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Leaders abhor mag's negative Muslim stereotyping

RAM media release 19.4.07


Community leaders abhor magazine's 'negative stereotyping' of Muslims


The March 2007 edition of "Investigate" magazine carried a lengthy article by Ian Wishart which claimed that the New Zealand Muslim community is being infected by "Islamic extremism".

"Mr Wishart's 18-page rant is New Zealand's first full-on example of Islamophobic gutter journalism," said Grant Morgan, organiser of RAM ­ Residents Action Movement.

"The most basic fact is that nobody in the New Zealand Muslim community has ever been charged with any act of 'terrorism', let alone convicted. That puts the lie to his propaganda of fear, suspicion and hate."

"As the organiser of RAM, I was requested by a meeting of senior Muslim leaders in Auckland to pen a letter-in-reply to Mr Wishart's article," said Grant Morgan. "My letter has been co-signed by over 130 community leaders, the vast majority of them non-Muslim, who are equally disgusted at the article's contents."

These community leaders include:

• The mayor of Waitakere City.
• Five regional and city councillors.
• Many religious leaders from Christian, Muslim and other faiths.
• Top academics and lawyers.
• Senior trade union officials.
• Representatives of Maori and ethnic groups.
• Other leaders in the community.

"While more signatures are arriving all the time, I have today emailed our letter to Mr Wishart's magazine," said Grant Morgan.

"Will Mr Wishart have the integrity to publish it in full, along with the complete list of co-signatories, without appending the sort of conspiracy fantasies that he regularly attaches to critical letters under the guise of 'editorial comment'? That will be a test of his professed belief in freedom of speech."

For your information, the letter and its full list of co-signatories is printed below.

For more comment, contact:
Grant Morgan

--


Joint letter to editor of Investigate magazine


Negative stereotyping is not investigative journalism

Negative stereotyping of New Zealand Muslims. That was the real content of the 18-page article "Helen Hoodwinked by Preachers of Hate" written by Ian Wishart in the March 2007 edition of his Investigate magazine.

Wishart, who describes himself as a "social conservative", had previously labelled people in the peace movement as "extremists" and thereby tried to discredit the global majority who are opposed to George Bush's imperial crusade for oil and power.

A similar method was used in Wishart's article about our Muslim community. His article used the word "extremist" 34 times, "terror"/"terrorist"/"terrorism" 52 times, "suicide attacks/bombings" 13 times, "hate" 7 times, "al Qa'ida" 25 times, "Osama bin Laden" 10 times and "Wahhabism" (supposedly an "extreme" form of Islam) 20 times.

Alongside these negative labels he inserted the names of New Zealand Muslim groups and individuals, like the Federation of Islamic Associations of NZ (33 times), FIANZ president Javed Khan (21 times) and Al Manar (17 times).

Wishart is resorting to the trick of negative transference, where an express or implied association with "bad" people, groups and happenings is used to discredit a viewpoint, in this case Islam.

Here is the most basic fact: Nobody in the New Zealand Muslim community has ever been charged with any act of "terrorism", let alone convicted.

Yet this most basic fact isn't what Wishart wants to hear. Instead, his subtext is that all Muslims adhere to the same ideas, and from this absurd generalisation he attempts to link peaceful Muslims to violent extremists.

Let's use Wishart's absurd generalisation in another context. Because of the "ethnic cleansing" conducted by a faction of Serb Christians in the Bosnian conflict a few years ago, we must condemn as "terrorists" all Christians, including Wishart himself. But that, of course, would be crazy.

In the latest report by the NZ Security Intelligence Service, "local jihadis" are no longer considered a visible threat inside New Zealand. (See intelligence expert Paul G. Buchanan's informative article "A Change of Focus at the SIS" at http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0702/S00257.htm.)

At the very time that New Zealand's internal security agency finally comes to the realisation that chasing New Zealand Muslim "terrorists" is really silly, because they don't exist, Wishart starts a witch-hunt for this non-existent "threat".

You have to ask "Why?" And that brings us back to Wishart's "social conservative" ideology. His article poses 305 references to "Islam" and "Muslims" against 145 references to "New Zealand", "Western", "Christians" and "non-Muslims".

Wishart's subtext is clear: Muslims represent a danger to the values and beliefs of "mainstream New Zealand", to borrow Don Brash's ill-fated phrase. Therefore, instead of conducting a dialogue with New Zealand Muslims, the government should be ordering the security agencies to put local Muslims under severe state control and scrutiny.

This message of community division, which seems designed to pit non-Muslims against Muslims, and also to divide the ranks of Muslims and make them fearful, would of course suit a "social conservative" agenda.

Wishart's negative stereotyping is not investigative journalism, but rather a message of suspicion, fear and hate. It's a message that echoes the Islamophobic racism fuelled by George Bush's illegal invasion of Iraq and the US state's other armed attacks on peoples who stand in the way of American domination of our planet.

The positive alternative is for people across all New Zealand communities, including our Muslim sisters and brothers, to unite for peace, not war. This is a message of hope. On a global scale, it offers humanity a way out of imperial warfare and social injustice.


SIGNED (personal capacity):

• GRANT MORGAN, organiser of RAM ­ Residents Action Movement (Auckland)
• ROBYN HUGHES, RAM councillor on Auckland Regional Council (Manukau City electorate)
• BOB HARVEY, mayor of Waitakere City
• Bishop RICHARD RANDERSON, dean of Holy Trinity Cathedral, Parnell (Auckland)
• Ward
• PENNY HULSE, councillor on Waitakere City Council
• Dr. JOHN HINCHCLIFF, Auckland City councillor and former vice-chancellor & president of Auckland University of Technology
• CHRISTINE ROSE, Rodney District representative on Auckland Regional Council
• Dr. DAVID WILLIAMS, professor of law (Ranui)
• Reverend ANTHONY DANCER, social justice commissioner for the Anglican Church (Wellington)
• BARRY WILSON, president of Auckland Council for Civil Liberties
• JAVED KHAN, president of Federated Islamic Associations of New Zealand (Auckland)
• SUE BRADFORD, Green MP (Auckland)
• DAVID WONG, NZ Order of Merit, founding president of North Shore/Rodney Ethnic Council (Auckland)
• PAUL G. BUCHANAN, international security analyst (Auckland)
• Dr. JAMES LIU, deputy director of Centre for Applied Cross-Cultural Research (Wellington)
• BILL COOKE, vice-president of NZ Association of Rationalists & Humanists and senior lecturer at School of Visual Arts, Manukau Institute of Technology
• RAYMOND BRADLEY, emeritus professor of philosophy (Warkworth)
• ROBERT WHITE, director of Centre for Peace Studies at University of Auckland
• DAVID TUTTY, Auckland Catholic Justice & Peace Office
• MATT McCARTEN, national secretary of Unite Workers Union (Auckland)
• GUL ZAMAN, president of Auckland Indo-Fijian Association
• HEATHER MACKAY, deputy chair of Pakuranga Community Board
• ROGER FOWLER, QSM, manager of Mangere East Community Learning Centre (Auckland)
• MERE KEPA, transcultural educationalist (Auckland)
• MUSTAFA FAROUK, vice-president of Federated Islamic Associations of New Zealand (Hamilton)
• JOHN MINTO, spokesperson for Global Peace & Justice Auckland
• CAMPBELL DUIGNAN, southern regional secretary of Service & Food Workers Union/Nga Ringa Tota (Dunedin)
• HAIDER LONE, executive member of NZ Muslim Association (Auckland)
• SHAUN DAVISON, regional chair of Post Primary Teachers Association (Whangarei)
• Reverend MUA STRICKSON-PUA, chaplain, community worker & Pasifika development tutor (Auckland)
• OMAR FAHMY, president of New Zealand Sri Lanka Foundation (Auckland)
• ANDREW CAMPBELL, campaigns director of Finsec, the finance workers union (Wellington)
• MARGO BAARS, co-ordinator of Human Rights Foundation Aotearoa (Auckland)
• JIM MILLER, professor of Applied Language Studies & Linguistics at University of Auckland
• NASREEN HANNIF, national representative of Islamic Women's Council of New Zealand (Auckland)
• Reverend GILLIAN WATKIN, Methodist presbyter at Mt Eden (Auckland)
• JUDITH McMORLAND, secretary of Action for Children & Youth in Aotearoa (Auckland)
• ISRAR SHEIKH, general secretary of New Zealand Muslim Youth & Sports Association (Auckland)
• Reverend BRUCE KEELY, co-president of Council of Christians & Muslims (Auckland)
• JILL OVENS, northern regional secretary of Service & Food Workers Union/Nga Ringa Tota (Auckland)
• MARION HANCOCK, director of The Peace Foundation (Auckland)
• Venerable AMALA WRIGHTSON, spiritual director of Auckland Zen Centre and member of Auckland Interfaith Council
• MOHAMED MOSES, secretary of Mt Roskill Islamic Trust (Auckland)
• GIAMPIETRO FREN, representative of Italian community in Hamilton
• JOAN BROCK, secretary of Council of Christians & Muslims (Auckland)
• MAAN ALZAHER, organiser of Working Together Group (Auckland)
• Sister CLARE O'CONNOR, Cenacle sister (Wellington)
• HANNAH SPIERER, environmental affairs officer for Auckland University Students Association
• JOE CAROLAN, secretary of Solidarity Union (Auckland)
• MAURICE WARD, professor at Faculty of Human & Environmental Studies, Kanto Gakuin University (Yokohama, Japan)
• ABDUL ELAH ARWANI, chair of South Pacific Mosque (Auckland)
• Reverend STUART VOGEL, Presbyterian minister and Council of Christians & Muslims (Auckland)
• SYD KEEPA, convenor of Council of Trade Unions Runanga Te Roopu Kaimahi Maori and apiha Maori for National Distribution Union (Auckland)
• OLIVER WOODS, organiser of The Decembrists, a tertiary student social justice coalition (Auckland)
• Reverend DENISE KELSALL, St Matthew-in-the-City (Auckland)
• FIONA LOVATT-DAVIS, co-host of Kia Ora Show, Radio Watea (Auckland)
• ANNE MOODY, Anglican priest, member of Third Order Society of St Francis (Auckland)
• JULIA ESPINOZA, organiser for ClimAction, Auckland's climate change coalition
• ANILA KETAN, president of Auckland Muslim Girls Association
• LEIGH COOKSON, director of Arena and co-convenor of GATT Watchdog (Christchurch)
• MIKE WILLIAMS, trade unionist (Wellington)
• BERNIE HORNFECK, president of Rotorua People's Advocacy Centre
• CLIVE ASPIN, PhD, senior research fellow at University of Auckland
• Reverend DON BORRIE (Porirua)
• LEN PARKER, co-chair of RAM ­ Residents Action Movement (Auckland)
• ROSEMARY ARNOUX, senior lecturer in French at University of Auckland
• BAKER POSTELNIK, environmental activist (Kaiwaka)
• ISMAIL WAJA, editor of Al Mujaddid Media (Auckland)
• LUKE COXON, organiser for National Distribution Union (Auckland)
• GERARD BURNS, Catholic priest at St Anne's parish, Newtown (Wellington)
• PAUL BRUCE, lead meteorologist at MetService NZ & co-ordinator of Latin American Solidarity Committee Aotearoa (Wellington)
• NUREDIN HASSAN, team manager of Muslim Students Association at Auckland University of Technology
• Dr. LISA GUENTHER. senior lecturer in philosophy, University of Auckland
• KYLE WEBSTER, West Coast representative on board of directors of NZ Nurses Organisation (Greymouth)
• JIBRIL MUSSA, president of NZ Nejashi Trust (Auckland)
• VAUGHAN GUNSON, artist and socialist (Whangarei)
• CAMERON BROADHURST, Zen Society of Auckland
• JANFRIE WAKIM, Palestine Human Rights Campaign (Auckland)
• DAPHNE LAWLESS, editor of UNITY journal (Auckland)
• Dr. MALCOLM BROWN, lecturer in sociology at University of Auckland
• SHAWN TAN, organiser for Finsec, the finance sector workers union (Auckland)
• TAHAE TAIT, Te Arawa iwi & spokesperson for Tait whanau in Rotorua
• JO McVEAGH, environmental activist (Auckland)
• SIMON OOSTERMAN, publicity officer for National Distribution Union (Auckland)
• MOHAMMAD THOMPSON, chair of Voice of Islam TV (Auckland)
• PAT O'DEA, executive member of RAM ­ Residents Action Movement (Auckland)
• DEAN PARKER, NZ Writers Guild (Auckland)
• Dr. HILARY CHUNG, lecturer at University of Auckland
• JIM HUNT, Council of Christians & Muslims (Auckland)
• MIKE TREEN, national director of Unite Workers Union (Auckland)
• AHMAD ESAU, teacher and founder of Aotearoa Islamic Impressions, an Islamic art group (Auckland)
• DONNA GARDINER, Maori mother and grandmother (Auckland)
• MALCOLM FRANCE, organiser for ClimAction, Auckland's climate change coalition
• OMAR HAMED, organiser of Students for Justice in Palestine (Auckland)
• JIM HOLDOM, social justice advocate (Hamilton)
• VALERIE JABIR, NZ Council of Christians & Muslims (Auckland)
• DION MARTIN, organiser for National Distribution Union (Palmerston North)
• MOHAMED HASSAN, senior writer of e-newsletter NZDawa (Auckland)
• PAUL MAUNDER, NZ Writers Guild (Blackball)
• NIK JANIUREK, technical manager of Maidment Theatre (Auckland)
• TAYYABA KHAN, peace activist and former president of Auckland Muslim Girls Association, winner of the Sonja Davies Peace Award in 2005
• TOM BUCKLEY, organiser for Unite Workers Union (Auckland)
• MERYL ZOHRAB, Anglican priest and plunket nurse (Auckland)
• TRACEY McINTOSH, senior lecturer in sociology at University of Auckland
• EVA NAYLOR, peace & environmental activist (Wellington)
• QUENTIN FINDLAY, education co-ordinator of Lincoln University Students Association (Canterbury)
• MEREDYDD BARRAR, spokesperson for Citizens Against Privatisation (Waitakere City)
• CATHERINE BINDON, ex-organiser for National Distribution Union (Wellington)
• DON POLLY, retired journalist (Paekakariki)
• MOHAMED & FARHANA NALAR, Working Together Group (Auckland)
• VALERIE MORSE, Peace Action Wellington
• FELICITY PERRY, lecturer at Victoria University (Wellington)
• ANJUM RAHMAN, Islamic Women's Council of New Zealand (Hamilton)
• GRAEME YOUNG, ex-organiser of National Distribution Union (Christchurch)
• CHRIS SULLIVAN, Catholic (Auckland)
• LYN DOHERTY, Maori mother and grandmother (Auckland)
• RICHARD KELLER, peace activist (Wellington)
• HEATHER LYALL, social worker (Auckland)
• ILIYAS DAUD, pharmacist and sports administrator at Ponsonby Soccer Club (Auckland)
• DON ARCHER, delegate for Engineering, Printing & Manufacturing Union (Christchurch)
• MADENEYAH GAMILDIEN, commodity trader (Auckland)
• FRANCO MANAI, senior lecturer in Italian at University of Auckland
• BILL ROSENBERG, researcher for Campaign Against Foreign Control in Aotearoa (Christchurch)
• GRANT BROOKES, delegate for NZ Nurses Organisation (Wellington)
• NIBRAS KARDAMAN, marketing co-ordinator (Auckland)
• SALLY McARA, PhD candidate and author (Auckland)
• GARRICK MARTIN, mental health nurse (Wellington)
• VICTOR BILLOT, national president of Alliance Party (Dunedin)
• EMILY BAILEY, environmental & community worker (Wellington)
• OMAR KHAMOUN, Wellington Palestine Group
• GLYNNIS PARAHA, daughter, grand-daughter, sister, niece, aunt, grand-aunt & friend (Auckland)
• AFIFA CHIDA, Bachelor of Design student (Auckland)
• WARREN BREWER, secretary of Socialist Party of Aotearoa (Auckland)
• TIM HOWARD, community worker (Whangarei)
• JOHN POLKINGHORNE, undergraduate student in economics & chemistry (Auckland)

ENDS

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