Price tangled with a guest who made a comparison that didn’t sit well with the conservative shock jock. Max Chalmers reports.
It seemed such safe ground for Steve Price.
Beating up Hizb ut-Tahrir has been a favoured past-time for conservative columnists and media personalities in recent years, and a strange mutually-beneficial dynamic has developed between the group and those who ostensibly demand their demise.
A right wing columnist, and perhaps even a right wing Prime Minister, will draw them to public attention, and a spokesperson from the group can be relied upon to respond in kind and make a scene.
Everyone wins. Hizb ut-Tahrir get a platform – and look all the more reasonable thanks to the ill-informed attacks levelled against them – while right wing columnists get to dog whistle about multiculturalism by pointing to a relatively isolated group with an extreme position.
That, more or less, is what Irfan Yusuf told Steve Price last night, when the shock jock and regular on Channel Ten’s The Project attempted to grill the journalist and former Liberal candidate on Hizb ut-Tahrir’s description of forced national anthem singing as ‘assimilation’.
Yusuf started off by correcting Project host Hugh Riminton, who asked him how much support the group had in the Muslim community.
“Well I guess it’s hard to talk about the Muslim community. You’re better off talking about Muslim communities, because there are so many people from so many different countries that we’re talking about,” he said, before pointing out the Hizb ut-Tahrir event drew only around 800, compared to the tens of thousands who turn out to mainstream Islamic community events.
Pushed by Price on the pressing question of the national anthem and schools, Yusuf kept a straight face, with only the slightest hint of cheekiness buried deep in his expression.
He said he didn’t agree with Hizb ut-Tahrir’s positions and then broke off.
“…There are columnists for News Corp that believe that people must be forced to sing the national anthem…”
Price interrupted and they went back and forward until Price brought up the remark again.
Then Yusuf went in.
“If I were to compare Hizb ut-Tahrir to anyone in Australia – in the mainstream – I would compare them to Andrew Bolt.”
Price lost it.
“That is absolute rubbish. That is ABSOLUTE rubbish,” he said.
Now Yusuf was openly smiling. He might have been taking the infuriated shock jock for a ride, but the comparison he raises is hard to pass up. Both Bolt and Hizb ut-Tahrir trade off their controversy, using the anger of their supposed ideological opponents to boost their visibility. Both have a questionable history of comments on racial discrimination. Both get more airtime then they probably deserve. They need each other.
“This is an organisation that has been banned in at least four countries as a terrorist organisation, and you’re comparing them to Andrew Bolt” Price said.
“Big deal. They’ve been banned in Uzbekistan,” Yusuf coolly retorted.
Price was fuming.
To watch the full interaction, skip to 27:47 on the video below.
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