2. The US Ambassdor to Australia, Jeffrey Bleich, claims that his ‘homeland’ has been unfairly targeted by ‘Muslim extremism’ in the wake of the film. Australian officials too have expressed surprise at why the United States is the target of Muslim anger. We remind him and them that the US administration has a long record of exploitative interference in the Muslim World. From drone strikes in Pakistan, to soldiers burning copies of the Quran in Afghanistan, to torture by rendition, to Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, and Baghram airbase. The list is as long as it is ugly. So do not feign surprise. Further, Hillary Clinton justified the film in the name of freedom of expression, refusing to ask YouTube to take it down, whilst US authorities have asked for online material to be taken down in the past.
3. The large-scale and praiseworthy reaction from Muslims globally to the insulting film is not about the film alone. The film is merely a trigger and the latest manifestation of a persistent Western attack against Islam and Muslims. An attack defined by the likes of the unjust and savage invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the Danish Cartoons, decades of Western support for dictators in the Muslims, decades of economic and political subjugation of Muslim lands, and decades of preventing the Muslim World from assuming its own political destiny.
4. With respect to the protest in Sydney on Saturday 15/09/12, Hizb ut-Tahrir Australia had nothing to do with its organisation or execution. We do not condone violent protest. However, we affirm that primary responsibility for what occurred lies squarely on the powerful institutions of society – media and the political establishment in particular – which continually attack Islam and Muslims, creating the grievances that give rise to such incidents, isolating youth, and causing social tension.
5. Hizb ut-Tahrir is well-known globally as a non-violent political party. We have a sixty-year record of channeling the real grievances of Muslims all around the world into positive political activism to the end of removing Western-backed dictators in the Muslim World and replacing them with the Islamic Caliphate – representative, accountable governance on the basis of Islam which is independent of foreign powers.
6. Comments about Hizb ut-Tahrir and its media representative from Britain, Taji Mustafa, by the likes of Tony Abbott, Julie Bishop, Scott Morrison and Cory Bernardi are entirely baseless. This is the usual crowd of political opportunists who only reveal their hatred of Islam by continually attacking all things Islamic as they appeal to the Islamophobic fringe of their electorates. They lecture Muslims about the virtues of non-violence whilst supporting the most violent and inhumane foreign policies targeting Muslim lands abroad, such as in Afghanistan. [Taji Mustafa’s response on the ABC’s 7.30 Report can be seen here ]
7. Statements by Government officials have been equally hypocritical. Foreign Minister Bob Carr accused the protesters of provoking a ‘clash of civilisations’. Prime Minister Julia Gillard postured disgust at the violence. Here we have politicians who have sent fighter-jets, tanks and armed troops thousands of miles away to kill, maim and destroy in Afghanistan, posturing disgust about violence at a protest in Sydney that pales in comparison. How can such remarks be taken seriously?
8. It is of note that on the same night as the protests in Sydney, there a very similar incident on the streets of Perth, albeit for very different reasons. 500 teenage party-goers in Piara Waters, gathering in response to a party advertised on social media, went out of control. They hurled rocks, bottles and bricks at police. Reinforcements including mounted police, the dog squad and police helicopter were summoned in an attempt to disperse the crowd. A 19-year-old was stabbed and an ambulance window smashed.
This incident – evidently quite similar, if not worse, than the Sydney protests as far as objective facts go – received nowhere near as much media coverage. They were not dubbed the ‘Perth riots’. Politicians did not fall over one another to condemn the violence. Federal Parliament did not see a need to raise the issue and forward bipartisan condemnation . Parents and community leaders in the area were not asked to condemn the behaviour, nor did they themselves go out of their way to condemn the violence.
In this there are great lessons for those of insight in the Muslim community and the wider society. It is a clear illustration that the major issue with events in Sydney is not the violence, but the anti-Islamic agenda peddled by media and politicians. In turn we advise all in the Muslim community and the wider society to not scapegoat the powerless on superficial grounds for the crimes of the powerful.
9. The irresponsibility and anti-Islam agenda of the mainstream media has now extended to not even sparing young children from intentional distortion for negative portrayal. The sound bites used of 8-yr Ruqaya to concoct a story about the ‘Jihad girl’ is disgusting and deplorable, as is the intentional intertwining between Hizb ut-Tahrir’s conference and Saturday’s protest. Ruqaya’s message at the conference was a touching message from a child to the oppressed children and mothers in Syria – a message of empathy and support, which can be seen and read in full on our website.
10. We encourage Muslims to continue in their noble work of resisting Western attacks, accounting the political establishment and media, and re-doubling efforts to establish Islam and the Caliphate in the Muslim World. We encourage the noble youth of this Ummah in particular, who are its flag bearers, its prized assets and its future, to persevere. You are not weak. You are strong because of your Islam. You are not a minority. You are part of a global and powerful Ummah. Do not be phased by the media or the politicians. We do not expect anything better from them. We expect from you. Stand for Islam and work for its establishment.
Hizb ut-Tahrir Australia
18 September 2012