Last week was another huge one for our political leaders to wax lyrical on all things Islamic, Islamist, Islamicist, terrorist and terroristicist. It started with the Prime Minister apologising to Alan Jones for not banning hate preachers who promote violence and hatred (outside Cronulla, of course). Tony Abbott then issued a fatwa that the fringe Muslim group Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT) was unAustralian because it promoted “an ideology which justifies terrorism”.
And as we all know, real Aussies don’t support or promote terrorism or violent political extremism. There have never been Australians supporting pro-Nazi Croatian militias. No one in Abbott’s own faction of the New South Wales Liberal Party has ever heard of the late Slovenian writer Lyenko Urbanchich, who maintained his Liberal Party membership and support for the faction until he died in 2006. And surely it is a complete myth that any Australian would raise money for Sinn Fein, which was long regarded as a mouthpiece of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Imagine Australians supporting terrorists who frequently attacked Abbott’s birthplace of London.
The Daily Telegraph also joined the chorus of HT-haters, reporting HT was to hold a gathering at which a “sinister player in a world of radicals” would speak. The proud owner of this title, Ismail al-Wahwah, “supports no alcohol”, and worse, “wants Arabic to be the world’s only language”.
How could I miss out on attending so unAustralian a gathering? I imagined lining up in a queue for air tickets to Syria and Islamic State passports.
Alas, this wasn’t to be. Instead the alcohol-phobic Arabic-supremacist sinister player invited me to sit up the front. Was this a ruse to have me beheaded? Or was he wearing a suicide vest? “Bruzzer, you like me. We both big. We need plenty room”. To think I wanted to be up the back, just like one of the old cynics from The Muppet Show.
Wahwah then proceeded to speak for some 50 minutes, in a very pronounced Jordanian accent. I’ve sat through many Friday sermons delivered by blokes with luxuriant Arab accents. If I was having some trouble understanding what Wahwah was saying, imagine how much trouble the real journos had.
“So there you have it. A one-hour rambling tour de force of political diatribe delivered to a mixed-gender crowd … followed by questions and discussion and finally some refreshments.”
But Wahwah was loud, boisterous, charismatic, animated and very entertaining. Here’s a summary:
1. Capitalism has failed the world. Capitalism has destroyed the good in the world. The people of this planet deserve something better. (Don’t get too excited, all you pot-smoking, basket-weaving ABC/Fairfax lefties out there. I don’t think he means socialism.)
2. Australian Federal Police tried to negotiate with him about the poster and promotional material for that evening’s lecture. The feds even objected to the full title (being “THE WAR TO END A BLESSED REVOLUTION: THE POLITICS AND PLOTS OF THE AMERICAN LED INTERVENTION IN IRAQ AND SYRIA”) using the phrase “blessed revolution”. “Why not take the word ‘blessed’ out?” they suggested. Wahwah refused and proceeded to lecture the feds on a raid in which they had removed the blanket from a woman early one morning while she was in bed. He said that every community had its sore points, and for Muslim communities, a woman’s honour was its sorest point. “We Muslims may be the weak ones, but we have strong memories.”
3. Wahwah said Muslims were perhaps the only group in the country who needed to watch the news every day just to follow what laws regulated them and their behaviour.
4. I found Wahwah’s analysis of the “clash” between “the West” and “the Muslims” strangely reminiscent of the Huntington thesis of clash of civilisations. He backed his claims up with quotes from Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Bush the Elder (the “New World Order” heralded by the removal of Saddam from Kuwait) and other material. It was more simplistic than sinister.
5. He was totally correct in saying that all justifications for war in Iraq 2003 onwards have been lies. The current invasion is also based on some ulterior motives.
6. Wahwah referred to former PM John Howard feeling good about saying that he was embarrassed for the 2003 Iraq War. It was as if Howard imagined his embarrassment would magically bring 650,000 dead Iraqis back to life.
7. For Muslims in Australia, speaking out against and exposing the lies of the war and the US plans for Iraq and Syria is far more important than picking up weapons and going to fight.
So there you have it. A one-hour rambling tour de force of political diatribe delivered to a mixed-gender crowd of 200 people followed by questions and discussion and finally some refreshments. What could be more unAustralian than this?