It was a debate on what is happening in Australia with Aus muslims. This was, it seems, in answer to the whine that the other week's debate with PM John Howard didn't address enough muslims.
Read the whole transcript - it's enlightening. There are a few typos which cracked me up (sucker/succour in particular), but if you can get past those, it's worthwhile.
Kudos to Jenny Brockie, the chair of the debate, I guess you'd call her. I think she did really well, especially when it came to getting some of the clerics back on track. Or trying to, at least. She kept her cool while I was ranting at the teev at some of the comments.
A little something to whet your appetite for more:
JENNY BROCKIE: Okay Nasya, what about you, your from Melbourne, how do you feel about Sheik Omran speaking for Muslim Australians, or that being the impression that people out in the community have that he's somehow representing Muslim people?
NASYA BARFIN, LECTURER, DEAKIN UNIVERSITY: Unfortunately the people who are outside the community ... it's really difficult to understand how Byzantine and how complex views within the Muslim community are. And when you're looking at it through the prism of person A or person B, it's easy to take that view as representative of the whole community.
JENNY BROCKIE: Are you worried about views like that?
NASYA BARFIN: I'm more worried about how people will react to those views, both Muslims and non-Muslims.
JENNY BROCKIE: What do you mean by that, how they will react?
NASYA BARFIN: I'm worried about my mother walking down the street with nobody with her and getting attacked. I'm worried about people's reactions to those views in terms of what my little brother has to face in his classes. That's what I'm worried about.
JENNY BROCKIE: Aside from the discrimination, are you worried about those views at a more political level, at the level of somebody preaching that kind of thing?
NASYA BARFIN: I think perhaps you're underestimating the intelligence of the average Australian viewer. You've got to bear in mind the audience isn't a passive one.
JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, fair enough. Kuranda, yes?
Now that's what I call straight talking.
Or our good friend Sheikh Khalid Yasin (the bloke who reckons a muslim cannot have non-muslim friends):
JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, Sheik Yasin, you're a visiting lecturer from the United States, what do you think of Osama bin Laden?
SHEIK KHALID YASIN, US CLERIC: I think it is wrong for you and any one else to personalise this issue with Osama bin Laden, I am as a visiting lecturer to this country, I am a visitor to any other country and an American, I am enraged that people keep personalising this with individuals. I do not support the suicide bombers or genocide bombers, wholesale terror or retail terror, the terror of individuals or the terror of states. I think again I would like to reiterate what my constituent over here said, that you are personalising the issue and that is not the whole issue. It is not a baseball team.
JENNY BROCKIE: To be fair, I don't think I'm personalising the issue, I'm bouncing off what somebody else has said here.
SHEIK KHALID YASIN: I'm bouncing directly off you, you're coordinating this discussion.
JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, so you are saying that you don't ...
SHEIK KHALID YASIN: I've said for the record, my answer to what you've just said, and I don't think we should personalise the issue. We're living under a spectrum of terror and if you tear that spectrum in half and make a straight line there are two ends of it. We need to work about both ends, those who provoke it and those who react to the provocations.
To which, of course, we can all say.... huh?
God bless Sr Aziza for her words:
JENNY BROCKIE: Sr Aziza, I'm interested in what you have to say.
SR AZIZA ABDEL-HALIM, AM MUSLIM WOMEN’S NATIONAL NETWORK: Sheik Yasin with respect, this would give the wrong message to young people. I have a lot of Australian friends who share Islamic values with me, they're Australian values too, and when you look back to the way of the prophet and we know he was the living Koran and that we emulate him. He used to go and knock on the door of his Jewish neighbour if he didn’t see him for a few days, to find out if he was well and to see if he needed assistance. When Christian delegations came he invited him to meet about him in the mosque. When the time for prayer came he allowed them to pray in the mosque. Why are we then stressing extreme lies like marriage that is personal decision anyway.
SHEIK KHALID YASINI: I can answer her question?
SR AZIZA: We cannot promote an attitude like that among the young people.
SHEIK KHALID YASIN: The Koran forbids that I give my daughter to a Christian.
SR AZIZA: We're not talking about marriage we are talking about friendship.
SHEIK KHALID YASIN: I qualified what I meant by friendship.
JENNY BROCKIE: Sr Aziza when you hear those sorts of comment as an Australian Muslim how do you feel about the fact that's the representation?
SR AZIZA: I feel very upset because I feel that young people on both sides, Muslims and non-Muslims are getting the wrong message, they're getting the message we cannot be friend with you, we cannot share anything with you and that's not right.
JENNY BROCKIE: Clearly there's criticism of the media in this. Is there also criticism of the communities or members of the community the way they're portraying it?
SR AZIZA: Yes. A lot of women sometimes that I meet tell me "My daughter is a friend of an Australian girl. I can't let her be like that." I said, "Why. Australians believe in family values, believe in morals, believe in a lot of things. Just check the family and find out if they're on the same level as yourself."
There speaks a lady with real spirit.
Please go and read the transcript. It prints off at 13 pages, but it's worth it. I might even start watching SBS (television for Special People) again.