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An ignorant Australian?

By Irfan Yusuf - posted Wednesday, 22 February 2006

Its advertisements pose the question: “Are you an informed Australian?” But if you believe what has been written in The Australian on February 20, 2006 about Muslim migrants, you will probably end up a bigoted, or at best ignorant, Australian.

The Australian newspaper has painted a picture of a Muslim culture hostile to mainstream Australia, with extreme attitudes toward women, powered by a sense of “jihad” and unable to adapt to the Australian mainstream.

In the past, The Australian has published numerous opinion pieces supporting or suggesting such a view. The authors have pointed to the alleged inability of Muslim migrants to adapt to Australian conditions. Alternatively, they have used Muslims as a scapegoat in an attempt to impose their own cultural monolith on Australia’s multicultural status quo.


When parliamentarians have made (and then withdrawn) infantile allegations against Muslim migrants (such as the recent embarrassment with Danna Vale’s contribution to the RU486 debate), The Australian has supported them, "gracing" its op-ed pages with an article by Muslim-hater Mark Steyn.

Last Monday The Australian published excerpts from an interview with the Prime Minister. They were originally meant to be published on or about March 11, 2006 to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the Howard Government, but for some reason the paper brought this date forward.

Mr Howard has made some recent remarks on what he views as unfortunate traits limited to a small minority from within Muslim communities. Some of Mr Howard’s remarks are correct, while others are perhaps reflective of popularly-held misconceptions.

I don't intend to focus on what Mr Howard said, but rather on the editorial baggage which The Australian has tried to attach to Mr Howard’s comments.

Mr Howard’s words were about a minority, but The Australian generalises these traits into characteristics of what it describes as “Muslim culture”.

In an article entitled “Howard hits out at ‘jihad’ Muslims”, George Megalogenis has the PM “strongly criticis[ing] aspects of Muslim culture, warning they pose an unprecedented challenge for Australia's immigration program”.


The paper went on to report that “[t]he Prime Minister also expressed concern about Muslim attitudes to women”.

So we have “Muslim culture” and “Muslim attitudes”. The suggestion is that there exists an homogenous Muslim culture, that it is a migrant culture, and that it has implications for Australia’s immigration program.

And what evidence has been presented of an homogenous Muslim culture? Who knows? Perhaps more importantly, who cares?

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First published in Mediah Mullah on February 20, 2006.

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About the Author

Irfan Yusuf is a New South Wales-based lawyer with a practice focusing on workplace relations and commercial dispute resolution. Irfan is also a regular media commentator on a variety of social, political, human rights, media and cultural issues. Irfan Yusuf's book, Once Were Radicals: My Years As A Teenage Islamo-Fascist, was published in May 2009 by Allen & Unwin.

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