- Hat tip : Shane
In response to ‘The Great Australian Bikini March’ the Islamic Information and Support Centre has called for a community BBQ and mosque open day against racism and sexual assault from 1pm on Saturday, December 9, at 19 Michael Street, Brunswick.
‘The Great Australian Bikini March’ was called as a protest against recent comments by the Sydney-based Sheik Hilaly regarding sexual assault. It was planned for Saturday December 9, the anniversary of the Cronulla riots. The official spokesperson for the march describes herself as a veteran bikini-wearing grandma. The key demands of the march are for the deportation of Sheik Hilaly, and also of Keysar Trad (Hilaly’s spokesman), and Melbourne’s Sheik Omran. As well, they are calling for ‘urgent citizenship legislation’ to ‘weed out extremists.’
The march was to start at Clifton Park in Brunswick and end at the Islamic Information and Support Centre, which is headed by Sheik Omran, on Michael Street. According to the organisers, the march has been postponed to ‘Australia Day’ (January 26) in the city. White supremacist groups are still calling for people to march on December 9 regardless.
In language reminiscent of the Cronulla riots, the group has been calling on ‘average Australians’ to show up to demonstrate their support for women’s safety, which, they argue, is under threat from ‘extremist Muslim attitudes’ towards women and sexual assault. They say “We must now stand together on this issue, regardless of what other issues we might have, to ensure Australia’s wives, mothers, daughters and sisters feel safe in their own country.”
The march’s organisers are attempting to perpetuate the myth that sexual violence is imported into Australia by Muslims and other ‘foreigners’. Islamophobic portrayals of Muslim men as threats to the ‘nation’ and rapists of white women makes sexual violence within ‘Australian’ society invisible. In particular, it denies and excuses the sexual and gendered violence endured by Muslim women at the hands of white men. The depressing reality is that rape is endemic to Australian society, and most rapes are perpetrated by family, friends and acquaintances. Even more depressing is the widespread denial and indifference that is the overwhelming response of ‘Australians’ to this epidemic. In the last ten years state and federal governments have massively defunded sexual assault services and education programs.
Sexual assault is often made the butt of jokes or even defended in public ‘Aussie’ culture. Prominent representatives of Australian society have often made particularly revealing comments about social attitudes to sexual assault.
Some comments you may not have heard:
- “Some of the boys love a ‘bun’. Gang banging is nothing new for our club or the rugby league.”
— A Canterbury Bulldogs player commenting on gang rape allegations made against team members
“Our domestic violence policy could be called ‘the things that batter’.”
— Then Liberal Party Leader Alexander Downer‘s version of humour while promoting the Liberal Party‘s The Things That Matter campaign
“My belief is that this was not sex abuse. There was no suggestion of rape or anything like that. Quite the contrary, my information is that it was, rather, the other way around.”
— Peter Hollingworth, then Australian Governor-General, commenting on the case of a priest who had sexually abused a fourteen year old girl. The Governor-General felt it was appropriate to suggest that the teenage girl was the more likely sexual predator [See also : Governor-General: Fit to Govern?, Sunday, February 17, 2002; following a public outcry, over a year later, Hollingworth resigned on May 28, 2003]
“If every man stopped the first time a woman said ‘No’, the world would be a much less exciting place to live.”
— [New Zealand] High Court Judge Morris in 1996 rape case [See also : Myths and Realities of Sexual Violence, NSW Rape Crisis Centre; Judicial vision : rape, prostitution and the ‘chaste woman’, Jocelyn Scutt (PDF)]
To date none of these men have been deported.
The controversy around Hilaly’s comments regarding sexual assault have been used as a justification by the group. However, their demands have nothing to do with preventing sexual violence, or challenging its causes. For instance: through education programs, or the restoration of the funding slashed for sexual assault support services. Rather, the appeal to a defence of ‘Australian values’ is about intensifying the persecution of Muslims and glorifying a ‘beach culture’ which is deeply misogynistic and racist.
This statement was produced by ‘Not my Grandma’ and is not affiliated to the Islamic Information and Support Centre.
Please also note :
Civil Rights Defence is holding a rally as part of an International Day of Action to call for the immediate release of David Hicks and his repatriation to Australia. The rally will take place at Federation Square on December 9 at 2pm. The event is held in co-operation with Amnesty International and Liberty Victoria.
David Hicks has now spent five years interned in the US concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay. During this time he has been held in solitary confinement for months on end, been interrogated countless times, suffered various forms of torture and sensory deprivation, and has been denied the fundamental right to a fair trial. The Australian government is entirely complicit in this human rights violation. John Howard, Philip Ruddock and Alexander Downer have refused to call for Hicks to be released, instead going along with the Bush administration’s phoney military commissions, which violate the Geneva Conventions and which are condemned by the Red Cross, Amnesty International, and the British government among many others.
Come along on the 9th and show the government that torture is unacceptable and that David Hicks must be released now.