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Paul can regularly be read in the mainstream press

MOCKERY OF ISLAM CANNOT BE FORBIDDEN

By | Islam, Opinion pieces for the press, Religion | No Comments

  Last Monday, British journalist and broadcaster Douglas Murray, author of the satirical pamphlet Islamophilia, blogged that far from being something that should be frowned upon, mockery of Islam is a much needed antidote to its excessive severity and overweening claims to be taken seriously. He has a point that merits, dare I say it, serious thought. His remark was all the more notable because it was made in response to the assertion by Mohammed Shafiq that ‘our faith is not to be mocked’. Shafiq heads a body called the Ramadhan Foundation, in Manchester, has spoken out against extremism and…

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ISIS AND THE PATHOLOGY OF ISLAM

By | Book reviews for the press, Islam | No Comments

  Robert Manne The Mind of the Islamic State (Redback, 2016) and other recent writings on Islam, jihad and the wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan The literature on the chaos in the Middle East, on Islam, jihad and terrorism is vast. The recrimination, conspiracy theory and angry rhetoric that swirl around it threaten to spiral out of control. It is vital, therefore, that we find a way through without losing our bearings. Robert Manne has just produced a beautifully crafted and lucid book on this problem. It deserves a very wide readership. I read The Mind of the…

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A SPLENDID PAEAN TO ART AND DISSENT

By | Book reviews for the press, China, History | No Comments

Over the past half dozen years, at least three journalists of Australian origin or based in Australia have written first class books about contemporary China. The first was Richard McGregor, in 2010. The second was Rowan Callick, in 2013. The third is Madeleine O’Dea, this year. O’Dea’s is easily as good as the other two and completely trumps (if one can now comfortably use that verb) all mealy mouthed apologetics for the repressive China of Xi Jinping. McGregor’s The Party: The Secret World of China’s Communist Rulers was a brilliantly incisive expose of the huge Communist Mafia that holds the…

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WE MUST CHAMPION APOSTASY FROM ISLAM

By | Islam, Opinion pieces for the press, Religion, Terrorism | No Comments

  About six weeks ago, in a televised address during Ramadan, the leading Muslim cleric in Egypt, Ahmed al-Tayeb, Grand Imam of al-Azhar University in Cairo, who is hailed as one of the leading ‘moderate’ teachers in the Islamic world, denounced apostasy from Islam as ‘grand treason’. He stated categorically: ‘Those learned in Islam and the imams of the four schools of jurisprudence consider apostasy a crime and agree that the apostate must either renounce his apostasy or else be killed.’ This prominent cleric has been a critic of ISIS, of Salafist radicals and of the Muslim Brotherhood. He was…

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TURKEY’S PURGES: REICHSTAG FIRE PRETEXT OR DEFENCE OF DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS?

By | Critical Essays, Geopolitics, Islam | No Comments

  On the night of 15-16 July, there was what appeared to be an unexpected and badly bungled attempted coup d’état in Turkey. Over 200 people lost their lives in the violence. The Erdogan government swiftly exerted complete control and began arresting or standing down an astounding number of military officers, policemen, judges, civil servants and, most mysteriously of all, school teachers and academics. Some 2,000 of those arrested were accused only of having ‘insulted’ Erdogan. Almost none of this makes sense. There was no build-up of tensions suggesting a possible coup. Allegations by the Erdogan government that it had…

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ERDOGAN’S CRACKDOWN IS DEEPLY DISTURBING

By | Geopolitics, Human Rights, Opinion pieces for the press, Turkey | No Comments

There is something deeply disturbing about the direction in which Recip Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party are taking Turkey. Writing in this newspaper last week, John Lyons compared the sweeping purges to McCarthyism in the United States, in the 1950s. That was altogether the wrong analogy. The scale and arbitrariness of what is happening are, rather, akin to Hitler’s state of emergency after the Reichstag fire in 1933, or Stalin’s reaction to the assassination of Sergei Kirov in 1934, than to the United States in the 1950s. There is also an analogy with the Islamist revolution in…

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VOLTAIRE WOULD HAVE BEEN HOUNDED FOR HIS MAHOMET

By | Islam, Opinion pieces for the press, Religion, Terrorism | No Comments

On 23 July, Waleed Aly will be presented with the Voltaire Award for free speech from Liberty Victoria. It would be rather charming were he to give a speech on that occasion reflecting on Voltaire’s play Mahomet, which depicted Islam as based on false miracles, personal ambition and ruthless fanaticism. Aly has for some time been the go to person for commentary on Islam and avoiding what is widely dubbed ‘Islamophobia’. It is safe to say he does not share Voltaire’s assessment of Islam. Yet Voltaire remains a figure for our time and free speech on the subject of Islam…

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THE MYTH OF A COSMOPOLITAN ANDALUSIA

By | Book reviews for the press, History, Islam | No Comments

There is a widely held belief that in Spain, during the European Middle Ages, Islam, Christianity and Judaism co-existed peacefully and fruitfully under a tolerant and enlightened Islamic hegemony. Dario Fernandez-Morera, associate professor of Spanish and Portuguese at Northwestern University, with a PhD from Harvard, has written a stunning book which upends this myth. It is comforting and even inspiring story that has been drawn upon to underpin the so-called ‘Toledo Principles’ regarding religious toleration in our time – an important point of reference. It has been used to suggest that Islam was a higher civilization than that of medieval…

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BRING THE COOK REPORT OUT FROM THE WILDERNESS OF MIRRORS

By | Defence, Intelligence, Opinion pieces for the press | No Comments

  Last Saturday’s Inquirer story about Paul Dibb’s annoyance at the innuendo that has swirled around him for decades and that security investigations into his bona fides were held at all was both fascinating and important. He was cleared by all investigations, he reveals, including the 1994 Cook Report. This is news. I have called for years for the release of the Cook Report precisely so that we can finally be clear where suspicions were confirmed and where they were dispelled and, in each case, on what grounds. Dibb’s important story is another illustration of why we need the Cook…

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MAO ZEDONG WAS THE FULL CATASTROPHE IN CHINA

By | Book reviews for the press, China, Geopolitics | No Comments

With The Cultural Revolution: A People’s History (2016), Frank Dikotter completes a trilogy on the catastrophic impact that Mao Zedong and his Communist Party inflicted on China between their seizure of power in 1949 and Mao’s death in 1976. The first volume in the trilogy chronologically, though it was written second, was The Tragedy of Liberation: A History of the Chinese Revolution 1945-57 (2013). It covers the civil war, the seizure of power, the mass terror campaigns that accompanied and followed that seizure of power, the vaunted Marxist-Leninist nationalization of the means of production, distribution and exchange and the crushing…

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