yesterday afternoon, CDP’s Liverpool candidate in Liverpool Elizabeth Hall told Crikey she wasn’t aware of the non-Muslim preference deal, but she said she had met the Liberal candidate earlier that day. Hall said she distinguished between people of Muslim background and people who had “active Muslim faith”. She said the Party had already printed her how-to-vote sheets.

Fred Nile’s policy isn’t about favouring Middle Eastern Christians and keeping Muslims out of Parliament. It’s more about Nile’s own Eurocentric assumptions of what makes someone Christian or Muslim.

So if the Libs ran an Aramaic-speaking candidate of Middle Eastern appearance called Isa al-Massih (Arabic for “Jesus Christ”), he can expect no CDP preferences.

After reading Fred Nile’s press releases and watching his promotional video, I reckon here’s how Fred would spot a Muslim candidate:

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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