Radicals make the most noise, but so do empty vessels

Extreme viewpoints exist only as long as we give them a platform.

As we approach the 10th anniversary of September 11, some uncomfortable questions continue to be asked about Islam and terrorism. For the most part, this is a red herring. Muslims have been living in Australia for more than a century. The problem of terrorism has only emerged in the past decade. That in itself should tell us something. No reasonable person can argue that Muslims are terrorists, or that they want to Islamise Australia. That's just laughable, when we note that Muslim migrants have fled regimes of state suppression, often justified in the name of Islam. In Australia, Muslims find the freedom to be themselves without fear of persecution. That's why Australian Muslims are among the most loyal citizens of this country.

But unfortunately the issue is muddied by some radical individuals on the fringe whose number is plainly insignificant, but are vocal enough to be interviewed on national television. It seems sensational stories help ratings and sell papers, and radical Islamists are certainly sensational in their views. The most recent story has focused on the adoption of Islamic law (sharia for short) and ''Islamising'' Australia.

Islamising Australia is an absurd idea, put forward by a few converts or born-again Muslims who think they have found Allah, while the rest of the Muslim community is still grappling in the darkness of ignorance. This is a marginal view that breaks with the Muslim community. Last month a visiting Islamic scholar at Melbourne University put the case for loyalty to Australia in no uncertain terms: Muslims enjoy every right and every protection for their life, property and beliefs as any other citizen. Muslims can build mosques and schools, have halal meat, perform pilgrimage to Mecca and pay their religious tax as donation. They have every freedom they could imagine to live in accordance with their religion. What could be better? Shaykh ul-Islam Qadri asked. None of the so-called Islamic states provide this level of freedom for Muslims. Qadri, who has practised and taught Islamic law in Pakistan, went on to argue that the Australian system is the closest to an Islamic state that Muslims could hope for. Such endorsement is hard to beat when it is presented by a professor of Islamic jurisprudence, who has published a 400-page edict (fatwa) on the prohibition of terrorism and suicide bombings in Islam. His bold statement was greeted by the applause of more than 400 people in the theatre.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/radicals-make-the-m...