An embarrassed Kevin Rudd has been forced to apologise to Muslim delegates at this month’s 2020 Summit because their religious dietary needs were ignored by caterers who could not tell the difference between halal and vegetarian food.
In the absence of halal food – prepared in accordance to sharia dietary laws – the Islamic delegates were forced to eat “salad sandwiches and vegetarian pies”.
This was the Rudd Government’s second major summit-related gaffe involving a religious minority after the Prime Minister was forced to apologise to Jewish community leaders for holding the talkfest during the Passover.
Mr Rudd’s apology to Muslim delegates follows revelations by The Australian last month that the federal Government was considering setting up a Muslim advisory body – which would include sporting figures and academics – to help dismantle the stereotypical and overly religious image of Islam in Australia.
Prominent Muslim leader Fadi Rahman, who attended the two-day conference a fortnight ago, yesterday attacked summit organisers for failing to make halal food available for Islamic delegates.
He said the event’s catering manager could not distinguish between halal food – where animals, excluding pigs, are killed under religious supervision for hygienic and humanitarian reasons – and vegetarian food.
“They just thought to themselves vegetarian will do, that’s halal and that’s it, eat it,” he said. “But we said, ‘No, vegetarian is not halal. Vegetarian is vegetarian. Halal food is totally different, shouldn’t you guys have done your homework?’
“We were thinking to ourselves, ‘What the hell is going on? If they can’t get the halal food right, what the hell can they get right?”‘
Mr Rahman said Mr Rudd approached him and Queensland Muslim leader Mohamad Abdalla – who has been caught up in the scandal over Saudi funding for Griffith University – and apologised to the pair about the glitch, blaming the caterers for getting it wrong.
“We were sitting in our groups and he walked past and said, ‘Look I heard about the halal food, I’m terribly sorry, it’s to do with the catering company’. And we thought it was a nice gesture for him to apologise.”
Malaysian Muslim groups have called for protests when Chelsea football club visits in July because the coach, Avram Grant, and a player are Israeli.
An alliance of 21 Muslim groups is angry the Malaysian authorities have given permission for the Israelis to visit the country with the London club.
Malaysia has no diplomatic relations with Israel, and the Malay Muslim majority is strongly pro-Palestinian.
Malaysian citizens are banned by their government from visiting Israel.
The Associated Press reports that the National Counterterrorism Center in the United States has published guidance on using terms when talking about terrorism.
The last one is probably the best piece of advice:
Don’t use “salafi,” “Wahhabist,” “sufi,” “ummah” and other words from Islamic theology unless you are able to discuss their varied meanings. Particularly avoid using “ummah” to mean the Muslim world, as it is a theological term.
Does anyone know if the Kuwaiti businessmen funding the Quilliam Foundation are supporting any similar moves to promote pluralism and combat Islamism in Kuwait?
Or is this an absurd question?
The United Kingdom came in for robust questioning on its human rights record from other UN member states last week at the Human Rights Council, during the historic first session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). Over the course of three hours, 38 countries took the floor to ask UK Justice Minister Michael Wills about a wide range of issues, including racial discrimination, corporal punishment against children, abuses committed by UK armed forces abroad, and failure to ratify particular UN conventions and their protocols.
Coming at a time when the UK government is trying to pass yet another piece of counterterrorism legislation, which includes extending pre-charge detention to 42 days, it’s no wonder a significant number of countries asked about UK counterterrorism policies. Neighbors such as The Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland expressed concern about 42 day detention, but so did countries like Syria and Algeria. Algeria’s representative pointed out that the Human Rights Committee – the UN body that monitors compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – had recently “upbraided” Algeria for allowing up to twelve days of pre-charge detention.
More than 1,000 Indonesian Muslims gathered in front of the presidential palace on Sunday to press the government to ban a Muslim sect that has been branded heretical by most Muslims.
An Indonesian government team is drafting a decree that will ban the Ahmadiyya sect, which views itself as Muslim but has been branded a heretical group by the Indonesian Ulema Council, the secular country’s highest Muslim authority.
Chanting “Allahu Akbar (God is Great)” and “Disband Ahmadiyya”, the members of the Indonesian Muslim Forum (FUI), a group of about 50 Muslim organisations, urged President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to issue the decree.
“We are pushing the president to immediately issue a presidential decree disbanding Ahmadiyya,” FUI Secretary General Muhammad Al Khaththath told Reuters.
The FUI also asked the government to capture Ahmadiyya’s leaders and seize all its assets.
The embrace of former extremists is a slap in the face for Muslims who have worked tirelessly to build a British Muslim identity and foster inclusion by constructive community activity. It’s another attempt at the marginalisation of the overwhelming majority who never had a moment’s doubt that Islam gives no sanction for such murderous and misguided perversion of belief.
I am troubled by the fact that former extremists are seen as the only people who know how to deal with extremism. Just because you have been an inmate of a mental hospital does not mean you are an expert in clinical psychology. But former extremists are being lionised because they confirm the basic tabloid prejudice that violence is a natural part of being a Muslim. So whose ignorance is being vindicated? Certainly the potential of an open, unapologetic belief in Islam as a valuable part of British society is not on the agenda.
At every stage of dealing with extremism, the government has made the wrong choice. First, only British-trained imams were to be promoted, though how and what they were trained in was not examined. Then there were to be roadshows at which religious scholars selected for their moderation and tractability, rather than an understanding of the problems of young British Muslims, would explain the error of extremist ways. Then Sufism was touted as the solution, and the Sufi Muslim Council was created as the voice of moderation. Now the way forward is with sinners who were once mouthpieces for jihadi propaganda and advocated the violent rejection of all things western.