Like most organisations from the right, the Q Society of Australia states that it is defending freedom of speech and whose main aim is to inform Australia about Islam. It states that Australia values freedom of expression and that most Australians have been brought up to respect all religions. It then asks: ‘what if a religion considers our laws as deficient and advocates the violation of basic human rights?’ and ‘what if these rights are being violated right here in Australia?’
What the Q Society seems most concerned about is the “recent invention of halal certification schemes” and they then direct you to a website called ‘halal choices’ which asks ‘do you want to pay another tax – an islamic religious tax? Their ‘halal choices’ probably has as much choice as ‘work choices’.
On one of their pages they launch into a series of statements entitled ‘upholding Australian values’ which supposedly comprise a series of attitudes, ethics and behavioural norms as well as historical, social and political foundations and they assert that some of these make us uniquely Australian. These are: Australians are fair dinkum, we want a fair go, we have a special sense of freedom, we have the Anzac spirit, our egalitarianism is better than anybody else’s and our community spirit is different and is in great danger of being destroyed by nihilistic multiculturalism. The buffoonery in these lines is designed to appeal to those who think the 1960s were the good old days and that people unlike white christians should know their place.
It is difficult to know where to start with all this drivel, but I will have a go. Most of it is centred on ignorance, which many of the followers of any sort of bigotry have in spades.
Halal food is that which is permissible for observant Muslims to eat, but Halal extends to any aspect of life covered by the moral teachings of Islam. Despite this, even Muslims cannot agree on the details of what constitutes Halal food. That is why it is important to observant Muslims to have some sort of certification standard.
Why have certification? Firstly, the globalisation of markets makes it difficult for observant Muslims to know how their food was produced and where it has come from. Therefore a system of certification is needed to inform local Muslims if food is acceptable. Secondly, with the international trade in Halal food estimated to be about $A1.6 trillion annually, and with the most populous, dominantly Muslim nation on our doorstep, any company that exports food and other products to those markets needs to have Halal certification. This certification provides enormous trade opportunities for Australian companies, and currently Australia’s share of that international trade is about $13 billion. Halal certification is required for red meat exports to Indonesia, Malaysia, Iran, Iraq, UAE, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Brunei, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. These markets comprise over half a billion people and it would be foolish, to do what many of the knuckledraggers suggest, and do away with Halal certification. As of late 2014, there were about 20 organisations providing Halal certification in Australia.
That was some of the facts. Now we get to the stupidity. Several businesses have been targeted by anti-Islam social media campaigns simply for selling Halal food or by trying to explain what Halal food is. In November, 2014, South Australian dairy producer Fleurieu Milk and Yoghurt dropped its halal certification after receiving threats on social media. The company seemingly lost a $50,000 contract with the Emirates airline because of it.
Senator Jacqui Lambie, who is not the sharpest tool in the shed, threatened to introduce a private bill to close supposed loopholes which allowed the financing of terrorists through the certification process. She stated that she was prompted to look into it after receiving hundreds of e-mails from ‘concerned residents’. It is likely that some of these were of the knuckledragger variety.
Well known Right Wing Nut Job, Nationals MP George Christensen suggested much the same thing, that consumers were unwittingly funding Islamic extremism. In his blog, Christensen stated that he did not know if his grocery spending was going to propagate a religion or to fund extremist religious activities. Most of the social media responses he received were derisive in nature, as normal people are not stupid enough to believe him. Many replied that they did not want their tax money going to fund Abbott’s religious chaplains in schools program.
Former Western Australian Liberal MP, Luke Simpkins, who is a conservative christian, claimed that Australians eating Halal food, were one step away from converting to Islam. Jeez, I’d better watch myself; I’d hate to have 50 years of atheism go up in smoke! As a demonstration of Simpkins’ limited intellect, he made a complete fool of himself by confusing the logo of a Perth Nightclub, the Speakeasy, with a jihadist flag. This fool was a member of the Australian Parliament; people actually voted for him!
Some activist groups, mostly of the knuckledragger variety, have maintained that certification funds extremist groups and is the thin end of the wedge to the introduction of sharia law. Of course, none of these activists have produced any evidence whatsoever. In addition, investigations have shown that there is no link to, nor funding of terrorism or extremism.
Saint Bernardi, the religious right wing nut job who, over the next five years or so, has to hawk his wares, such as they are, around any forum that will take him seriously, went to the Melbourne Q Society meeting. This was in the hope that he could find his natural home after deciding that the Liberals were too left wing for him. However, former Liberal MP and now Sky News commentator, well known ‘circus act’ Ross Cameron’s remarks at the Sydney Q society meeting about the “Sydney Morning ‘Homosexual’” newspaper and the Liberal Party essentially being a “gay club” were too much even for Saint Bernardi. His horror was perhaps exacerbated by cartoonist Larry Pickering, who stated something along the lines of ‘not all Muslims are bad, because some do chuck pillow-biters off buildings’. Saint Bernardi felt sorry for the ‘unfairly marginalised Q Society’ members who now have to face another shitstorm, mostly of their own making. I don’t imagine this stupidity will help their attempt to raise cash for Kirralie Smith’s defence of her defamation case brought by Mohamed El-Mouelhy, president of the Halal Certification Authority.
These Q Society morons might be taken seriously if they had also noted that there is a Kosher Certification Authority (Kashrut Authority), which for a fee undertakes a similar certification process, as that of the Halal Certification Authority. But they won’t, because they know that Conservative politicians in Australia, being generally very pro-Israel, would be all over them like a cheap suit. They also know that assorted Jewish organisations would perhaps rightly point the finger at them and ask: are you anti-Semitic?
There is also a Gluten Free Accreditation Program, where applicants are required to pay a fee to receive accreditation. So, to say that Halal certification is the big problem simply demonstrates the Q Society’s bigotry.
It is the government dog whistle that is to blame for the spread of this anti-muslim bigotry. Howard and Abbott and some of their colleagues have used it to great effect in garnering votes among the gullible. Not only has the dog whistle led to the formation of fruitcake organisations like the Q Society, with its assorted nasty hangers on like Cameron and Pickering and possibly Bernardi (if he can get over the shock), but also the One Notion political party, which has just replaced the Nationals as first choice in a preference deal with the Liberals in the Western Australian election.
We all need to ‘know how their food was produced and where it has come from’, so I applaud halal labeling. We beekeepers have been asking for imported honey to be identified for ages!