Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Religious freedom is a tricky thing

Rob Forsyth below thinks that Muslims must be allowed to follow their religious dictates even when they clash with normal Australian customs.  And if the Muslim custom does no harm why not allow it?

The answer surely is that we want immigrants from chaotic parts of the world not to bring their dysfunctional beliefs and customs with them.  We want them to learn our ways -- the ways that have made Australia an attractive destination for them. 

And the various attacks on Australians by Jihadis do tell us that imported Muslim attitudes are a serious problem.  We do well to ask Muslims for assimilation as the price for being here. 

Sikh customs, Hindu customs, Chinese customs are all fine and can  reasonably be accommodated -- because they do not bring hostility towards us with them.  It is precisely Islam that is the problem.  Sikhs, Hindus and Chinese do not attack us.  Some Muslims do.  All men are not equal nor are all religions

After all, Muslims can practice all the Muslim customs they like in the many Muslim countries. Why not go to one of those if our customs don't suit them? Malaysia is just to the North of us and it's not a bad place -- thanks to the large Chinese minority there

Two weeks have passed since the controversy over Hurstville Boy's Campus of Georges River College agreeing to a protocol allowing Muslim students not to shake hands with women.

A proper understanding of religious freedom suggests the school did the right thing and its critics are mistaken.  Freedom of religion is not just the freedom to believe but also, in the words of Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR),the freedom "to manifest [ ...] religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching." In this case, if there is a way to accommodate the manifestation of the religious views of the young men, why shouldn't it be done?

The views in question may be strange even to mainstream Islam. But religious freedom never depended on the reasonableness of the religion involved. Nor is it any good to assert that giving in at this point is the thin edge of a 'sharia' wedge. Religious freedom is not absolute. It is, as the ICCPR asserts, subject to such limitations that are "necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others." No sharia.

But is it sexist? Maybe, but in itself that is not a reason to deny religious freedom. And having an agreed protocol manages the risk of misunderstanding and substitutes another gesture of respect.

Government schools are essentially secular institutions, but they are not secularist imposing an Australian version of a French hard line laïcité -- a core concept in France's constitution, Article 1 of which states that the country is a secular one.

The School need not be criticised, but like any religion, Islam certainly can be. The right to religious freedom is not the right to be free from criticism or even ridicule. Something often goes wrong when Islam is discussed. The left forget their abhorrence of sexism, and others can lose their passion for freedom.


An ANTI-Muslim hoax?

Below is an excerpt from an article by Michael Brull. Brull is a far-Leftist Jewish Australian and his writings boil with hate.  I have left the abuse and hate out.  I have just excerpted the apparently factual bits of his article below.  So the article now is about half as long as comrade Brull left it

Today Tonight in Adelaide featured yet another report on Muslims.

The story was based primarily around three figures, supposedly representing the important insight of Muslims concerned about Muslims. Two of them were presented as Muslim clerics. One was Mostafa Rachid. The other was Mohammed Tawhidi. And the third figure was Jamal Daoud, presented as a “Sunni community leader”. Daoud’s is called a “leader” presumably on the basis that the TV presenter liked what he was told by Daoud.

The star of the show was Tawhidi, who used his supposed status as a Muslim religious scholar to attack Muslims and Islam. The show opened with him saying that, “When I am worried about what’s happening and what I see from my community and my religion, trust me that there’s something that’s going on.”

Tawhidi made numerous inflammatory statements. He claims there was a plan to increase the population of Muslims in Australia, to buy real estate, and give the streets Islamic names. And those Islamic names would be in memory of those who “massacred and killed people”. And then they’ll ban drinking and anything “un-Islamic”, it’ll be a small Islamic country within Sydney. He also claimed that ISIS hides among refugees fleeing to Europe, some of them disguised as women. Presumably he is opposed to Western countries accepting Muslim refugees.

The journalist was impressed by this rendition, and his “stark warning of a plan to alter Australia forever, to establish a caliphate here right under our noses”. Tawhidi confirmed this theory, saying that the alleged fact that a Muslim imam is worried (him), shows that something must be done.

Tawhidi called for governments to stop the building of mosques and Islamic community centres, and for a government body to be established to investigate everything in relation to the Muslim community.

In response, the online Muslim magazine One Path Network issued a video response to the report, along with a short written summary. Both are refutations of Today Tonight’s report. They showed that the two supposed Muslim scholars have something like zero credibility. As for Tawhidi:

“Little is known about Mr Tawhidi, who claims to be a “Muslim leader” in South Australia. His centre named the “Islamic Association of South Australia” was only set up last year and there is little to no information available about the centre and its attendees.

When One Path Network approached the Australian National Imams Council, ANIC, for comment on the above individual, they stated that Mr Tawhidi was “not recognised as an Imam, Sheikh or Muslim leader”. ANIC is the official representative body of all Imams across Australia and has over 250 members.

The Imams Council of South Australia was also approached for a public comment and they too stated that ” he was not recognised” and “not part of the Islamic leadership in South Australia”.”

And Rachid, the supposed scholar brought on to claim that alcohol and pork are halal? One Path Network reports:

“The other “Imam” used in the segment is known as Mustafa Rashed, and is a known imposter and fraud. He has previously claimed to be the Mufti of Australia, and was exposed by ANIC in 2014 for his fraudulent remarks. He has no known credentials in Islamic Studies and neither does he have a centre in Australia or a following.”

This was followed by a media release by ANIC, the Australian National Imams Council, featured in the video report by One Path. It observed that Tawhidi is “not a recognised Imam, Sheikh or Muslim leader”. The video report, fronted by Malaz Majanni, noted that “Imams for Peace” seems to consist entirely of Tawhidi.


Hug a farmer, they've just saved Australia's economic bacon

Guy Milson has been farming his land six kilometres outside Goulburn for the past 38 years. "People 'round here the call me a newcomer," he said. "They tell me you haven't had time to unpack your bags."

But during four decades on the farm, rarely has Mr Milson seen as season as good as this one - and neither has the rest of Australia.

Agricultural growth surged by an extraordinary 27.6 per cent in 2016, the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics national accounts have revealed, following a record harvest in every state. While agriculture enjoyed a double-digit leap, the traditional driver of the Australian economy - mining - grew by just 4.6 per cent. Retail struggled, and manufacturing and construction went backwards.

Agriculture had 10 times its average contribution to the economy in the three months to December, making up 0.5 per cent of the country's 1.1 per cent growth. It usually contributes just .05 per cent.

"It is a fantastic year for agriculture and it's made a very strong contribution to the Australian economy on the back of a record winter crop," said Trish Gleeson, a commodity analyst at the Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences.

The farming boom looks set to continue, with export earnings in cotton projected to skyrocket by 56 per cent, wheat 25 per cent and sugar 23 per cent. 

Angus Taylor, Mr Milson's local federal MP, said farmers in his electorate "haven't been as buoyant as this for many many decades, probably my lifetime".

The Deputy Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister, Barnaby Joyce, said regional areas had "saved the economy" but not enough Australians appreciated the contribution.

"We are actually making money that actually helps this nation pay its bills," he said this week.

But hurdles remain on the horizon.

Sugar has become a major political issue in cane growing regions on the back of fears the industry might miss out on the wider boom. A pricing gridlock has forced Queensland growers to stock excess harvests despite the bumper crop.

While the last year also saw strong gains for cattle across the country, export earnings this year are forecast to fall for 17 per cent for beef.

Cattle farmers hope the projection will be reversed by a new deal signed this week between Indonesia and Australia to increase the import cattle weight limit from 350 to 450 kilograms.


Australia poised to seize world economic record

Australia is on the cusp of achieving something truly remarkable – not to mention unprecedented in modern world history.

In 26 days, as the clock ticks over to April 1, Australia will likely have bested the Netherlands to lay claim to the title of the longest economic expansion on record, entering our 104th quarter of economic growth without recession.

The Dutch winning streak kicked off in 1982 thanks to the biggest natural gas field in Europe and lasted for 103 quarters before the Netherlands succumbed to the turmoil of the global financial crisis in 2008.

In the first of three significant European elections in coming months, Dutch voters will go to the polls next week and have a strong chance of electing an anti-Islam, far-right politician called Geert Wilders, who has spent the past 13 years living in protective seclusion after death threats from Islamic militarists over this controversial views, including wanting to close all Mosques and comparing the Koran to Mein Kampf.

Meanwhile, back at home, the news that Australia has avoided a technical recession with growth rebounding in the December quarter was greeted with little more than a shrug.

It deserves much more recognition than that.  Australia has just pulled off the Great Escape.  The end of the end of the mining boom is almost here. We made it.  We've escaped the resources curse which has defined our economic history.

Not only will we beat the Dutch, we've beaten the economic curse which bears their name, "Dutch disease".

A 1977 article in the Economist coined the term to describe how large resource booms tend to suck the life out of other parts of the economy, like manufacturing, by raising wage costs and the exchange rate.

Australia has suffered Dutch disease in several periods during our history, most notably in the first 1850s gold rush. In a fascinating speech in 2010, then Reserve Bank deputy governor, Ric Battellino, recalled how that gold rush led to a doubling of shepherds' wages in just three years and contraction in the number of NSW manufacturing firms from 165 to 140.

Indeed, of the five major mining booms that Australia has had, the majority ended in double digit inflationary outbursts.

At the time, Battellino hoped that this most recent China-induced mining boom would be different, thanks to our floating exchange rate, a more flexible labour market and more soundly based frameworks for monetary and fiscal policy. Seven years later, it turns out he was right.

Since the mining investment boom peaked about four years ago, the Aussie dollar has fallen significantly, supporting other exporters. Wages growth has fallen too, which isn't great for workers, but certainly helps us to recover our international competitiveness.

Lower interest rates have also responded to cushion jobs growth in other sectors.

All in all, we've survived the biggest commodity supercycle in our history relatively unscathed. Income growth has been disappointing recently, compared to previous gains, but those gains have not been unwound. Australia today is a vastly richer country than it was before the boom.

According to a recent testimony to Parliament by Reserve Bank governor, Philip Lowe, we are now 90 per cent through the fall in mining investment that has dragged on growth for about four years. While there are no major new investments on the horizon, mining companies have now begun investing again in upkeep of their existing infrastructure.

"Higher prices have given them the confidence to do a bit more sustaining investment – that is a positive development," Dr Lowe told the parliamentary committee. "We hear that in some areas, partly in Western Australia, the higher prices are encouraging people to at least think about exploration again, whereas exploration activity had fallen way off. It is still going to be a headwind for a little while, but not like the headwind we have had for the last four years."

Meanwhile, several other economic winds blow in our favour. Most notably, the skies have opened on our agriculture sector. Unleashing havoc in our cities, the rains have breathed new life into our exports of cotton, wheat and sugar.

And Asia's burgeoning middle classes continue to underpin a boom in education exports, with foreign student numbers only likely to benefit further from America's great intellectual leap backwards.

Lastly, state governments have finally begun to address Australia's yawning infrastructure gap, most notably in Sydney, which has turned into one giant, rain-soaked worksite of late.

Obviously, our economy is not without its challenges.

While activity levels are sound, prices growth has been weak. In theory, booming corporate profits should trickle through to higher wages, but they haven't yet. Business spirits remain dampened by political uncertainty. And there has been a worrying rise in household debt relative to income as low interest rates fuel a house price boom in some capital cities. While the Reserve Bank is likely to stay on the sidelines for most of this year, the next move in interest rates will be up – barring any new international shocks – which will be a major test for our newest indebted households.

Aussies are fond of talking ourselves down. And caution is warranted. But we are about to lay claim to the strongest economic performance in world history.

And that will be worth celebrating.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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