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Monday, 30 October 2006
Page: 127

Mrs MIRABELLA (9:24 PM) —I rise this evening to speak on an issue very close to my heart, and that is the need to stand up for who we are as a nation and the need to say no to men who use any excuse for rape—the need to say no to Sheikh al-Hilali. I say to the sheikh: you are not always misinterpreted. You were properly interpreted when you criticised the Jews; you have been properly interpreted when you have criticised women over the last couple of decades. No amount of backtracking, no amount of excuse making will cover up the fact that you have given an excuse to all rapists to say that this woman was not adequately covered.

We live in the 21st century; women can wear what they like. You may question their taste and you may not like the style of their clothing but they have a right to wear what they like without some perverted, medieval attitude of some so-called sheikh giving the excuse that Western style coverings should lay women open to some sort of sexual abuse. This is disgraceful and absolutely unacceptable.

Tonight we had the member for Scullin blaming the media for some reason for demonising Muslims. I say to the member for Scullin: give it up, mate. Where politicians in this House and outside fear to criticise any religious ideology or any ethnic way of thinking because they think they might lose votes, thank God we have a media that is not afraid to say it as it is. There is not enough of that in this House. What is telling is the silence of so many people. What is telling is the fact that the Muslim community is divided and silent in its criticism of the sheikh. Can it get any clearer? I have been very vocal in my views. I do not accept the view that a five-year-old girl needs to cover herself so that she does not sexually incite men. That is disgusting. These are the attitudes that belonged to centuries ago. They do not belong in the world of today and they certainly do not belong to Australia.

Also what is quite deafening is the silence of the Labor sisterhood. We have seen this before. They were not there to criticise the former Labor leader when he called a female journalist a skanky ho and they were not there to defend Australian womanhood against this slur and very dangerous incitement. Why? It is because they are not prepared to look at the best interests of Australia, Australian women and Australian society. Their factions come first and woe betide their preselection if they happen to upset some factional warlord who relies on some sort of ethnic or Muslim stacking. That is what they fear more and it prevents them from standing up for what is right.

We have known for years that former Prime Minister Keating and Leo McLeay exerted pressure to incorrectly and falsely give Sheikh al-Hilali residency and then citizenship in this country. And now we are more or less, unless the law changes, stuck with this man who has not value added any understanding of any religious system or value system but keeps on blaming the rest of us for misunderstanding him. We did not misunderstand him when he called S11 ‘God’s work against the oppressors’ and we certainly have not misunderstood him calling all of us women ‘meat’ just because we do not grab a huge sheet and wrap ourselves as if we should be ashamed of the bodies that God gave us.

We are not going to stand by and let this man get away with it. There needs to be an end to cultural relativism. Australia cannot keep making excuses for this man and his views. There can be no excuse for rape. He said that Australia is a multicultural country and everyone can do what they like. No, they cannot. There are basic laws that apply to all Australians and one Australian legal system should apply to every single Australian whether they be atheist, Christian or Muslim. On behalf of not just the women in my electorate but all Australian women I reject these comments that he has made. I will not cease criticising this man until the women in the Labor Party stand up for what is right and until those in the Muslim community stand up and reject his teachings. (Time expired)