Thursday, November 02, 2006

Muslims being rallied for Al-Hilali

Muslims rally behind embattled leader, from the Sydney Morning Herald. There's a rally being pulled together, without any central organiser judging by the contradictory texts that have been flying about in regards to time and place, to show "solidarity". God I hate that word.

I'm a little scared that this could turn violent. I'm not the only one, as the SMH also reports. That said, there's a strong desire for a peaceful rally among many potential participants if is to be believed.

From the second SMH article:
He[Dr Jamal Rifi, a Muslim and critic of Al-Hilali] said the sheik's "lieutenants" had used the last few days while the sheik has been in hospital to bolster support for the cleric in Lakemba. "There are people out there in the street saying, 'This [backlash] is not against al Hilaly, this is against all Islam'," he said.

I can sort of see what's going to happen. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims are going to demonstrate their non-support of Al Hilaly by staying away from the rally. Meanwhile the small but dedicated extremist Muslims will demonstrate in support of Al Hilali as if the problem is with the media reporting of Al Hilali's comments rather than Al Hilali's comments, portraying it as an attack on Islam. The Australian media, ever eager for controversy, will have reporting with headlines like "Muslims demonstrate their support for Al Hilali". The Daily Telegraph in particular I expect to be particularly bombastic - let's see...."Muslims line up to support evil cleric" would be about the tenor I think. The Muslims who didn't rally who see these headlines will be angered by the headlines and believe that maybe Al-Hilali's supporters have a point and it really is about attacking Islam, with actual truth like the thousands of Muslims existing who don't support Al Hilali being overlooked in the anti-Islam hate campaign.

The real reasons for the "the muslims support Al-Hilali" rhetoric from media would be I expect because the radicals would be publicly repeating it to try and make as many people as possible believe it. The over-reaching statement of full Muslim support would become a self-fulfilling prophecy as moderates find that simply remaining silent is not enough to make the "muslims suppport Al-Hilali" headlines go away.

Note the different places where the quotation marks full in the last paragraph. It's a small but absolutely vital distinction, and one I expect many of Hilali's radical supporters to be trying to gloss over at every opportunity.

It's nice and convenient to divvy up a population into "nice moderates" and "nasty radicals" but the division isn't so clear-cut. Radicals can de-radicalise, moderates can be radicalised, and it's not like there's a clean and obvious distinction between moderation and radicalism. The main problem as I see it with the Islamic community is that the heavy-duty radicals are trying to radicalise as much of the Muslim population as they can, the more moderately-inclined Muslims are unaware of this, or else are grievously underestimating the extent to which it is occurring, and this unawareness is making it easier for the radicals to radicalise Muslims by misportraying any reaction to radicalism as unfounded in reality (since the moderately-inclined don't view the radical minority as the problem that the non-Muslim community does) and re-orienting in the not-so-moderately inclined Muslims the idea that the reaction to radicalism is a reaction to the very existence of the religion of Islam.

One thing I am thankful for so far is that no mainstream organisation has (yet) come out and said that Islam is inherently evil. I think that would be, um, very bad: just what the hard-core radical Islamic minority would want in order better to radicalise more of the Australian Islamic community.

No comments: