While NSW Catholic MPs resist excommunication today, many federal MPs yesterday happily threatened their own forms of excommunication.

The PM has used any and every excuse, whether Sheik Hilaly’s refusal to stand down or even anonymous YouTube videos, to threaten excommunication of Muslims to the margins of Australia’s integrated society. Now, with Dr Pell being compared with “serial boofhead Sheik Hilaly”, Howard is silent.

Then Education Minister Brendan Nelson wanted to ensure Muslim independent schools taught Aussie values or face excommunication from government funding. Today’s Education Minister is strangely silent when Dr Pell insists Catholic schools ignore Australian values by ignoring popular sentiment on issues like abortion and homosexuality.

Peter Costello used a Christian Lobby conference to lecture Muslims on adopting the Australian value of the separation of church and state. He was also prepared to hold Muslims collectively responsible for Hilaly’s antics because they allegedly waited for media reports on the infamous cat-meat sermon before saying anything.

Yeah, right. As if 360,000 (mostly non-Arabic speaking) Muslims could fit in Lakemba’s Imam Ali Mosque (capacity 3000) anticipating Hilaly’s guidance on female dress. Today, Peter Costello defends Pell’s right to potentially compromise the separation of church and state, whilst refusing to hold Catholics collectively responsible.

And why should Catholics be held collectively responsible? Grassroots Aussie Catholics had as little say in Pell’s appointment as grassroots Aussie Muslims did in Hilaly’s appointment, or even in his dismissal. Heck, if Julian Morrow from The Chaser can’t shut Hilaly up with tape, how can I?

Yet, the worst case of hypocrisy comes from the editorial writers of The Oz . National Party MP Adrian Piccoli hit the nail on the head when he told Radio National that:

… in Australia, if Sheikh al-Hilaly had made that same kind of declaration to members of Parliament of the Muslim faith, telling them how to vote, I think there’d be outrage. I think it would be front-page of every newspaper and there would be outrage against him. I see this by the Catholic Church as being a similar thing.

Well, The Oz certainly doesn’t see it as similar. Today’s editorial defends Pell’s “mixing affairs of the church with the state”, alleging he “is doing no more than his job … to explain and uphold Catholic principles, to remind Australian Catholics of the rules that apply to their lives, if lived as Catholics.”

Really? Sheik Hilaly claims he did the same in his cat-meat speech, did he not? And he wasn’t even lecturing Muslim MPs on a crucial vote. Who could write such an editorial oozing with hypocrisy? Has Keysar Trad resigned from his post as the former mufti’s adviser to work at The Oz writing editorials?

And to think this is the same editorial space used to describe yours truly as a Hilaly apologist!

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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