Many on the left and in the Islamic community seem to be more outraged about a possibly fake Sheikh preaching peace than many very real Sheikhs preaching intolerance and Islamism. Sad.
Last night, “A Current Affair” program had a look at Imam Mohammed Tawhidi, a Shia cleric from Adelaide, who catapulted to media and social media prominence through his uncompromising stance against terrorism, radicalism and Sharia, and in favour of peace, tolerance, patriotism and assimilation (you can watch the whole segment here).
Now, I don’t know whether Tawhidi is a real cleric or not. Islam, unlike Catholicism or many mainstream Protestant churches, is a very decentralised religion, without a well-defined religious hierarchy. For all I know, he might be a fantasist, or a Borat-like figure. He is certainly more popular online than with any actual congregation of his co-religionists.
But to me it doesn’t matter. He is doing a far better job at inter-faith relations than any other Muslim cleric, and is presenting a much better public face of his religion than so many in the Australian Muslim establishment who spout platitudes in English (if they speak it at all) while in their own language and to their own people harangue against homosexuals, Jews and infidels. You want to bring Islam out of the Middle Ages and into enlightenment and modernity? Clone Tawhidi.
I find it particularly depressing to contemplate the number of people, both within and outside the Muslim community, who want to discredit him and run him out of town. At worst, Tawhidi is a shameless self-promoter and a bit of grandstander, but to too many his claim that Islam indeed needs reform and that Islamism is a threat to both Muslims and the West is far more dangerous and offensive than, well, Islamism itself. Instead of celebrating this most moderate of clerics, there is now an active witch-hunt against him. We could only wish that the “community figures” directed as much venom at those who sympathise with terrorism as they do at the man who unequivocally condemns it.
Imagine the media taking an interest and investigating any other religious figure to establish whether they are “real” or not, in the context where that religious figure is not accused of any criminal or otherwise inappropriate behaviour, and instead spends his time advocating against terrorism and hatred, and for understanding, peace and tolerance. It’s ridiculous. And it’s almost shameful.
If you are not familiar with Tawhidi, here is a selection of his recent tweets. Have a read and tell me why he is such a menace as to be under constant attack (often physical) and be hounded out of Australia by too many in the Muslim community, aided by their media and left cheerleaders (but I repeat myself):
This man is clearly a dangerous extremist and brings religion into disrepute. He must be stopped!