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So many Muslim apologists, so little time

By Middle EastOctober, 2010December 12th, 20233 min read

An interesting contrast between two cases of Muslim apologism appears in my favourite newspaper The Age this weekend (hey, if I gave up my subscription, what would I write about?).

The first is from Julie Szego, who writes a disturbing essay on the bikini bans at public pools. In Australia, I hear you ask? Yes, VCAT recently approved an exemption to the Equal Opportunity Act to compel “participants aged 10 and over … to ensure their bodies are covered from waist to knee …” during a community event to be held next year during the month of Ramadan. And this is in Dandenong, not Dubai!

The City of Darebin’s acting mayor, Gaetano Greco, said that ‘ … women attending should be respectful of Islamic beliefs.” Are any local council mayors calling on Moslems to be respectful of Australian values and beliefs? In particular, the separation of Church and State which is such a fundamental principle in modern Western society?

Szego argues that a line has been crossed, and she’s right.

On the other hand, Jason Koutsoukis writes a piece about bootleg winemakers in Gaza, ruled by the repressive Islamist Hamas, and where “alcohol is considered worse than hashish”. Rather than spending big to buy wine on the black market, these folks do it themselves. However, it’s very cloak and dagger – just buying 20 Kg of grapes could easily result in a visit from the secret police. Fortunately, there aren’t issues with brewers’ yeast, as it is also used for cheese.

But instead of an investigative report showing how Hamas is doing their best to take life back to the middle ages for the residents of Gaza, Koutsoukis presents this as a puff piece under the heading of “Postcard from Gaza”. He touches on the idealogical struggle within Hamas between the “moderate” Erdoganis and the “more extreme” Talibanis, who set fire to a social club because there was too much fraternisation between men and women (and we all know that can lead to dancing). But overall, the article reeks of a naive fascination with people who are risking their lives just to enjoy some wine, rather than a bitter indictment of a totalitarian regime.

I guess Koutsoukis knows full well that if he is overly critical of Hamas, the secret police may deal with him in the same way they deal with all those recalcitrant winemakers, social club operators, and other “rebels”.

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