Feb 1, 2011

Muslims don’t fit into a simple left v right debate

Last week Fairfax columnist Paul Sheehan fed the idea that Islam is a monolithic entity that's fundamentally incompatible with western values. That's what's wrong with the current debate about Islam, says writer and filmmaker Ruby Hamad.

Last week Fairfax columnist Paul Sheehan took up the cause of Middle Eastern Christians and their persecution by a portion of the Muslim majority and in doing so, fed the idea that Islam is a monolithic entity that’s fundamentally incompatible with western values.

In a piece entitled “As the left sides with Muslims, Christians search for support” Sheehan began by referencing a rally held in Martin Place a fortnight ago, recalling a, “medieval…forest of crucifixes sprouted among a sea of earnest faces that would look comfortable on ancient coins.” The rally, “drawn from a broader Middle Eastern Christian Diaspora,” was protesting the current wave of terrorist attacks targeting Christians in the Middle East.

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24 thoughts on “Muslims don’t fit into a simple left v right debate

  1. Lorry

    It is hard to be inclusive when

    a) you have black hooded ghosts terrifying children in shopping centres.
    b) you view the world through a letter box slit
    c) you don’t respect your women
    d) you don’t respect all women
    e) all non muslim women are referred to as “cat meat”

  2. paddy

    Well put Ruby.
    Which is more than can be said of Crikey’s latest and lamest troll.
    (It’s almost as though Sheehan has grown wheels and a sprouted a loud hailer from the cabin roof. But then perhaps it’s the heat making my imagination run wild.)

  3. Lorry

    Post script to my previous comment –
    f) How can you have “Secular Muslim” – what the? do they not pray 5 times per day or hide their beliefs? In the words of a famous Aussie red head “please explain” ?

  4. MichaelT

    I certainly agree that we need to move the debate away from these ‘us v them’, ‘Christians v Islam’, ‘L v R’ simplifications.

    If we have to take sides, we should consistently take the side of tolerance v repression, and support people of all fiaths to go down this path.

  5. El Tel

    Lorry, does your mummy know you’re using the computer.

  6. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    Way to frame the debate, Lorry. You have obviously got an axle to grind. Don’t keep us in suspension.

  7. t-f-u

    Where are the voices of these liberal, progressive Muslims when their brethren are screaming for the deaths of Danish cartoonists, or murdering Theo Van Gogh, or committing myriad other atrocities? Islam does not seem very compatible with Western values, particularly freedom of speech.

  8. ruby

    Thanks for commenting everyone.

    Lorry- a secular Muslim is a Muslim who believes religion and politics should be kept separate. In other words, not all Muslims want shariah law. There are also many people of Muslim background that are not religious necessarily, but who still feel connected to their heritage. Just like ‘cultural Catholics’ and ‘secular Jews.’

    TFU- As I write this literally millions of Muslims are getting ready to risk their lives to march for the right to free speech. Islam is not incompatible with western values. Fundamentalist Islam is. But then that also goes for fundamentalist Christianity and fundamentalist Judaism. That’s the entire point of my article. For too long, the focus has been on fundamentalists. It’s time to refocus.

  9. Roberto Tedesco

    Paul Sheehan is a loon. A loon with a weekly column in which to parade his prejudices.

  10. klewso

    Sometimes the only thing standing between a man and his god, is his religion!

    Grab one of these “Muslim extremists”, shear the beard, “take off his tea-towel”, bit of a “paint job” – leave the gibberish – and what have you got? One more of these “crash test dummy shock-jocks” inciting us the same way “they” do “them”, more often than not, through “fantasy”. “We’re” supposed to be different.
    Considering the shop front exposure these “journo’s” get for what they do, playing up those prejudices we all have (usually with crap), is there any wonder this fear of others so rampant in our communities, now?
    When do we get the chance to hear from the more moderate, tempered, with “facts”, from their limited resources?

    “Myriad atrocities”? “Western values”?
    Like “Jews”? “Aborigines”? “Native Americans” (“upstairs” and “down”)? “Africans”? In Vietnam, India? “Yugoslavia”? Russia? Iraqi’s, or any one of those other “non-Christian/other Christian savages”?
    How many of these “Islam” governments, in all their “barbarity”, have been sponsored, propped up, aided and abetted, by that very “West” – enraging their own people too?

    It’s a pity we can’t build a tower each, put these “hell raisers” from both sides in them and let them shout at each other across that chasm they’ve created and maintain – meanwhile the rest of us can get on with our lives, down here on the ground.
    I don’t think those “differences” would be all that different.

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