THE Protect Penrith Action Group’s campaign to stop two Islamic developments in Kemps Creek has hit another hurdle with its bid for an expert witness to give evidence rejected by the Land and Environment Court.
Acting Justice A J Moore refused a motion for planning expert Dr Judith Stubbs to give evidence during hearings set down for late November because he said her report contained irrelevant and impermissible considerations. He ordered the group to pay the legal costs of the motion.
The PPAG will lodge an appeal but faces escalating legal expenses, previously paying $14,000 for a day in court and required to pay
$65,000 before hearings begin in November to cover potential costs against the two proponents, Imam Ali Limited and Muhammadi Welfare Association.
A cost agreement is yet to be reached with Penrith Council.
To cover increasing legal costs the group has enlisted the help of Pauline Hanson, who is expected to attend a $150 per person fundraising dinner in November and is selling “stop the mosque” T-shirts.
The Protect Penrith Action Group has failed in its bid to have an expert witness give evidence in the NSW Land and Environment Court.
On Monday, Acting Justice A.J. Moore dismissed the group’s motion to allow Dr Judith Stubbs, the principal of a social planning consultancy based in Wollongong, to give evidence that proper planning processes were ignored in the approval of two Islamic developments at Kemps Creek last year.
In his judgment, Justice Moore said questions put to Dr Stubbs by the group’s legal team produced slanted answers and did not address proper planning matters.
“ (The group) ... by their inclusion of the words ‘and particularly as a mosque’ in question one, caused Dr Stubbs to write her report on the assumption that the fact that the place of public worship, in each instance, was proposed to be a mosque was a matter of
relevant consideration when it is not,” he said.
“ ... having proceeded down the path along which she was impermissibly invited, Dr Stubbs herself elected to deal with several matters in a fashion that, in themselves, were impermissible in any proper planning context.”
The group was ordered to pay costs but intends to appeal the ruling. Final hearing dates for the matter were set down for late November but could be delayed if the appeal is heard.
Protect Penrith Action Group is ramping up its fundraising efforts to help cover rising legal costs. One Nation leader Pauline Hanson and SBS reality TV show personality Kim Vuga have been listed to speak at $150 a head, three-course dinner. Pensioners are being charged a discount rate of $130.
Don't dare say hello to your `infidel' neighbor
A report by the Center for Religious Freedom shows that literature distributed at many U.S. mosques promotes extreme Islamic teachings as well as hatred of Jews, Christians, moderate Muslims and America.
By Nathan Guttman
Feb.14, 2005 | 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON - When a believing Muslim is summoned to the United States due to life's circumstances, Saudi Arabian authorities disseminate through a network of major American mosques, like other religious directives, clear ways as to how one should act in his new surroundings.
Take, for example, a document signed by the cultural attache at the Saudi embassy in Washington that instructs Muslims arriving in the United States not to initiate a greeting when meeting Christians or Jews, and never to convey good wishes marking a Christian or Jewish holiday. In general, the attache recommends that the Muslim believer avoid friendships with the infidels, be careful not to imitate their customs (e.g. not to wear a cap and gown at a graduation ceremony), and try not to remain in the country any longer than required. The Saudis feel that a good Muslim can stay in America only for two reasons: acquiring knowledge and capital to promote the objectives of jihad, and lobbying the infidels to accept Islam.
The aforementioned document and dozens of other papers and books are distributed for free at major mosques throughout the U.S. This is revealed in a recent study published by the Center for Religious Freedom, which is affiliated with Freedom House, an unaffiliated organization promoting political and economic freedom around the world, partly through research studies and information dissemination.
The center's representatives went to the 12 largest mosques in American urban centers and took samples of literature distributed to all comers. The study's findings were unequivocal: All of the mosques had literature originating from Saudi Arabia that promoted extreme Islamic teachings (Wahabi) as well as the hatred of Jews, Christians, moderate Muslims and America.
The report further exacerbates the rift in America between supporters of friendship with Saudi Arabia and those calling for a forceful approach against the kingdom. While the Bush administration continues to show patience toward the House of Saud, and finds rays of democratization and the war on terror, some congressmen consider the report on Saudi incitement in the mosques as additional evidence that the country's soft-handed approach is a mistake and will not produce results.
Examination of the literature began about a year and a half ago after American Muslims informed the center about hate literature being distributed in the mosques. Although the center usually tracks religious freedoms outside the United States, since this issue involved actions taken by a foreign regime, the Saudi government, it decided to pursue the investigation.
Once the material was assembled and translated, the researchers concluded that the Saudi Arabians indeed were trying to promote an attitude among Muslims living in America that they should resist their hosts and not befriend them. "It represents an ideology in which the Muslim in the U.S. is in enemy territory," Paul Marshall, a senior fellow at the center who co-authored the report, says.
One of the documents, signed by the Saudi embassy in Washington, warns Muslim foreigners that there are no Muslim scholars in the country who might guide the visitor, and therefore, he must learn from distributed written material. The document may explain how the Wahabi followers became mainstream in America, even though they are in the majority in the Muslim world at large.
You may (and must) curse
The main message of the material examined in the study is one of hatred toward any non-Muslim. "[I]t is basic Islam to believe that everyone who does not embrace Islam is an unbeliever, and must be called an unbeliever, and that they are enemies to Allah, his Prophet and believers," one handout distributed at a San Diego mosque said. Another document, found in the Great Mosque in Washington, D.C., explains to Muslims that they must keep their distance from non-believers: "To be disassociated from the infidels is to hate them for their religion, to leave them, never to rely on them for support, not to admire them, to be on one's guard against them, never to imitate them, and to always oppose them in every way according to Islamic law." A book was distributed in another mosque containing questions and answers on matters of religion. Regarding whether it is permitted to curse Christians and Jews, the author answers it is not only permitted, but also obligatory.
Hatred aside, the literature found in American mosques clearly maps out what sort of difficulties the United States can expect when it tries to enlist the Muslim community to help in the war on terror. The Saudi literature expresses absolute opposition to any believing Muslim working for the alien government or assisting it to defend itself from its enemies.
The report's authors believe that the aim of the authors and disseminators of the documents is to intimidate Muslims living in America not to become involved in local culture, thereby ensuring loyalty to the Islamic approach represented in the literature. A booklet distributed to high-school students at a Houston mosque goes so far as to warn Muslim youth not to celebrate birthdays in an American style.
Three wrongs of the Jews
Much of the literature groups Christians and Jews together as "infidels" whom one is obligated to hate, but a significant amount of the material specifically refers to hatred of Jews. "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" is referred to as absolute truth and as containing basic facts about Jews, who are accused of harming Muslim values and of being infidels. One document found in Washington even enumerates the three wrongs of the Jews against religion in general, and the Muslims in particular - Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud and the industrial revolution, which brought women into the labor force and caused the loss of their modesty. "They're anti-Semitic," Marshall says. "It is beyond criticism of Israel and views on the conflict; they speak directly about the Jews in an anti-Semitic way."
The material relating to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute also is rife with harsh expressions. A fourth-grade textbook written in Saudi Arabia that was handed out at a New Jersey mosque states that Israel is "a thorn in the back of the Muslim nations, and a window through which colonialism can sneak up among the ranks of the Muslims to work on dividing them, and light the fire of hatred between them." The book explains to pupils that "the Muslims will not rest until they cut off this disease, and purify the land of Palestine from the plague of Zionism."
The researchers also discovered some discordant expressions reserved for moderate Muslims, including a definition of Muslims who exhibit tolerance for other religions as "infidels." In a similar context, threats were leveled against any Muslim who converts - such an individual faces a punishment of death.
The Saudi embassy in Washington did not deny the existence of the incitement literature in mosques, or their Saudi origin. A statement issued to several American media outlets simply stated, "Saudi Arabia condemns extremism or hateful expressions among people anywhere in the world."
The study's authors are asking American mosques to take measures to prevent the free distribution of the literature, and that minimally, it should be placed in a separate area of the mosque. But beyond that, it will be difficult to do much about the phenomenon. Marshall explains there is disagreement among people engaged with the issue over whether it is permitted to restrict distribution of such written material: On the one hand, some people believe this is an issue of freedom of expression, protected by the First Amendment. On the other hand, however, some observers believe the First Amendment does not apply to foreign governments, and therefore, the United States can prohibit Saudi Arabia from bringing such material into its borders. Due to the differences of opinion, the Center for Religious Freedom is making do with a call on the administration to lodge a protest against Saudi Arabia regarding distribution of the hate literature.
However, the situation of the Saudi Arabians in Congress is much less secure. Two subcommittee chairmen in the House of Representatives already have promised to hold hearings on the subject. And at least three congressmen, prompted by the Center for Religious Freedom report, have issued condemnations of the Saudis. A group of six House lawmakers sent a letter to the Saudi ambassador in Washington, Prince Bandar, calling on him to denounce the literature.
Congress has been pestering the administration with a lengthy list of complaints against Saudi Arabia for some time, including foot dragging in the quelling of terror, questions of human rights and democracy within the kingdom, and issues of xenophobia and incitement toward anti-Semitism. It is hard to find any real changes, however, in the administration's position. U.S. President George W. Bush did issue a rare direct call on the Saudis in his State of the Union address two weeks ago, saying, "The government of Saudi Arabia can demonstrate its leadership in the region by expanding the role of its people in determining their future." However, critics contend this was merely lip service, and the United States has little intention of altering its supportive attitude toward the House of Saud.
Today marks the 60th anniversary of the historic meeting between former U.S. president Franklin Roosevelt and former Saudi King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud, a meeting that paved the way for long years of partnership between the two countries. The U.S.-Saudi relationship is still in robust condition, albeit with a sense of continued erosion: Disapproving voices in Congress, grievances of Democrats (expressed during John Kerry's presidential campaign), and the administration's desire to avoid an image of exercising double standards in its drive to realize the vision of promoting democracy around the world are jeopardizing the old friendship between the two states.
The Saudis still enjoy an open door to the administration, but now they are also appealing to the American people. For the past three years, they have invested large sums of money in advertising and public relations in the United States, and last month, a counselor at the Saudi Arabian embassy, Nail Al-Jubier, even embarked on a U.S. speaking tour with the aim of promoting Saudi interests.
Even so, the report on incitement literature is the clearest indicator of all that the Saudis have little to be concerned about. The American administration has done nothing about the report, so far. When asked about it last week, deputy spokesman of the State Department Adam Ereli said that the department is still studying the report and that it had yet to be determined that any "wrongdoing had been done by diplomatic establishments."
Once were warriors:
Why Islam failed Muslims
I got the idea for the title of this article from a movie I watched – “Once were Warriors”. The movie highlights the social problems of the Maoris. Most of you probably have not seen the show because the movie was made in New Zealand.
Now lets turn our attention to something more serious. Islam was immensely successful in the first few centuries of its birth. It spread like wildfire from Spain to Pakistan. The success was due to the fact that Islam is a warrior religion - the last of its kind today. But the qualities and ethos that led to success are also some of the reasons for its current failure. Today Muslims are among the poorest and most backward people in the world.
Lets take a look at some Islamic beliefs that make no sense unless you realise that Islam was designed to support a war machine. Firstly there is the emphasis of heavenly rewards for its fallen warriors. Just as the ferocious Vikings believed that brave fallen warriors go to Valhalla, Muslims believe that those who are killed in a Holy War (Jihad) go to heaven where they will be rewarded with 72 virgins.
For the conquerors who survived the war, they will get booty and again girls. So either way they win. It is useful for a commander to have brave warriors who do not fear death. Besides this, Muslims are also discouraged from fraternizing with non-Muslims. The Koran tells Muslims not to take Christians and Jews as friends and also says that Idolaters are filthy. Contempt for non-Muslims lead to hate. Hate is a useful emotion to cultivate in your warriors. Compassion and empathy for the “other” do not make willing warriors.
Another martial value that Islam promotes is discipline. It does this in many ways. Firstly, authority is centralized in one person - Mohammed and later his successors. There is no separation of church and state - or should I say mosque and state. This makes sure that there is no opposition. The Roman emperors too made sure that they were unchallenged by appointing themselves Pontifex Maximus (Chief Priest). This is in sharp contrast to medieval European kings whose ambitions were often opposed by the church.
Next, Islam is highly ritualistic and many rituals and practices appear to a modern person to be pointless. For example, out of the five pillars of Islam, four of them are ritualistic and in themselves do not do any material good. Praying five times a day, declaring Mohammed to be a prophet, going to Mecca to walk round and round the Black Stone and fasting during Ramadan do not by themselves make this a happier, kinder and more prosperous world. The only one of the five pillars that does some good to mankind is the giving of the zakat - alms for the poor. However, this alms giving must be only for Muslims or it does not count. Therefore it benefits only a fifth of mankind.
Would it not be better for the Grand Designer of Islam (whoever that might be) to declare the five pillars to contain prohibitions against murder, theft, adultery and encouragements to perform kindness and assistance to the unfortunate people of the world? Besides these five pillars, Islam has countless other rituals and practices. These include the growing of beards, which hand to use to wash your private parts, which shoe to put on first, what types of body hair you are allowed to remove and so on. Some of these practices and rituals appear meaningless to me but on further examination there is a purpose to them.
The trick is to stop thinking that Islam, like other religions, was designed primarily to uplift humanity from barbarism by making us kinder, more forgiving and so on. It was designed instead to support a war machine. Islamic rituals and practices are designed at least partly to induce discipline and to unite Islam’s early followers who were drawn from many tribes. Lets take a look at the requirement to pray five times a day, facing Mecca.
By praying five times a day, Muslims are reminded to submit to God 5 times a day. By facing Mecca, they are reminded of Arabia and to subtly get Muslims to identify themselves with Arabia. That is also why they insist that you cannot understand the Koran fully unless you know Arabic. Prayers are to be made in Arabic. That is why there are so many Arab wannabes among non-Arab Muslims. This is also why to this day, Muslims are a potential fifth column in western countries. Their loyalty is often to their Ummah and not to the state they live in. Loyalty to their nation state is weak.
Rituals are important as brainwashing tools to instill discipline and loyalty.
Islam's focus on rituals remind me of the rituals in the military. Every morning you have a flag raising ceremony. You salute the officers. You must all be clean shaven and wear the same clothes. You sing patriotic songs. Soldiers perform all manner of rituals designed to promote loyalty, bravery and obedience.
Performing Islam's seemingly meaningless rituals is an affirmation that they do not question the will of God. In practice this meant that they do not question Mohammed and his successors. This is really good military discipline and is something all military leaders want.
Now, lets turn our attention to the issue of apostasy for this is an important way in which Islam imposes discipline. As we all know, Islam is the only religion that insists that apostates be put to death. Muslims equate apostasy as treachery. For others, you are a true Christian, Buddhist or Hindu, only if you truly believe. Threatening people with death does not change what they believe in their hearts and is thus pointless.
This Muslim punishment only makes sense if you imagine yourself as a military commander of an army drawn from many tribes and religions (before conversion). An apostate is seen as someone who wants to defect to the enemy. Thus once again, Islamic teaching only make sense if you view Islam not so much as a religion like others but as a tool for Arab imperialism.
There is another thing that I should mention. According to the Koran and Hadiths, Muslims are allowed to have up to four wives and an unlimited number of slave girls. Having multiple wives actually gave a society constantly warring with its neighbours a military advantage over those that practice monogamy.
War widows can find new husbands and thereby produce children. Women were valued chiefly for their procreation abilities to produce more warriors. Of course in all ancient societies, women were lowly valued but more so in a warlike one where the survival of the society depended on male warriors. This accounts for the extra low status Islam gave women.
But what worked well for a medieval war machine is disastrous for Muslims in the modern world. For the early Muslims, they quickly gained wealth and power after they burst out of their poverty stricken Arabian Peninsula. The Arab war machine was supported by the blind obedience, brotherhood, courage, hatred and high birth rates inspired by Islam. But these same qualities have locked modern Muslims into poverty and often violence.
Without separation of mosque and state, it is difficult to make reforms. Islam is described by its followers as a complete way of life. This means that the ancient detailed instructions have been written down for Muslims to follow in all aspects of life for all time. This reminds me of the specialists and generalists of nature.
Some species like the Koala bear are specialists. They have adapted very well to a certain type of environment – the eucalyptus forests of Australia. But they are vulnerable if there is a change in environment. Generalists on the other hand do not evolve special advantages to thrive in any one environment.
Man is a generalist and can be found living in deserts as well as the frozen ice of the tundra. Had we specialized by growing blubber like the whales, we might thrive very well in the tundra but we can never live in deserts.
Islam is like the specialists. It prospered because its ethos makes it very successful as a medieval war machine when men fought with swords, bows and spears. But these same values make Muslims ill-equipped in an industrial and now post industrial world.
The emphasis on jihad where stained soldiers of Allah are rewarded with virgins in heaven may make great warriors but contribute to suicide bombers and intractable wars against unbelievers.
Conflicts with Muslims seem so hard to resolve as there is a never-ending stream of volunteers to fight in hopes of attaining their places in heaven. There can be no moderates when it comes to going to heaven. Inciting hatred for non-believers does not help the resolution of conflicts. Such thinking is bound to get a reaction from the non-believers they come into contact with.
The desire for war cannot be conducive for economic growth. This is doubly disastrous for Muslims because as I shall later explain, their religion retards economic progress in many ways. War coupled with economic weakness spells disaster. One of the driving force for economic growth is technology. While Islam can create disciplined soldiers, it cannot create good scientists.
As explained earlier, Islam’s ritualistic practices inculcate blind obedience among its followers and not questioning inquisitive minds. The way the Koran is taught in traditional Madrassahs is by memorization. This leaves no room for asking questions. The student is not encouraged to ask questions but only receives wisdom and learning from the teacher. Asking questions risks the student of being accused of blasphemy or unbelief.
The learning process is receptive and not interactive. Great scientists and philosophers do not come from such a passive environment. Human society progresses only if you have people willing to challenge orthodoxy. It should be noted that some of the greatest thinkers, scientists, philosophers, physicians and poets in Islam’s golden age were accused of blasphemy or apostasy. Bashshar Ibn Burd, Avicenna, Averroes, Al-Razi and Al-Ma’arri were most likely apostates.
Next we take a look at Islam’s subordination of women. This keeps them at home. Muslim women are not encouraged to work. It is a fact that women who stay at home tend to produce more children than those who go out to work. A high fertility rate may be a military advantage in an era when men fought with primitive weapons, but this is a handicap in the era of the internet.
Firstly, if women are regarded as second class citizens, there is less incentive to educate them properly. Semi-educated or illiterate mothers will find difficulty in educating their own children. Half the population is women. Therefore half the potential labour force is also women. You are not making full use of your human resources. This is not a new problem.
By Averroes time (1126 – 1198), the problem had manifested itself. Five hundred years after Mohammed, Muslim society already needed reforms. The practices that turned warring Arab tribes into world conquerors were already becoming outdated. This is what he said:
“Women are kept like domestic animals or house plants for purposes of gratification, of a very questionable character besides, instead of being allowed to take part in the production of material and intellectual wealth, and in the preservation of the same.”
Furthermore, a high fertility rate means more mouths to feed. While population pressures could be motivation for impoverished tribes to participate in wars of conquest in the 7th century, this is not an option today. You need industrial might to support a war machine today where wars are complex and expensive.
Today, a high fertility rate leads to poverty in third world countries and poverty stricken countries are advised by development experts to curb their population growth. Related to this issue of high fertility is the early age of some Muslim marriages. All agricultural societies tend to have early marriages. But other societies can be more easily persuaded to change with the times.
Muslim society, on the other hand, is more resistance to change. Thus recently, an Indian Muslim group wants exemption from a law requiring marriage partners to be at least 18 years old. This well-meaning law is aimed at allowing time for people to get a proper education before marriage and child-care.
The problem arises for the Muslim community because of Mohammed’s marriage to 9 year old Aisha. To accept this law would in their eyes be an insult to their holy Prophet. How can a Muslim accept a law, which would have criminalized their Prophet? This case again highlights how Islam is stuck in the 7th century.
Islam is a warrior’s creed that served its early followers well. From impoverished desert tribes, they rose to forge an empire in a short time that stretched from Spain to India. The ethos it engendered – brotherhood for believers, contempt and hatred for non-believers, belief in heavenly rewards for fallen warriors, a high fertility rate (which requires the subordination of women), blind obedience – created formidable warriors.
But these same qualities are handicaps for Muslims in the age of the microchip. Today they lead to poverty, belligerency, war and defeat. Many Muslims look back with fondness to their days of glory and try to recover their former days by using the old methods. That is why there is today a rising tide of Islamic fundamentalism across the Muslim world. They are bewildered at their weakness and look for conspiracy theories. Muslims think their failure is due to some Jewish or American plot not realizing that failure comes from within themselves. They are out of touch with reality.
Once were warriors, Muslims are now like Don Quixote tilting at windmills in a world they no longer understand.