Lost in translation


Yesterday, the Grand Mufti of Australia called for “proper communication” and “proper dialogue” between members of the Muslim community, authorities and broader Australia.

Following his press conference, the Grand Mufti drew criticism over several matters. The key criticisms included his call for “proper communication”, which he said in Arabic, and spoke to the Australian public through an interpreter. The Grand Mufti unfortunately did not specify what “proper communication” looks like, so what he actual means remains a mystery. Furthermore, why this issue of prime importance to emphasise after a Muslim, clearly and primarily motivated by Islam, attacked the New South Wales Police headquarters?

The second issue is that the Grand Mufti failed to condemn the actions of the teenage terrorist who attacked the Police headquarters and took the life of Curtis Cheng last week. This is quite a serious omission. The Australian public understandably continues to ask for greater re-assurance and stronger condemnation of terrorism and the actions of terrorists, yet this is rarely forthcoming from Islamic leaders.

What we are used to getting are rather vague denouncements of ‘extremism’ (like we did yesterday), yet in the mind of many Muslims, there is no such think as ‘moderate’ or ‘extreme’ Islam. There is simply Islam, and its followers adhere to it to a greater or lesser extent. The idea of ‘moderate’ and ‘extreme’ Islam is a creation of the West, and only exists in the mind of western politicians, the media and others.

What we need from leaders like the Grand Mufti are concrete, rather than the usual vague statements we get. We need to hear from the Grand Mufti that he rejects Sharia law and any attempt to introduce it into Australia. We need the Grand Mufti to condemn the Jihad which is currently being waged on Christians and the West. We need the Grand Mufti to express sadness, regret and a spirit of repentance, in the way that many Christian leaders have previously done, in relation to the past sins that have been committed in the name Islam, and perpetrated against the rest of the world. And we need to hear the Grand Mufti affirm religion as a matter of conscience, and state that Muslims are free to leave Islam without any reprisal or retaliation, should they choose.

Then we may be able to establish a level of trust and common ground required in order to have “proper communication.”