AN APOLOGY TO ALL
By Ian Wishart
It seems ironic that the day after the Richard Prosser controversy broke, so did my laptop. Now, armed with a new machine and files finally transferred across, I can turn attention to the outstanding matter of Investigate magazine’s position on the ‘Wogistan’ affair.
How did it happen?
Very good question. As editor, it turns out I was asleep at the wheel just when the ingredients of a perfect editorial storm were assembling.
Richard had worked late into the night to prepare his regular column. He finally fired it through on the very morning that the magazine was going to press. As a regular contributor who has always sent in word perfect copy that never needed correction for punctuation or spelling, Richard’s late copy arrival saw me essentially forwarding on his column to our design team immediately largely unread bar a light skim to check for paragraph breaks.
Had the word ‘Wogistan’ bounced out and hit me, I would have noticed, but sadly I overlooked it, and the suggestion of banning all young Muslims from planes.
When I was later alerted by media to the detail of the column, there was a Homer Simpson ‘doh’ moment.
Richard uses hyperbole to make a point in his columns, and Investigate readers are used to that. To me, the idea of a blanket ban on Muslims or people who “look like Muslims” from air travel is so ridiculous that I regard it as a tongue-in-cheek comment to provoke debate, not a serious policy position. I know from talking to Richard since that he agrees his wider point – profiling air travellers – was lost in the loose language and concepts he espoused in the column.
The use of Wogistan – a euphemism for a mythical middle-eastern country as first used by the National Business Review in the 1990s – was unfortunate, because it turned the debate into a racial one even though Islam is a religion, not a race. Had Richard talked of Islamist Wahhabi ‘troglodytes from Waziristan’ – an actual place, he’d probably have been on safer ground.
Had I read the article properly when I had the opportunity, I’d have called Richard and the country would have been none the wiser. Because Investigate doesn’t see the Islamist problem in race terms, nor in this day and age can one define a Muslim on appearance. The guys who flew the jets into the twin towers dressed like Westerners, and more than a few genuine Westerners were caught in Afghanistan fighting on behalf of the Taliban. The annoying problem with asymmetric terrorism is that we genuinely don’t know whether the person sitting next to us on the bus is a threat or not.
Having said that, the likelihood of 85 year old women from Idaho having C4 plastic explosive strapped inside their girdles is so bizarre that the Homeland Security goons who manhandle such passengers and treat them like potential suicide bombers should be taken aside and given a good slapping to instil commonsense.
At Investigate, we have always maintained an editorial position of not imposing our own politics and beliefs on our columnists. The magazine has carried a range of diverse voices over the years, and it would be a very boring publication if it was entirely the creation of Ian Wishart alone. We do publish the views of people we agree and disagree with, and the magazine carries a note at the front that the opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Investigate.
Richard’s main point – about the billions spent on homeland security because of the actions of Wahhabist extremists – is a valid one. The way he tried to make his point, however, was not. Like many other opinion writers, he interviewed his typewriter keyboard late at night in the heat of the moment and got a dud answer. All journalists make mistakes like that from time to time, but Richard Prosser is also an MP and is held by his colleagues to a different standard than mere columnist.
Normally in the editorial process, such things are picked up and are dealt with. In this case, my oversight let both Prosser down and the country as a whole. For that, I too apologise – firstly to New Zealand’s Muslim community, who must be feeling more than a little slighted at an unintended broadside. That apology goes also to the Sikh, Hindu, Asian, Mediterranean and Maori communities – any of who might also fit the “looks like” definition.
I have made the point repeatedly in this magazine previously that a distinction can be drawn between ordinary Muslim New Zealanders and the firebrand extremists. Indeed, it is moderate Muslims in this country who have repeatedly tipped off Investigate about the activities of the extremists in their midst.
Those extremists are, as Prosser said, “troglodytes”. Thus it was with a sense of disbelief that I listened to Federation of Islamic Associations of NZ spokesman Dr Anwar Ghani laying into Richard Prosser. Disbelief, because FIANZ has repeatedly invited extremist “troglodytes” over to preach in New Zealand mosques.
Examples, you ask?
To this day, the FIANZ website proudly displays a photo of guest preacher Dr Bilal Philips. This is a man quoted by the Washington Post as saying: “The clash of civilizations is a reality. Western culture led by the United States is an enemy of Islam.” This is a man who was covertly filmed by a British Channel 4 documentary crew telling Muslim men it was OK to partner up with young girls because the prophet Muhammed had married a nine year old girl:
“The prophet Muhammad practically outlined the rules regarding marriage prior to puberty, with his practice he clarified what is permissible and that is why we shouldn’t have any issues about an older man marrying a younger woman, which is looked down upon by this [Western] society today, but we know that Prophet Muhammad practiced it, it wasn’t abuse or exploitation, it was marriage.”
Dr Philips has also been linked publicly to Islamic terrorist groups. Yet he was a guest speaker in NZ mosques. As I said in my National Radio Morning Report interview with Simon Mercep, he’s an example of the type of “troglodyte” that Prosser was talking about, yet National Radio have never questioned FIANZ about why preachers of hate have been coming here.
Sheikh Khalid Yasin is another hate preacher popular in NZ mosques. He is on the record saying women will never be allowed to be equal with men:
“This whole delusion of the equality of women is a bunch of foolishness…There’s no such thing.”
While ordinary New Zealanders and their political leaders have this week bent over backwards to show FIANZ the love, sadly New Zealand mosques have endorsed men like Yasin who say:
“There’s no such thing as a Muslim having a non-Muslim friend…If you prefer the clothing of the kafirs [infidels] over the clothing of the Muslims, most of those names that’s on most of those clothings [sic] is faggots, homosexuals and lesbians.”
There are many more such quotes from many more such invited hate preachers, and you can read their comments on the InvestigateDaily website here http://www.investigatemagazine.co.nz/Investigate/?p=3256
If you wish to hear Yasin rubbishing the idea of “moderate” Islam firsthand, watch the video here:
Regardless of how the daily media and the politicians want to spin it, there is an elephant in the room and it is this: despite the best intentions of moderate Muslims, their mosques here are increasingly coming under the influence of extremists. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is spending billions worldwide to spread the Wahhabi strain of fundamentalist Islam into Western mosques. Just look at Saudi Arabia’s intellectual stranglehold over Dr Anwar Ghani’s FIANZ in its educational advisors list:
Islamic Educational Institutions
Al Azhar University, Cairo, Egypt
Imam Mohammed Bin Saud University, Riyadh, K.S.A.
Institute of Islamic Thought, U.S.A.
Institute of Muslim Minority, U.K.
International Islamic University, Malaysia
International Islamic University, Pakistan
Islamic University, Madinah, K.S.A.
King Abdul Aziz University, Jeddah, K.S.A.
Muslim Educational Trust, U.K.
The Islamic Foundation, U.K.
Umm al-Qura University, Makkah al Mukarrama K.S.A.
FIANZ proudly boasts of its links to the World Assembly of Muslim Youth in Saudi Arabia, despite Investigate and the BBC revealing several years ago that WAMY is an al-Qa’ida front.
I’ve apologised, but I think New Zealanders deserve a much better explanation from Dr Anwar Ghani and FIANZ over that organisation’s proven links to troglodyte preachers, terror organisations and funding from Saudi extremists.
Will the daily media hold FIANZ to account? Don’t hold your breath.