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Note to Muslims living in Australia: it’s time to put the stealth back into #stealthjihad. We’re in the middle of a covert operation to bring about the fall of Western civilisation. If you’re going to engage in regular bullshit and pratfalls, at least try to keep it off Facebook and national television.

“’Like a script from a mafia movie’ — Peak Muslim body AFIC descends into turmoil” reported The Sydney Morning Herald on Monday, drawing its headline and much of its assessment from Muslim Facebook discussions. Actually, the situation described in Rachel Olding’s report sounds more like a farce than a mafia movie, as a small group of middle-aged men struggle for control of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils. Last year, the leadership committee of AFIC was forced to stand down after federal funding was withdrawn from its schools in response to court findings that money had been improperly channeled to AFIC.

Keysar Trad, who first rose to prominence as the translator for former mufti Sheikh Taj el-Din al-Hilali and later became better known for his campaign to legalise polygamy, was elected unopposed as AFIC president, basically as the last man standing in this particular. However, last week the former committee hired a locksmith to get into the organisation’s headquarters, from where they have been issuing Trump-style executive orders taking back control of the schools, as well as both collecting and spending halal certification fees. The faction led by Keysar Trad has taken the coup leaders to court.

[Now we know, racists may well represent the ‘silent majority’]

Apart from being cringingly embarrassing, this spectacle has left Muslims living in Australia devoid of official leadership at a moment when it has never been more needed. As Supreme Court Justice Robert McDougall noted when hearing the case: “It seems to me that there are far more important things that AFIC can be focusing on, one of which is the rise, fuelled by populist politics and government policies, of anti-Muslim sentiment in this country.”

You would think that Trad might have far more important things to do than appear on The Bolt Report, too, but as his obsessive campaign for the legal recognition of polygamy illustrates, setting appropriate priorities has never been Trad’s strong point. The interview went about as well as could be expected, with Bolt reading out a (contested) translation of a verse from the Koran that some scholars have translated as granting men permission to lightly beat their wives and Trad responding that beating one’s wife was permissible as a last resort if counselling and gifts of flowers and chocolates had failed to do the job. Neither Bolt nor Trad have anything useful to contribute to either theological debates or feminist discourse, but both of them provide plenty of fodder for headlines. And plenty of fodder, too, for the usual line-up of right-wing politicians and commentators ranging from Tony Abbott to Peter Dutton who suddenly discover their inner feminist whenever a Muslim man makes an offensive remark against women. These racist opportunists disguised as knights in shining armour damage the work of Muslim women who have campaigned for years against misogynist Muslim men like Trad.

[How media terrorism speculation nearly hijacked Friday’s attack]

Muslim women like Joumanah el Matrah have done a good job of responding to the onslaught of hate that has been directed as young Sudanese-Australian engineer and writer Yassmin Abdel-Magied for over a week now. The aftermath to Abdel-Magied’s confrontation with Senator Jacqui Lambie on last week’s Q&A illustrates that if there is anything more threatening than an angry young Muslim man, it is an articulate, well-presented young Muslim woman. The uproar against Q&A’s decision to allow Zaky Mallah to pose a question from the audience was cynical and opportunist, but at least it made some kind of sense. Mallah had pleaded guilty to threatening Commonwealth officials, after all.

The vitriol against a high-achiving woman like Abdel-Magied that has been spewed out in op-eds, petitions, and of course the obligatory offensive Bill Leak cartoon seems entirely deranged, but it makes sense according to the logic of anti-Muslim racism. An articulate young woman in a headscarf who self-identifies as feminist is the embodiment of #creepingsharia. She normalises the presence of Muslims in public life and lures non-Muslims into accepting the change that she represents. No matter how high his profile, Zaky Mallah is permanently confined to the margins. Abdel-Magied, on the other hand, is a mainstream success and role model to young women of all background. No wonder The Australian felt compelled to insinuate that her DFAT-funded trip to the Middle East was a taxpayer-funded plug for her book rather than a PR exercise on behalf of the Australian government and to present her as a terrorist sympathiser on the basis of a polite Facebook exchange with a Hizb ut-Tahrir leader.

Trad has now apologised for any offence caused by his “clumsy words” — a routine for which he got plenty of practice during his years and a translator and spokesman for former mufti Sheikh Hilali (he of the notorious “uncovered meat” sermon). But too late, too late. Time to resign, Keysar — and time for the rest of the community to take our undercover operation to conquer Australia back undercover. With all these embarrassing spectacles playing out in public, it’s starting to look as though we have nothing left to hide.

Peter Fray

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