Tonight, Four Corners ran a program about Halal certification. As part of its investigation the founder of a christian organisation called Halal Choices was interviewed. She presented herself as a christian worker in African countries and Indonesia.
Without feeling the need to give credible arguments she and many other individuals made anti-Islamic comments. My Jewish doctor whom I consulted this morning, and I compared our experiences as refugees. It is one that repeats cyclically; the established culture often seems to be comfortable rejecting newcomers. As a hippy in the 1970’s I used 3 Indonesian coins with square holes in the centre for divination; the writing was Chinese on one side and Arabic on the other. My Indonesian T’ai Chi teacher described them as the two most vigorous mercantile cultures in this region. So as far as recent Australian history or South East Asian history are concerned, both cultures have a substantial presence.
I have visited several Arabic countries; I would encourage people from those areas to take great pride in their cultures; further more as recent citizens they have a great deal to contribute to the mixture that is contemporary Australian culture.
By contrast, what I feel it necessary to say about the anglo-Australian critics of Halal is their inability to assemble the convincing structure of a mature argument. Further more, what disconcerts me is the spectacle of yet another christian unwilling to take seriously a central tenet of their faith: Jesus Christ declared the importance of not judging others. He said this often and earnestly. Why do christians ignore the importance of this? Is there an amount of self satisfaction generated that in turn creates spiritual blindness?
At one point, one Halal organisation in Melbourne admitted to funding the building of an Islamic school from profits generated by Halal certification; the vehemence with which the spokesperson of Halal Choices criticised this event was disturbing. She had not proved that these profits were going to encouraging religious extremism. As the owner/producer of Madura tea said, attaching halal certification to the packets of his product was a negligible annual cost; private schools hold various events to generate income to maintain their organisations. And who in the Australian community at large would begrudge moslems developing an educational structure?
I read Tea Party statements daily from the USA against same sex marriage; specifically the Kim Davis situation, which has merely proved that ours is a secular society, and does not forbid religious practise, but merely directs it be conducted in specific areas that do not inconvenience others. Similarly, a young moslem woman wants to make a career in the west as an air hostess, but wants her employer to exempt her from serving alcohol which is forbidden. To my mind, if she cannot be employed in an area where this function is not required of her, she should look for another type of employment.