A friend of mine was sent a video by a relative, and she in turn sent it to me to ask my opinion on what occurred in it. At face value, the video (shared on Facebook last week) was of a woman walking through the streets of Lakemba, a New South Wales area, which is majority Muslim. The video showed her getting dirty looks as she went down the street, and a police officer approached her and told her to leave the area. Rather bizarre, until you look into it and gain context – there’s always two sides to every edited hit piece video.
The video was made by a woman named Lauren Southern, a Canadian who, as best I can describe her, appears to be a female Milo Yiannopoulos. That is, an intentionally provocative and ill-informed fool, capitalising on their infamy by doing speaking tours (when they aren’t busy being banned from entering other countries) to spout garbage to equally ill-informed masses.
I will justify that statement by saying that, before I even looked into the origins of the video, it was obvious who the intended audience was. A slew of One Nation and Fraser Anning fans were fuming – always a joyful sight – and anyone who dared question the legitimacy of what happened was hounded for it. Clearly, with comments like that, there was more to the video than some vague, aggressive portrayal of a Muslim community.
Southern starts the video off by saying she was going to walk around the town and interview people about Islam, but once she was on the streets it was obvious that interviews weren’t what she was after. Immediately the tone shifted to dark looks from people on the street as she filmed them. Aggressive? Hardly; if someone with her track record wandered by filming me I’d give them a similarly disgusted look.
No, what Southern really wanted was to cause trouble. A known anti-immigration and anti-Islam provocateur, she was ready – in her own words – to walk to a mosque and criticise Islam. Take a moment to consider what her response would be if someone did the same thing, but instead to a church or synagogue – I’m sure she’d be livid.
So it was no surprise that a policeman, who was probably aware of her presence in the area, and of her history, intervened and asked that she instead leave. She pleaded the tired line of free speech, repeatedly stating she had a right to criticise Islam. Fair enough, as anyone has the right to criticise any religion if they so please. A bit of common decency, however, would suggest you don’t just show up in said religion’s place of worship and start talking shit about it.
If she had gone there to legitimately ask questions and to learn from the community about what they believed, then I would assume she’d have been welcomed with open arms. Because she had gone there to try and provoke a reaction – preferably a violent one, of course – the threat of arrest for ‘disturbing the peace’ isn’t so surprising. Now, if she had continued, and did indeed cause a violent reaction from someone, then whoever did so would deservedly be punished for it. It would still stand, however, that she acted intentionally to bring it about.
The video ends with her leaving the police officer, disgustedly stating Sharia Law has already taken over the area and calling Lakemba “conquered land”. Let’s take a step back here and analyse this. First of all, this video was not from last week. This video was taken by Southern, and shared by such lovely news sources as the Daily Telegraph, mid last year. For all those upset about it now, you’re a bit late to the party. But most importantly, her claims are simply false.
As a secular nation, Australia does not have a government controlled by religious law (although some so-called religious politicians certainly try to spark division down those lines – can you guess which religion it is? Hint: not Islam). As for Southern’s experience in Lakemba, her claim is that she was a victim of Sharia Law for not being able to provocatively criticise Islam in a majority Muslim area. No, that’s not Sharia Law, that is a police officer acting in the interests of Australian law.
No one is stopping Southern, and many others, from criticising Islam – the massive social media following online is proof of that. But there is a difference between legitimate criticism and just being confrontational. For example, Saudi Arabia and terror groups like ISIS follow a fringe and fundamentalist doctrine, Wahhabism, and use incredibly violent methods (although a fair number of these are more politically motivated than religiously, but it plays a part). In Brunei, the Sultan just passed laws, to be effective soon, condemning those charged with homosexuality or adultery to death by stoning. In countries like that too, that rights of women are severely hampered, with Saudi female activists being imprisoned for standing against the government for example.
Islam, like all religions, has flaws and, like all religions in history, has violent and extremist followers. Nothing of the sort exists here in Australia at all, to my knowledge; all my Muslim acquaintances have actually been incredibly open, tolerant, and peace seeking people. More than I can say for certain high profile ‘Christians’ out there. Which goes to show that one cannot stereotype an entire religion on the actions of an extreme minority.
If people like Southern really were interested in making a difference about Islam’s faults, then maybe supporting Donald Trump, who has close ties with Saudi Arabia’s royal family, is a bit hypocritical. Maybe criticising Saudi Arabia or Brunei and fighting for the rights of women, LGBT people, and other minorities would give them more credibility.
Stamping your feet in manufactured outrage, just because you can’t talk shit to people in public for fame, is not ‘waking up’, it’s pathetic. Trying to block search and rescue boats from finding refugees in the Mediterranean Sea and being banned from New Zealand and Britain isn’t ‘activism’, it’s proof of derangement. Attacking Muslims in Australia, who make up less than 3% of the population here, and portraying them as invaders isn’t taking a stand, it’s a sad attempt to boost a fragile ego that’s as small as that statistic.
I do not want any form of religious law or religious influence creeping into political matters, but it is an outright lie to claim Sharia Law or ‘violent’ Muslims are taking over.
Liked this? Read about why I believe that the Church and the State should be kept separate, but because of a different Abrahamic religion in Australia: Pell and the Pollies: Why Separation of Church and State Is A Must
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