A very thin-skinned and defensive Scott Morrison tried to convince us on Thursday night that he has a wonderful record of supporting the Muslim community and any suggestion to the contrary is an outrageous slur.
“Over the last decade, I have spent my time as a public figure working with the Muslim community in south-western New South Wales,” he said. “That’s why I’m welcomed when I attend mosques in south-western Sydney, with warm embraces.”
On Saturday he took the cameras along for a photo shoot with Muslim leaders at Lakemba mosque, pretending all was sweetness and light as they hugged each other.
What he failed to mention was what was said in the meeting.
“The tragedy in New Zealand yesterday – it wasn’t something overnight, it’s been something that’s been a build-up over the last few years because of the incitement of hatred, bigotry, and discrimination against groups like the Islamic community,” Dr Ibrahim Mohammed told Morrison.
“We need to look into the causation of what makes such a tragedy that took place yesterday and it all comes down to the hate speech… that takes place.”
Lebanese Muslim Association Director Ahmad Malas said “The group raised several concerns, grievances with the position that senior members of government have taken on immigration, previous incidents such as the Bourke St attack, and political rhetoric about Muslims being detrimental. Also, a review of the laws to prevent religious discrimination and vilification of Muslims, and the need for the Government to take responsibility at stamping out the ideology of white supremacy and do more to address Islamophobia.”
On Monday, five highly qualified articulate Muslim women appeared on the Drum and were in total agreement about the damage being done by some politicians and media in stoking Islamophobia.
When Zaky Mallah warned that young Muslims in Australia felt vilified by a government “looking for votes” and that “ASIO and counter-terrorism police” benefit from community relations, all hell broke loose, with Tony Abbott saying that “heads should roll” (really Tony?) at the ABC for giving Mallah a platform.
We are bombarded with stories about cultural practices from other parts of the world that we find abhorrent, seemingly ignoring the fact that those practices are illegal here. People who choose to live in this country agree to abide by our laws.
Morrison righteously intones that an attack on people of faith is an attack on all faiths, yet several members of his party, including his Deputy Josh Frydenberg, former PM Tony Abbott, and the very ambitious Andrew Hastie, have all said the problem stems from Islam itself.
It must be utterly galling for the Muslim community to hear Morrison spruiking his credentials at promoting harmony (the third finger in his election slogan – “keeping our economy strong, keeping Australians safe and keeping Australians together.”)
Where is the collective culpability for encouraging an atmosphere of suspicion and mistrust where raids on suspects’ houses are televised before they have even been charged with anything?
Where is the admission that collectively blaming all Muslims for the acts of a few has promoted fear and hatred?
Where is the acceptance that conflating asylum seekers with criminals is dogwhistling?
Wasn’t me, says Scott. They love me. I even went on a walk with some Muslim boys once.
Scott says he has led by example and that he has set the tone.
The tragedy is that he is right about that – and look at what has happened.