News Corp senior writer Sharri Markson has whipped up a brand new scare campaign against Muslims based on the practice of toddlers wearing hijabs.
Still, it’s not every day that you see 50,000 Muslims performing their Eid prayers on Haldon Street, Lakemba. Mostly these are the people who don’t turn up to the mosque at any other time of year. This year, The Australian sent its senior writer Sharri Markson to cover the event. In one report, she advised that
... toddlers have begun wearing the hijab as Australian Muslims follow a global trend of younger children covering their hair.
Did you read that, punters? A global trend. That’s a bold claim to make. To establish such a trend, you’d need to do a huge quantitative and qualitative study across not just the 180-plus ethnicities that make up Australian Muslims but also Muslims across the planet, including the 20%-plus of Muslims living as minorities in everywhere from India to Taiwan to our cousins across the dutch.
Did Markson ask some women about this? There were 50,000 people there, and my guess is at least one-quarter would have been women. On unfairly conservative estimates, perhaps half would have spoken English as their first language. So Markson could have asked any one of 6250 women and girls.
She might well have, but not one is quoted in her story. She might have gone to any number of mosques in Sydney catering for other ethnic groups, including groups where women only cover their hair during the actual prayer time and/or when listening to the scripture being recited, not just for an hour or so after emerging from the mosque. She might have joined my parents at the Urdu-speaking mosque in Rooty Hill and sat with my mum and all the other south Asian women with their hair loose draped with translucent “dupatta“, which would quickly be removed as soon as the prayer was over.
But why would you do that when you can speak to Keysar Trad, a controversial imam and the former president of a peak body with a bombastic name? Interestingly, none of her sources confirmed Markson’s claim that Muslim toddlers and girls across the world are increasingly covering their hair.
In her other article, Markson was most disappointed that NSW Premier Mike Baird
... failed to condemn the community leader’s inflammatory remarks.
And what were the inflammatory remarks of the President of the Lebanese Muslim Association? Muslims felt under siege from Muslim-phobic politicians, felt vulnerable to bigotry and hatred and were subject to
... divisive and toxic policy decisions.
Gosh, how inflammatory can you get!
And worse still,
... [n]one addressed the issue of radicalisation, focusing instead on Islamophobia and racism.
Terrible. You’d think a Muslim leader would use the occasion of Eid to read out Andrew Bolt columns.
Being the awesome investigative reporter that she is, Markson wasn’t content:
“Mr Baird refused to condemn Mr Dandan’s remarks when contacted after the ceremony. ‘There were a number of other speakers but the Premier won’t be doing any commentary on their contributions,’ his spokesman said.
Asked why he spoke about racial vilification towards the Muslim community but did not use the opportunity in front of 40,000 people to discuss radicalisation or terrorism, Mr Baird’s spokesman said ‘there were many subjects the Premier did not mention in his remarks, which occupied less than three minutes’.”Seriously, one of the toddlers in a hijab or dupatta could have told Markson that.
First published in Crikey on 8 July 2016.