Some Crikey writers have speculated about a change in government possibly leading to our national broadsheet toning down some of its far-Right cultural warrior ways. But if the journalistic lynching of Swiss-born philosopher and author Dr Tariq Ramadan in The Australian is anything to go by, monocultural hawks at the paper aren’t giving up without a fight.

Leading the sectarian attack against Dr Ramadan over the weekend was new Opinion Editor of The Oz Rebecca Weissner. She makes a huge issue of the fact that Dr Ramadan happens to be the grandson of the late Hasan al-Banna, the founder of an Egyptian organisation called al-Ikhwan al-Muslimeen (literally “Muslim Brotherhood”).

Yes, and? Is Weissner alleging that Dr Ramadan agrees with everything his grandfather’s movement stood for? Using the same reasoning, would Ms Weissner also allege that Senator Eric Abetz is a neo-Nazi? After all, Senator Abetz’s great uncle played a senior role in a rather nasty political movement that held sway over much of Europe during the first half of the 20th century.

Abetz rightly refers to those who play the game of “slur … by association with such a distant relative” as being completely unfair and un-Australian. It would be a shame if an editor of a newspaper calling itself The Australian would engage in such un-Australian conduct.

It’s hardly surprising Weissner provides space on her page to tabloid columnist Melanie Phillips. Some readers might recall Phillips’ visit to Australia some 12 months back to promote her book Londonistan, which makes the extraordinary claim that political Islamism is the dominant strain in contemporary Muslim societies. I’d love to see her make that claim in Pakistan, where Islamist parties suffered near-annihilation in recent elections.

Phillips’ diatribe against Dr Ramadan includes the extraordinary claim that he supports the implementation of sharia (Islamic sacred law) as the law of the land in all (including Western) countries. She obviously hasn’t read Ramadan’s call for draconian criminal punishments often associated with sharia to be the subject of an indefinite moratorium where they exist in Muslim-majority states. She also doesn’t refer to Ramadan’s criticism of the recent sharia speech by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Ramadan is attending a 3-day conference in Brisbane starting today. Prior to his arrival in Australia, Dr Ramadan visited New Zealand where his tour was supported by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs & Trade. None of the Kiwi papers made a fuss about the visit.

Peter Fray

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