In view of the invitation to Pauline Hanson to join the panel, this week’s Q & A was predictably characterized by vilification and mockery of the Queensland Senator-elect. The other panellists included Sam Dastyari, Labor Senator for NSW; Larissa Waters, Queensland Greens Senator and Nick Xenophon, NXT Senator for South Australia.
Sam Dastyari was wildly applauded as he kept parroting to Pauline “it’s the politics of hate”. He pointed out that he was a Muslim who came here when he was 5 and would she have prevented 5 year old Sam from coming here? Despite the asinine nature of his comments, the audience was enraptured.
But the evening belonged to two Muslims, whose rather banal questions were obviously considered breathtakingly brave by the audience. .
The first, a hijabbed CINDY RAHAL, asked: Pauline Hanson:
“you have called for a Royal Commission into Islam to determine whether Islam is a religion or a political ideology. Can you please explain what constitutes a religion, and why Judaism and Christianity fall under the banner of “religions”, even though Islam, Judaism and Christianity all stem from the Abrahamic faith?”
This question could have been answered in one short sentence: Christianity and Judaism have separation of religion and politics, whereas Islam does not. However, that would have been boring; much better to excoriate Pauline for her ‘racism’, even though we all know that Islam is not a race. Many with knowledge of Islam would also debate the use of the word “Abrahamic”, which seems to have superceded the commonly used “Judaeo/Christian”, with the insinuation that we share the same values.
Nevertheless, the crowd was exultant, one even tweeting: “can we swap Pauline in the Senate for the questioner?”
Cindy was ecstatic after her debut and sent her thanks via facebook:
“THANK YOU to everyone who posted or inboxed messages of love and support after last nights episode of #qanda. It meant so much to Yusra and I, to see so much love injected back into the universe after that episode. I also want to thank brother Khaled who hit the nail on the head with his question and follow up comment.
It is, however, unfortunate that #Pauline had so much air time, thus increasing her exposure and providing her with a springboard to launch her agenda upon the Australian public.
Many people have messaged me asking me how I kept my cool. It was hard! (I am human after all), but I will not become a part of the narrative that depicts Muslims as irrational and unreasonable people.
Having said that, I honestly believe that many of her supporters take her ill-informed and non-factual information as the truth. All I can say is it comes down to ignorance.
It is up to everyone of us to stand up and deliver calm, and measured responses in the face of scrutiny. Be it in the media, at a shopping centre or around the water cooler at work.
I also believe that people are inherently good, not evil. And this was demonstrated by the overwhelming number of audience members that approached both Yusra and I to congratulate us on our bravery. When in fact, it was not bravery that made us attend Q and A, but sheer frustration at the anticipated exhaustion of having Pauline Hanson in parliament again.”
We know there’s zero courage involved in Muslims appearing on ‘our’ ABC, where they are assured of a rapturous welcome. Remember how last year a terror supporter asked a question in a Q & A programme and briefly became the hero de jour?
THE ABC has been told to “have a long, hard look at itself” and decide “whose side are you on” by a furious Tony Abbott after it invited a terrorist sympathiser on to its Q & A program.
The government also demanded the taxpayer-funded broadcaster work with the Australian Federal Police on future shows to ensure its audiences were not put in physical danger.
The ABC apologised for its “error in judgment” amid a public backlash for giving Zaky Mallah, the first man to be charged under the Howard government’s terror laws, a platform on live television.
Acquitted of terror charges in 2005, Mallah pleaded guilty to threatening to kill ASIO officials and has since travelled to Syria.
He had a heated exchange with MP Steven Ciobo on proposed laws to strip terrorists of their Australian citizenship on Q & A after Mr Ciobo said he would be comfortable blocking someone with Mallah’s past from living in Australia.
“As an Australian I would be happy to see you out of this country” which received widespread applause from the show’s live studio audience. “The Liberals have just justified to many Australian Muslims in the community tonight to leave and go to Syria and join ISIL because of ministers like him,”
he continued, before Q & A host Tony Jones intervened.
Mallah later tweeted:
“I would pay to see that Minister dumped on #ISIS territory in Iraq!”
ABC director of television Richard Finlayson admitted Mallah should never have been allowed to appear on the program.
“The Q & A program made an error in judgment in allowing Zaky Mallah to join the audience and ask a question,’’ he said.
Despite the admission from the ABC, Mallah said he stood by “everything I said” during the fiery exchange.
“It’s great that I’ve started a discussion. The so-called Islamic State would be extremely happy to hear what Steve Ciobo had to say on Q & A. It feeds into their recruitment propaganda,”
he wrote in a letter to The Guardian defending his appearance.
“Many are accusing me of supporting ISIS. For the record: I am not a supporter of ISIS.
“The point I was making on Q & A when I had my outburst, I make it proudly and would say it again. The Abbott government has no one to blame but themselves for the new recruits ISIS is attracting here in Australia.”
The Daily Telegraph understands Mallah applied to be on the program through the regular channels, but the show’s producers noted his name was on the audience list and were aware of his background.
Despite this, he was permitted to ask the panel a question regarding national security measures as the program was beamed into homes live across the country.
A flabbergasted Mr Abbott told a meeting of the Coalition party room that Q & A had become a “leftie lynch mob” before publicly condemning the ABC.
“What our national broadcaster has done is give a platform to a convicted criminal and terrorist sympathiser,’’
“They have given this disgraceful individual, a platform and in so doing, I believe the national broadcaster has badly let us down. I think many, many millions of Australians would feel betrayed by our national broadcaster right now, and I think that the ABC does have to have a long, hard look at itself.”
The Prime Minister was backed by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who told the ABC board it needed to consult with the AFP when assembling future Q & A audiences to assess any safety threats. He also phoned ABC chairman James Spigelman and managing director Mark Scott to express the government’s formal anger, saying the decision to allow Mallah airtime “beggars belief”.
“The idea that there was no physical security checked on that audience or that this man was allowed into it is extraordinary,”
Opposition leader Bill Shorten gave bipartisan support for the condemnation of the ABC, declaring there were no excuses allowing Mallah on the air.
“No one should be given a platform for these sorts of extremist views. I don’t care if you’re the ABC or anyone else,’’ Mr Shorten said.
Mr Ciobo said there was no excuse for giving Mallah airtime.
“Given his background, given the headspace the man occupied they could have foreseen to some extent what he was going to say,’’ he said. “This man is a sick individual. The man warrants ongoing close scrutiny.”
Well, I guess for the ABC to admit fallibility is quite something.
But back to this week’s Q & A, where the real star was Khaled Elomar, a Muslim man who lamented that because of Pauline Hanson, he was called a “Muslim Pig”.
Senator Hanson, my 11yr old son, who is watching this program right now, recently asked me “what is Islamophobia?”
Rather than explaining it to him with my own words, he and I sat side by side and watched a few of your past and current videos.
Then I asked him what do you think Islamophobia is? His response was “someone that hates us?”…. I said Islamophobia is one or a combination of the 3 things HATE, FEAR or IGNORANCE.
I promised him that I will ask you this question so he can hear your answer directly. So, with all due respect, what is the basis of your islamophobic feelings? Hate, Fear or Ignorance?
What the audience didn’t know was that on Facebook in November 2014 it was revealed:
‘Khaled Oula-Elomar shared ‘Campaign of Exposing Israeli Crimes’ via Social Media’s Post –
‘May Allah Curse The Jews Pigs: Oh God You Jews & That The Victory of Truth, The Religion of Islam’
Oops! I wonder how the audience would have reacted to this antisemitic comment– or maybe it’s acceptable to call Jews Pigs, but not Muslims. After all, for the ABC the biggest crime seems to be Islamophobia.