It’s been a bad week for the so-called “moderate voices of Islam” in Australia.
In recent years the ABC, SBS, Fairfax and Channel 10 have promoted Waleed Aly and Yassmin Abdel-Magied as celebrity Muslims, supposedly giving the public a soothing, reasoned understanding of their religion.
But yet again – this time following the release of the Hizb ut-Tahrir video justifying domestic violence – Aly and Abdel-Magied have been caught short.
Instead of calling for the reform of Islam (abandoning fundamentalist parts of the Koran) both have tried to depict the video as an aberration.
Last week they directed their audiences to an old YouTube video of Muslim clerics opposing domestic assault and advising women to seek help.
Neither Aly nor Abdel-Magied have criticised the teachings of the Koran or called for any recasting of its text.
This is the core problem with Islam in Australia.
While other religions relying on ancient Holy books have modernised their meaning to suit our open, pluralistic 21st century society, radical Muslims remained locked into a literal reading of the Koran.
This has given them a dated, fundamentalist view of society, particularly concerning women, gays and acts of terrorism.
The problem with the Hizb ut-Tahrir video was not the motivation or accuracy of the two women in it.
They simply offered a valid interpretation of the Holy book guiding their beliefs.
The problem is in the Koran itself.
At Verse 4:34, it teaches its followers that “men are in charge of women” and “good women are therefore obedient”.
For women who might disobey, it is recommended to “admonish them, leave them alone in their sleeping places and beat them”.
There’s not that much doubt as to what that means.
The Koran doubles up as a domestic violence instruction manual.
Last week’s video was not an aberration.
In a television interview in February, the prominent Islamic leader Keysar Trad outlined the steps Muslim men should take in dealing with domestic disputes.
First they should try relationship counseling.
Then perhaps, bringing home a bunch of flowers or a box of chocolates.
If these two steps fail then, according to Trad’s reading of the Koran, men should get physical in sorting things out.
Scores of Islamic clerics and TV stars can appear in staged video clips and say they feel sorry for the beaten women, but this doesn’t address the underlying issue.
The text upon which Muslims have based their religion is wrong.
It encourages intolerance and violence.
It’s incompatible with the values of modern Western society.
Abdel-Magied’s position is particularly interesting.
Two months ago, she gained notoriety by declaring on ABC TV that, “Islam is (the world’s) most feminist religion”.
Amid public dismay about the absurdity of her statement, Abdel-Magied had a Facebook exchange with Wassim Doureihi, a spokesperson for Hizb ut-Tahrir.
She told him, “I am young and willing to learn”, asking, “How can I do better in the future?”
Two months later, Hizb ut-Tahrir produced its pro-violence video.
If young Yassmin is learning from people like Doureihi, she has lost all credibility in the DV debate.
Even more worryingly, the Turnbull Government has promoted Abdel-Magied into several important public positions.
Last year, the Department of Foreign Affairs sponsored her on a tour of the Middle East, as a roving ambassador for Australian Islam.
She was also appointed to the board of Our Watch, a government agency created by Julia Gillard to stop domestic violence.
One would have thought Abdel-Magied’s position is now untenable, given the contents of the Hizb ut-Tahrir video.
Figure this out: Our Watch, funded by the taxpayer to stop domestic violence, has a board member who has publicly sought advice and instruction from a radical, pro-domestic violence Islamic outfit.
Yassmin is anything but moderate.
Sure, she’s young, brash and flamboyant, but her vivacious appearance shouldn’t be the basis by which politicians judge her views.
In promoting her Twitter account, for instance, Abdel-Magied claims to be replicating “the pinpoint accuracy and control” of Malcolm X, the 1960s US Black Muslim leader.
Malcolm X was not only an advocate of violence, as part of his “by any means necessary” doctrine.
He also believed in black supremacy, urging the racial separation of white and black America.
He depicted white people as “devils”.
Politically, this is as extreme as it gets.
At September’s Brisbane Writers’ Festival, Abdel-Magied advocated her own form of separatism, arguing that white novelists should not write about black people and white students should not study Indigenous affairs.
This is the new Left doctrine of “cultural appropriation”.
Just when we thought Malcolm Turnbull couldn’t be any more spineless in accommodating radical Leftists, his government has declared Abdel-Magied to be the Australian female face of moderate Islam.
This is dangerous stuff.
As the international scholar Ayaan Hirsi Ali has pointed out, Western nations have been incredibly naïve in their promotion of Islamic spokespeople.
They have picked out “moderates”, based on their flashy smile and glamorous style, only to find out later that extreme views are being propagated.
Most likely, Turnbull is so far to the Left he quite likes Abdel-Magied and her ideological inspiration, the other Malcolm (X).
As Waleed Aly told Fairfax’s Financial Review in a puff-piece profile on Thursday, we should reject the term “moderate Islam” because “it doesn’t mean anything”.
In Malcolm T’s Australia, that’s at least one thing we can all agree on.