Tim Blair


New Criterion



Monday, February 03, 2003

The Australian's Media supplement is a rare beast among supplements. It does in fact supplement what the main news sections offer with information and comment on matters of public importance.

The January 23 issue, now invisible on the Australian's website, covers the politics behind the short life, to date, of Muslim community broadcast station 2mfm, now broadcasting to an audience the Australian estimates at 50 000.

The president of 2mfm, Mohammed Mehio, tells us "We believe Osama bin Laden is an extremist and should not be a role model for any Muslim. But some people were not impressed with these views."

Among those unimpressed with 2mfm is our old friend and ethnic vilifier, Mr Keysar Trad, spokesman for the Imam of the Lakemba Mosque, hangout of the Lebanese Muslim Association. Trad says they're not representative.

Trad's boss, Mufti al Hilali, is blunter. "These people don't like their fellow Muslims and have attacked respected Muslim scholars". I wonder who he's talking about.

According to Mehio, the attacks date back to "defamatory" remarks he, Mehio, made during the licence hearings about a couple of obscure scholars. He called them "extremists".

And the targets of Mehio's attack? One Osama bin Laden and a Sayed Qutb. Beyond criticism as far as the Lakemba Mosque is concerned.

We've heard of bin Laden since as the operator of airliners that don't bother to land on their wheels.

Qutb, apart from being vowel-challenged, is one of bin Laden's spiritual and political guides.

This is how the BBC described Qutb's contribution to modern Islamism and its politicised version of Jihad.

In the 1950s Sayed Qutb, a prominent member of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, took the arguments of al-Banna and Maududi [who advocated jihad against imperial powers] a stage further.

For Qutb, all non-Muslims were infidels - even the so-called "people of the book", the Christians and Jews - and he predicted an eventual clash of civilisations between Islam and the west.

Qutb was executed by Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1966.

According to Dr Azzam Tamimi, director of the Institute of Islamic Political Thought in London, Qutb's writings in response to Nasser's persecution of the Muslim Brotherhood, "acquired wide acceptance throughout the Arab world, especially after his execution and more so following the defeat of the Arabs in the 1967 war with Israel".

Qutb and Maududi inspired a whole generation of Islamists, including Ayatollah Khomeini, who developed a Persian version of their works in the 1970s.

The works of al-Banna, Qutb and Maududi were also to become the main sources of reference for the Arabs who fought alongside the Afghan mujahideen in the 1980s.

One of these was the Palestinian scholar, Abdullah Azzam, who had fought with the PLO in the 1970s but became disillusioned with the Palestinian leadership because of its secular outlook.

Azzam studied Islamic law at Cairo's Al-Azhar, where he met the family of Sayed Qutb, and went on to teach at university in Saudi Arabia, where one of his students was Osama Bin Laden

And so to Afghanistan, then the world.

When a man has heroes like these, you'd want to check him for hardware before getting too close.