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Federal Opposition MP Teresa Gambaro’s promotion of deodorants for immigrants was tasteless and unfortunate because it distracted attention from the real issue with multiculturalism, that not all cultures are identical in regard to human rights.

Few would approve of the Hindu caste system or the mafioso sub-culture of Sicily being grafted on to the Australian way of life. However, both the caste system and the mafia are illegal in their countries of origin. My concern is with cultural aspects of Islam which are legal in Islamic countries and supported by Islamic scripture.

Waleed Aly — a lecturer at Melbourne’s Monash University and an indefatigable apologist for Islam — claims in a recent article (“Underarm stink also underhand”, Melbourne Age, January 13, 2012) that Gambaro’s recommendation on deodorants is proof of racism among Coalition MPs. He drags in irrelevancies such as the aboriginal Stolen Generation, while ignoring the camel with its nose under the tent.

Aly quotes South Australian Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi’s statement that “Islam itself is the problem … an ideology that is mired in 6th-century brutality”, but ignores facts which support such an opinion. Islam is not only a religion, it is a total political ideology which covers all aspects of life — food, banking, family law and the treatment of women. There can be no updated interpretations of Islamic scriptures because they are regarded as the unalterable words of Allah.

I agree with Senator Bernardi’s statement. While Waleed Aly’s childhood was idyllic, spent in Australia playing football, my childhood was in the fraught years of Partition in India when the subcontinent was divided into India and Pakistan because Muslims in the Muslim-majority provinces of India could not tolerate living in a secular, democratic country. The “religion of peace” has been at war with everyone since, including wars within Islam itself. There are daily reports not only of Muslims killing Christians but of Muslims killing each other, e.g., suicide-bombers in Iraq and in mosques and military installations in Pakistan.

It is the misogyny in Islam which alarms me most. Islam still approves of polygamy whereas other religious groups which once supported it, such as American Mormons, no longer tolerate it. The first legislative action in recently “liberated” Tunisia was to reinstate polygamy. That policy become a priority because of Islam.

Waleed Aly criticises federal New South Wales Liberal MP Bronwyn Bishop for objecting to headscarves. He claims that Muslim women feel “free” wearing headscarves — “free”, that is, if they are happy to give up playing sport at competitive levels or the pleasure of walking on a beach with the sea breeze blowing through their hair.

Many Islamic countries don’t have any women on their Olympic teams, and in Melbourne ratepayers have had to pay over $60,000 for a curtain at a swimming pool to hide Muslim women. It might have been cheaper to provide blinkers for Muslim men who feel aroused at the sight of female swimmers.…

The headscarves Bronwyn Bishop objects to are a symbol of the oppression of women. I know this well because at my convent school in India the Muslim friends with whom I happily played hop-scotch vanished into purdah when they neared puberty, unable to complete their education and often married off to elderly men they didn’t know. The life of the Prophet of Islam no doubt set a precedent.

I recently read a report which claims that last year there were 3,000 “honour attacks” in Britain, that is, assaults on young women who defied their fathers’ injunctions about lifestyle or who refused arranged marriages (Daily Mail, UK, December 3, 2011). Sentences of death are routinely imposed on Muslims who leave Islam and convert to another religion. Islamic scriptures state that Christians and Jews should live as second-class citizens (dhimmies) while paying extra taxes. A Muslim cleric in India is trying to revive the fatwa death sentence imposed on author Salman Rushdie.

In the same week that Australian diplomats pleaded with Saudi Arabia (custodian of the holy places of Islam) not to lash an Australian citizen 500 times, Waleed Aly is preoccupied with Teresa’s Gambaro’s deodorant problem.

The Saudi government has gone so far as to claim that if their women were allowed to drive, there would be no more virgins. As these women are unlikely to be raped by their cars, would it not be more just for the Saudi government to attempt to control the (unbridled?) lusts of their men rather than deny women the right to drive?

Western governments should not collaborate in obscuring the motivation for Islamist violence. In November 2009, under the Obama Administration, murderer Major Nidal Hasan yelled “Allahu Akbar!” (“Allah is greatest!) while shooting US soldiers at the Fort Hood army base in Texas. However, he is only deemed to have committed “workplace violence”, while pro-lifer activists praying outside abortion clinics can be classified as “domestic terrorists”.

The vast majority of Muslims are kind and hospitable and do not support violence. However, many are deprived by their societies of educational opportunities and, because Islam does not support integration into other societies or allow social mixing of the sexes, young men in particular are easy prey for ambitious clerics and extreme jihadists.

Babette Francis was born in India and experienced life in Muslim-majority provinces in the country before the 1947 partition of the sub-continent into India and Pakistan.



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