Hate and extremism in Australia’s universities
By Sharon Lapkin
There’s an old saying, “It’s not so much what is poured into the student, but what is planted that really counts”. And, at both the University of Melbourne and the University of New South Wales, on-campus Islamic Societies have been diligently planting seeds of ethnic hatred and intolerance into the minds of young Muslim students.
|Melbourne University Islamic Society: under investigation|
The Melbourne University Islamic Society (MUIS) runs and moderates an online Yahoo forum of 645 student members, and claims: “The purpose of this emailing group is to keep you informed and updated of the latest activities and other news from the Islamic Society in Melb Uni throughout the year.”
Sounds fair enough. But, for more than a full academic year, the society mugged new students with radical Islamist propaganda. Once inside the virtual ‘members’ door, MUIS posted material that blatantly distorted history and disseminated fraudulent facts — including content usually found on neo-Nazi websites. It actively fostered discrimination and hatred of Americans and Jews and professed that all Western governments are corrupt and must be opposed.
The society’s online ‘files’ section contained numerous files depicting MUIS’s perspective on different arenas of conflict around the world. A file entitled, “Palestine —pol aware sess.doc” contained “a transcript of a talk on the political reality of Palestine” and claimed:
The west has achieved many goals through their embrace of the Jewish state and planting it as a dagger in the heart of Muslim lands… They created an alien body between the Muslims in the region, which hinders their continuity and distances their unity.
The Society also informed its members that the West “got rid of the Jewish problems in their own country, because the Jews were distinguished for their undermining activities.”
For the past 12 months MUIS has posted a concocted quote in its Palestine news file that can usually be found on neo-Nazi websites such as “Jew-watch”. The quote, falsely attributed to Benjamin Franklin warns, “Jews suck blood” and “blackmail wealth.”
There is a great danger that threatens the United States of America, which is the threat of Jews. Wherever they settled down they degrade the ethical standard and decrease the standard of trading trust…They suck blood and blackmail wealth…I warn you gentlemen that if you did not drive away the Jews completely, then your children and grandchildren would curse you when you are in your graves.
MUIS was not singularly consumed with fostering hatred between Jews and young Muslims. It also advocated a disturbing antipathy towards the United States government and its citizens. It presented the terrorists and insurgents fighting both the US and Australia in Iraq as heroes and role models. “America,” boasts MUIS, “thought she had won the [Iraq] war and stabilised after demolishing the official regime. However, she was shocked by the heroic resistance to the occupation by the Muslims [sic].” And, the Society preached:
Thus, the disreputable civilisation of America and her despicable values appeared in their true nature; these civilisation [sic] and values, which they claimed would liberate Iraq and the entire region. American aggression against Iraq has exposed America in her true nature, as declined ideologically and intellectually, even militarily. Look at these few young believers … they rubbed America’s face in dust… The huge weapons, which America possesses, are used by fainthearted people who are not good for challenge or bravery. Had not America possessed this huge arsenal of weapons, cowardice of her people would have been exposed the same way her despicable civilisation and values were exposed.
The first lesson, according to MUIS, was “the obligation of not cooperating with the foreign disbeliever.” The second lesson, “not to have trust in the Agents of America,” and finally to remember, “Islam does not admit compromise.”
In one of the now deleted documents, MUIS stated, “Concession of any foot of Muslim lands to the authority of any disbelieving enemy is a great crime in the sight of Allah.” And while it listed Afghanistan, Chechnya, Cyprus, Iraq, Kashmir, Sudan and Palestine as Muslim lands, it appears the Muslim students on the Melbourne University campus must also learn to recognise the evil ways of their own host country. For according to MUIS-News, “Political mediums in non-Islamic countries are corrupt…they are Machiavellian in nature and method.” And, “Sovereignty”, it warns, “shouldn’t belong to the people.”
University of Melbourne student clubs and societies derive their monies from the Student Union. The University of Melbourne Islamic Society’s Yahoo group forum has been operating for five years and claims to “educate and promote awareness about Islam.”
On May 3, the University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor’s Office was advised of the discriminatory content contained in MUIS’s online forum —and it promptly advised the Student Union. Lowan Sist, CEO of the University’s Student Union, reviewed the material and agreed that the discriminatory content posted on the forum “could be linked” to a “Student Union affiliated group”. Sist further stated, “There are very precise regulations that govern affiliated groups” and added that the Student Union, “take this matter very seriously.” Indeed the University and the Student Union reacted immediately. By May 10, the offensive material had been completely removed from the MUIS online forum.
Shiraz-Ali Patel, Secretary of the Melbourne University Islamic Society wrote to AIR on May 12, and claimed the contents on the “MUIS-News forum does [did] not represent the express view of MUIS”. Patel argued that the forum was rarely moderated, because “undue restriction only serves to reinforce existing perceptions.” And those responsible for the material, he said had, “retracted the articles of concern on intellectual grounds, rather than pressure”.
Patel stated that the false quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin – which can usually be found on neo-Nazi websites – was “not intended to be the final word on the matter.” One can only wonder at which point MUIS had intended to articulate its “final word” on the subject. After all, it took 12 months and a number of external complaints for the Society to consider the authenticity of its original stated position on whether Jews actually “suck blood” and “blackmail wealth”. Unfortunately the Society did not explain why it considered authenticity to even be an issue, when the material itself was so ferociously offensive.
It is difficult to believe that a forum of more than 640 people was unable to produce at least one internal protest over the extremely bigoted documents posted prominently on the MUIS forum over a period of 12 months. And further, its proclamations ring rather hollow when clearly the offensive content would not have been removed at all, had it not been for external complaints to the Vice-Chancellor’s Office, the Student Union and the Islamic Society itself. Further, MUIS did not respond to AIR’s queries about the online forum until shortly after the Student Union itself demanded an explanation from the Society for what it believed was a serious breach of its own regulations.
The dissemination of radical Islamic propaganda is not limited to the University of Melbourne. Dr Zachariah Matthews, a long time Federation of Australian Muslim Students and Youth (FAMSY) member and leader gave a welcome speech to Muslim students at University of NSW (UNSW) earlier this year. He advised the young students to “guard themselves against the biggest temptations of campus life” and he drew an analogy where he painted Western university students as wolves and their fellow Muslim students as sheep.
The UNSW Islamic Society (ISOC) claims it “represents the Muslim students and staff of UNSW and serves its needs.” It is, it says, “a modern community that upholds the high moral and spiritual values of Islam”. In fact, the Society boasts that the University of NSW “has embraced ISOC”.
On its website, UNSW ISOC features six khutbahs (sermons) written by Waleed Kadous, the Vice President and Secretary of the Islamic Society of the University of NSW. Dr Kadous is also a main player in the Australian Muslim Civil Rights Advocacy Network (AMCRAN), where last year he vigorously opposed Australia’s new anti-terror laws. In “Developing an Islamic Mindset”, Kadous informs the student community that there are three “pillars of Western Society”: democracy, materialism and capitalism. All of these, he warns “are great lies.”
Kadous argues that democracy is not an appropriate method to govern a population and that religion must play a major role in any government.” In an Islamic state, people have input in the decision-making process, but they can’t change the laws.” And, he states, the Westerners “don’t tell you that the Nazi Party was the most popular party in the 1933 elections in Germany. They don’t tell you that this means something that used to be wrong can now become right.”
In the second khutbah on the UNSW ISOC website, Kadous lectures students on demonstrating their loyalty to Islam. “Look at other groups”, he claims:
At our enemies and those that would like to destroy us. Look how far they have come: whether it be Zionists, Gays and Lesbians or Secularists. They are not much larger than our own communities, yet look what they have achieved: widespread acceptance of their illegitimate activities in less than 20 years.
The common feature of Kadous’ khutbahs is the thesis that Western society is wrought with immorality and evil, and that Muslims “should always be ready to be called upon by Islam… to make a major sacrifice for Allah.”
Does Kadous represent the views of the UNSW ISOC? On one hand, as Secretary and Vice President of ISOC, he writes sermons for its student audience and publishes them on its website. But – on the other – the Society places a disclaimer on his controversial content by stating that it “does not endorse, support or guarantee the accuracy of the information, facts or opinions appearing in this section of the site.”
The fact is, it makes no sense that the society would provide a venue for Kadous to promote his views if it were not comfortable with his ideology. Perhaps this contradiction can best be described in the words of Kadous himself:
You don’t like what I am saying? Well, last month was your chance to get rid of me. You had elections, you could easily have engineered my removal.
Those Islamic student and community leaders involved in MUIS and UNSW ISOC are overtly promoting views that not only discriminate against Australian and overseas students but that promote an ethos of hostility to non-Muslims.
Political correctness should never dictate an ethos that tolerates historical distortions and fraudulent claims to justify ethnic and racial hatred. If our institutions of higher learning are to become infiltrated by sectarian groups that incite hatred and malice, then our Western education system risks degenerating into an arena of inter-ethnic conflict where racism and violence dominate the campus.
Sharon Lapkin is a Melbourne writer, and a postgraduate student at the University of Melbourne.
Hamas-Linked Camp in NSW
The Islamic charity, Human Appeal International (HAI), recently sponsored an Australian camp on “Muslim Youth Identity” run by the Federation of Australian Students and Youth (FAMSY – see our report on FAMSY in our April 2006 edition). Ironically, the Berry Sport & Recreation Centre – which hosted the FAMSY camp – is operated by the NSW State Government.
HAI is a UK-based charity that has been described as one of several organisations that “allegedly pose as charities in order to bankroll terrorist activities” by the Israeli organisation NGO Monitor. Israeli prosecutors reportedly named HAI as a source of funding to Hamas in an indictment last year against alleged Hamas bag man Ahmed Salatna (Independent, Nov. 25, 2005).
The charity lists its Australian office as 119 Haldon Street, Lakemba – the same address as the Lakemba Musullah (Prayer Hall). HAI is no stranger to FAMSY. The Australian Islamic Mission (AIM) and HAI have co-sponsored previous FAMSY events and AIM lists HAI on its website as “a charitable organisation.”
In testimony before a United States House Committee on “Fund-Raising Methods and Procedure for International Terrorist Organisations” in 2002, world expert on terrorism and national security, Steve Emerson stated: “In a report submitted by the FBI on November 5, 2001, Human Appeal International was described as being closely connected to Hamas.” And he further added, “Human Appeal International receive large amounts of funding from HLFRD [Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development].”
Within the same US House Committee testimony, Emerson stated that, “On December 4, 2001, the Holy Land Foundation’s assets were ordered frozen, and it was branded a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) Entity for funding the Hamas terrorist organisation.”
Earlier in the year, FAMSY enjoyed the sponsorship of another Islamic charity which, it has been claimed, funds terror groups. Its “Bright Start” Camp in January was sponsored by the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY). Reed Rubinstein, a Washington DC attorney who successfully defended Andrew Whitehead in a libel suit issued against him by the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) recently stated:
“At that time, and to this day, WAMY, and its leader Sheikh Saleh al-Sheikh, the Saudi Minister of Islamic affairs, have been linked to terror. Both Indian officials and the Philippine military have cited WAMY for funding terrorist groups and militant Islamists. Osama bin Laden’s brother was WAMY’s treasurer.”
FAMSY also lists CAIR on its website as a “Useful Resource”. In April 2004, Islamism expert Daniel Pipes reported on how a total of five “CAIR associate[s]” had been arrested “for terrorism-related activities.”