Guilty Until Proven Innocent: How The Anti Halal Movement Judges Muslims

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If you want to keep up to date with the latest twists and turns of the anti-halal movement you’ve got to keep a keen eye peeled.

Those pushing the movement, who are now being embraced by members of the government (I’m looking at you, Cory and George), are fond of making bold, public accusations.

But like their friends in the anti-Islamic blogosphere, they’re not always the best as ensuring their uproarious objections are well founded in fact, and spectacular claims are liable to suddenly disappear.

In one recent example, a series of pages conducted a witch-hunt for the person who burned an Australian flag at a counter Reclaim Australia rally.

An Aboriginal group claimed responsibility for it, but it didn’t stop the pages sending a lynch mob after a hairdresser in Brisbane.

The pages quietly withdrew the allegations later, but not before the Brisbane man had been inundated with threats of violence and rape – and told his dog Ardy would be set on fire as a reprisal for his alleged act of desecration.

Another popular page claimed the Germanwings pilot who flew Flight 9525 into the side of the French Alps last month was a Muslim, and published a photo of police visiting his ‘mosque’. It was actually just his house.

The pilot’s name, Andreas Lubitz, apparently failed to prompt them to question the authenticity of the claim.

Today, the Herald reports another sensational allegation has been quietly withdrawn.

A triumphant post on the Boycott Halal In Australia page announced yet another conspiracy had been unearthed.

Wine producer Jacob’s Creek had been busted getting its wine certified, despite the fact it is self-evidently haram (that is, impermissible for Muslims to consume).

From the Boycott Halal In Australia Facebook Page.

Accusations of this kind draw their fury from arguments made by the likes of Kirralie Smith, one of the anti-halal movements most prominent and presentable faces.

In their efforts to present halal certification as a scam, Smith and co argue products that Muslims are obviously not permitted to eat, for instance those with pork or alcohol content, are being certified. The implication is that nefarious opportunists are using the halal process as an excuse to extort money from businesses. Smith literally compares these people to the mafia.

When I spoke to Reclaim Australia spokesperson John Oliver last week, he was happy to argue openly that halal certification involved a global shakedown of some of the world’s largest corporations at the hands of Islamic certification bodies. He admitted he wasn’t an expert.

Despite their considerable following, Boycott Halal In Australia are not exactly experts either.

The most basic of fact checking quickly revealed the Jacob’s Creek story contained not a drop of truth.

In a Facebook post the company clarified its wine is not halal.

 

Hi guys, today we've had a lot of questions about Halal certification. We can confirm that our wines are not suitable…

Posted by Jacob's Creek on Thursday, 9 April 2015

No big surprises there.

After triggering a stampede of complaints and sending their backers to harangue the company senseless, Boycott Halal In Australia quietly pulled the post.

As I found when I talked to them for a story last year, their view on evidence is that its absence shouldn’t necessarily undermine a good theory.

In a back and forward on Facebook messenger they outlined their objections to halal and then added:

“There is also the issue of where all this halal money goes. Investigation in Quebec and France has revealed that Halal Charities are funding terrorist groups eg. Hamas – we have full details and will continue to investigate and expose the money trail. We understand that the Australian Government is also investing $Millions in investigating where the halal money goes as well…”

I pushed them on Australia: do you have evidence any halal certifiers have provided funds from the process to terrorist organisations?

“The Australian Crime Commission has foiled an international narco-trafficking and money laundering scheme involving 18 organized groups and 40 separate money laundering operations. “Project Eligo” has resulted in 105 arrests, 190 criminal charges, and over $500 million in assets seized so far. Drug money bust reveals Hezbollah’s control February 3, 2014.”

That actually seemed promising.

So I asked the ACC about project Eligo.

“The task force has identified direct links between serious and organised, money laundering and terrorism funding. However, the Australian Crime Commission is not aware of any direct links between the legitimate Halal certification industry and money laundering or the financing of terrorist groups.”

Ah.

ABC Fact Check reported today that the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre said much the same, as did other experts.

I went back to Boycott Halal and our blossoming friendship started to wilt.

“Do your own research like we have or just wait and see what we release,” they said. Then:

“Max – I have no time to waste – You do your own research like we have.
Good bye.”

Given they have over 75,000 followers on Facebook they probably won’t miss me too much.

Bizarrely, the page today posted a link to the ABC Fact Check article as evidence of their case.

What’s fascinating about the page, their movement, and the creeping number of politicians backing their cause, is that is it founded and predicated on the absence of evidence. They openly admit it isn’t quite there but remain confident a smoking gun moment is just around the corner.

It’s an ideological disposition desperately searching for a piece of evidence to cling to. When you sift through the claims the movement makes you’re left with nothing more than an assumption that all Muslim practices are suspect until proven innocent.

The hysterical cries contrast the observations of those who are experts.

As the University of Sydney’s Dr Ghena Krayem recently put it to me: “They need to be sure their position is an informed position. It doesn’t mean they need to agree with Muslims, but they need to be more informed than the current level of public discourse.”

New Matilda

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