Plain Talking Jane

Monday, February 13, 2006

Wanted: A Few Good Men to Fight Islamo Fascism

In the wake of the cartoon fiasco some Muslims are calling for greater legal protection for their religious feelings. The West doesn’t seem prepared to apply existing laws to protect peoples safety so why invent new laws to protect peoples feelings?

Most Australians consider freedom of speech, freedom of religion and equality before the law as our basic democratic principles. But how do these principles balance out in relation to a statement like this one published in a book purchased at a major bookstore? ‘When the sacred months are over slay the idolators wherever you find them.’ Like most Australians I am an idolator and I find calls to murder me absolutely offensive.

Most would accept this statement is a literal incitement to murder. Under the New South Wales Crimes Act, Sect 249F, ‘A person who aids, abets, counsels, procures, solicits or incites the commission of an offence…is guilty of an offence…’ Under Sect 2A of the Victorian Crimes Act ‘…incite includes command, request, propose, advise, encourage or authorize…’ Sect 321G states that ‘…where a person …incites any other person to pursue a course of conduct which will involve the commission of an offence…the inciter is guilty…of incitement.’ At the very least the quoted statement counsels and therefore incites murder.

Incitement laws restrict freedom of speech, but the context of this statement is religious and the Australian Constitution guarantees freedom of religious observance. Sect 116 states that ‘The Commonwealth shall not make any law …prohibiting the free exercise of religion...’. As with freedom of speech the ‘free exercise’ of religious observance is also limited. Its limits were established in the High Court in 1943 in the Adelaide Company of Jehovah’s Witnesses vs The Commonwealth case. The Court found that ‘Freedom of religion is not absolute. It is subject to powers and restrictions of government essential to the preservation of the community. Freedom of religion may not be invoked to cloak and dissemble subversive opinions or practices and operations dangerous to the common weal.’ and that religion was ‘subject to limitations…such as are reasonably necessary for the protection of the community and in the interests of social order’. Freedom of religion is not freedom to commit crime.

Additionally Victoria introduced the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 to specifically deal with religious vilification. Sect 25 says: ‘A person…must not, on the ground of the religious belief or activity of another person or class of persons, intentionally engage in conduct that the offender knows is likely …to incite threaten, or incite others to threaten physical harm towards that person or class of persons…’

If the call to slay idolators was made in an obscure religious text of a tiny sect it might not be a big deal. The facts are that this statement is made on p133 of The Koran revised and published by Penguin in 2003. It was purchased at Dymocks, one of Australia’s leading bookstores. We know that a number of people around the world, including in Australia, take this direction literally and are likely to carry out its command including: that ‘fighting is obligatory for you…’ p.32; ‘Believers, make war on the infidels who dwell around you. Deal firmly with them.’ p.146; and ‘slay or crucify opponents in war’ p.83.

Some, currently before Australian courts allegedly quoted the Koran to incite Australians to allegedly participate in intended crimes. In the UK Abu Hamza was recently convicted of incitement after his defence failed. He argued that his incitement to kill infidels was based on the obligatory teachings of the Koran. No publisher in the current environment can credibly argue that murder is not a foreseeable outcome of publishing the Koran. Consequently Australian victims of terror should mount a class action against the publishers of the Koran on the grounds that they knowingly published material likely to lead to murder.

So freedom of speech and religion are limited by other laws including incitement. But how does this balance with the democratic principle of equality before the law? Take this simple test: could you publish a direction to kill Muslims wherever you find them? I doubt anyone in Australia would publish such a direction and if they did you and the publisher would be promptly, and quite properly, prosecuted. Last year two Victorian Pastors were charged for frivolous ‘offences’ under Victoria’s religious vilification law but to date no one has been similarly charged or even investigated for publishing the Surah inciting murder, hate and violence.

The failure to apply the law is emboldening some Muslims to commit extreme vilification of other religions including violent assault and a drive by shooting of a Christian primary school’s Christmas Carols ceremony and arson attacks on churches in Sydney in December that left one destroyed. I doubt anyone will be charged for these crimes due to the extremely limited media coverage of these post Cronulla hate crimes and the consequent lack of public outrage. As a result the majority loses confidence in the protection of the police, the administration of law and consequently their equality before the law.

This feeds a growing belief that there is one law for Muslims and another for everyone else. This view provides fertile ground for vigilantism and the grievance based crime that occurred in Cronulla. People who lose faith in the law are more likely to take it into their own hands making it critically important to reinforce the assumption of equality before the law.

The examples I cited from the Koran are a prima-facie breach of the NSW and Victorian criminal code and Victoria’s Religious Vilification Laws. The Koran includes other examples of vilification and incitement on the grounds of gender, sexuality, race and religion. There is no comparable incitement through direct instruction in any other major religious text.

Who wants to use their real name, make a complaint and go to court to be idendified by criminals that the Police are scared of? Islamic intimidation is supported by the Government's treatment of the Pastors’ prosecution, death ‘fatwas’ issued worldwide against Islam’s critics and set against a backdrop of anti Australian rape, organised violence and Police inaction.

Premiers Iemma and Bracks need to demonstrate whether they believe in equality or condone discrimination. They must dispel the widely held view that Muslims are favoured before the law in NSW and Victoria. The test for their governments is not to make new laws but rather to equally apply existing ones. A good starting point is to refer publishers of the Koran to the DPP for breaching their respective State’s criminal laws. We don’t need censorship to protect religious sensibilities but we do need the law to protect community safety. It is simply not legal to publish a call for the murder of anyone in contemporary Australia.


Anonymous Platey Mates said...

Greatr Post Jane. We need more rational debate and less hysteria.

9:50 PM  
Anonymous gravelrash said...

Well done 'Jane'. I have been looking for people willing to take the fight to Islam via these sort of actions. Consider me "signed up".
Anything I can do?????

8:32 AM  

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