Media Statement, Australian Christians:
If The Weekend Australian is right and ‘Failure to condemn fuels anti-Semitism’ then we had better be free to condemn rather than reinforce bullies who hide behind a veil of religious protection. The picture featured in this article of the little girl holding the placard with the swastika calling for ‘more than before’ for Jews was not taken this weekend, but at a Pro-Palestinian Rally outside Melbourne’s State Library 18 January 2009. This stuff has been brewing in Australia for years.
The picture captures the problem with ‘cutting out’ rather than condemning. The mother of the child who instructed her to hold the anti-Semitic placard has been cut from the picture featured in The Weekend Australian. She could not be condemned and could not be prosecuted under Victoria’s Racial Vilification laws simply because she could not be identified under her niqab – or face covering. While this women’s hatred is safe under her face veil and she is free from condemnation, those calling for greater transparency and the removal of face veils are condemned as bigots by many supporters of 18C.
The truth is, despite the introduction of hate laws in Europe, anti-Semitism is on the rise. ‘Hate laws’ are not having the desired effect of reducing actual hate crimes and may be fueling the fire.
Valls, the French prime minister, has acknowledged a "new", "normalised" antisemitism that he says blends "the Palestinian cause, jihadism, the devastation of Israel, and hatred of France and its values".
If this is happening in Europe, should we be so naive to think the same recipe is not brewing in Australia?
Australian Christians Victorian State Director Vickie Janson has witnessed this chilling new face of anti-Semitism first hand in Melbourne meetings over a number of years where the same message on the placard has been repeated. Janson has:
- Witnessed a crowd warming ‘joke’ about ‘blowing up Jews’ to introduce a Palestinian speaker in a public meeting in the Melbourne University that resulted in a loud round of ‘Allah Akbar’ by the brothers
- Identified ‘Sixth –pillar’ T-shirts being worn by Sydney protestors in response to a movie that offended them (the ‘sixth –pillar’ being understood by Islamists as ‘jihad’)
- Heard a Melbourne group inquire about the legitimacy of suicide bombing and be taught by a visiting Sheik that ‘there are two schools of thought and both are valid’
- Attended the annual Hizb ut-Tahrir conference in Sydney that promoted the ‘over turn of democracy and implementation of the Islamic state’ - ie the rejection of Australian values
Janson says, ‘perhaps my comments may “offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate”, but should we cut them out and condemn those who repeat them or those who authored them? Should use of literary styles that include stereotyping, hyperbole and humor be criminalized as ‘hate speech’ and communication narrowed even further? Should people be able to hide behind a veil of legal protection from confronting uncomfortable truths?’
Anti-Semitism is a horrible problem but we believe retaining 18C is not the way to address it. As this picture demonstrates, the law designed to protect the vulnerable may inadvertently protect those who reject freedom in favor of bigotry. This is why Australian Christians support its repeal.
Australian Christians is a federal political party with the goal of representing the values and concerns of the 2.7 million Christian Australians who attend church once a month or more, and others who identify with these values and human rights concerns.
Vickie Janson, Victorian State Director
M: 0411 298 464