A weekend of “sun, surf and racialist musical mayhem” was how the promoters of the “Hammered Music Festival” advertised an April get-together on Queensland’s Gold Coast.
The local newspaper reported that as the weekend commenced, “a group of about 30 skinheads turned up at a suburban restaurant… Some of the heavily tattooed and shaven-headed men displayed swastikas. Others were wearing t-shirts with the slogan ‘Blood and Honour'”.
While many Gold Coast residents (and others) found the gathering objectionable, reliable reports are that the small group of life’s losers who came together to mythologise their self-designated racial superiority spoke only to and amongst themselves.
In such gatherings, it must be difficult to maintain the self-delusion that they offer anything innovative, positive or even worthwhile, or that the global neo-Nazi movement has any serious momentum.
Nevertheless, such groups should never be given the opportunity to develop traction, and it was encouraging to see reports the police monitored the event and a number of prominent local figures dissociated their region from the racists.
The Gold Coast residents’ response to the activities of neo-Nazi ratbags can be contrasted with the welcome provided to a lecturer who spoke at a variety of venues in March.
A number of Australian groups hosted a man who is on the public record saying:
- Jews are “filth”;
- AIDS is caused by the “filthy practices” of homosexuals;
- It is incumbent on his followers “to take a stand [against homosexuals] and it’s not enough to call names.”
The speaker, Sheikh Abdullah Hakim Quick, according to prominent UK activist Peter Tatchell, also says “homosexuals should be executed”.
This fanatic and purveyor of extremism was hosted in Australia by groups including the Islamic Da’wah Centre of Australia at both the Lakemba Mosque and Bankstown Town Hall and the Islamic Information and Services Network of Australia, which ran events at venues including the University of Melbourne.
Apparently an inspirational figure for these groups, it is significant that the largest Muslim youth organisation in Sweden, Sweden’s Young Muslims (SUM), rejected Quick as a speaker for their 2010 annual conference, saying their organisation was “against and opposes all forms of hate propaganda, racism and discrimination” and association with Quick led to the “regrettable” contrary perception.
Quick’s Australian visit received almost no public attention and his hosts escaped the criticism and condemnation they merited. By contrast, the revelation that the al-Qaeda recruiter described as “the no. 1 terrorist threat to the United States” had delivered an address by phone-link to an audience in the Lakemba Mosque was given the front-page treatment it deserved.
Around the time Anwar al-Awlaki was speaking to a Sydney congregation he was making a transformation from an extremist religious propagandist to a recruiter and trainer for al-Qaeda, with the men charged with the massacre at Fort Hood and the attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound aeroplane last December amongst his acolytes.
Commonwealth Attorney-General Robert McClelland expressed his concern at the lecture, commenting, “Community leaders need to ensure they are doing all they can do to stop our young people being exposed to these type of speakers.”
Al-Awlaki’s views, if not his actions, were already a matter of public knowledge when he spoke to Muslim Australians, and it is no surprise that the Lebanese Muslim Association has been reluctant to speak with the media regarding the content of the speech, why it took place and which individuals were responsible for facilitating it.
While the recent statement from the LMA that “procedures have been put in place which will ensure that an incident of this nature will not take place” and other condemnations of the incident are welcome, the fact remains that a person like al-Awlaki has promoters, supporters and audiences in Australia.
It is counterproductive to ignore the racism of the Hammerskins, the bigotry of Sheikh Quick’s hosts or the dangers of al-Awlaki’s terrorist encouragement and recruitment. They are all threats to Australian society which need to be countered firmly and unambiguously.