Our collegues in Australia, the Q Society, were profiled on ABC's Lateline. As these things generally go, it could have been far worse. They interviewed me for 20 minutes — interesting what pull-quotes they used.
Reporter: Ben McLean ABC Report: Transcript
EMMA ALBERICI, PRESENTER: Controversial Dutch MP Geert Wilders is expected to tour Australia in February next year.
anti-Islam politician was due in the country this month, but had to
postpone his visit because of a long delay with his visa application.
proposed tour has drawn attention to a little known Australian group
called The Q Society, which is organising and funding his trip.
Ben McLean reports.
MCLEAN, REPORTER: Mosques on suburban streets, burqas in shopping
centres, hallal food and Islamic schools, signs of a flourishing
multicultural society to many Australians, but to others they are steps
down a dangerous path towards a segregated future.
Q SOCIETY CO-FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT: Travelling through Europe, I saw
the ghettoisation. The intimidation, we suffered it. In England we had
death threats when we were in Birmingham from Muslims there.
BEN MCLEAN: But these things aren't happening in Australia, are they?
GEOFF DICKSON: Not now, but we are definitely following down the same path.
MCLEAN: This is Kew, a well heeled suburb in Melbourne's inner east and
it was here at this local hotel where the Q Society was born two years
ago and where it derived its name.
When the society held its
annual general meeting in Sydney last week, it granted Lateline
exclusive access on the condition no audience members were identified,
and they were treated to a personal message from Geert Wilders.
WILDERS, PARTY FOR FREEDOM, NETHERLANDS: Your government had me wait so
long for my visa that it became impossible for me to be here in Sydney
today. However, I promise you that I will be in your midst very soon. No
threats, no bans, no obstacles have ever prevented me from speaking the
truth, and I will also do that in Australia.
BEN MCLEAN: Q
Society members describe themselves as volunteers with no political
aspirations who just want to wake up Australia to the threat they claim
is posed by Islam.
DEBBIE ROBINSON, Q SOCIETY DEPUTY PRESIDENT:
There are members throughout each State. We have hundreds of supporters,
registered members. There is quite a few thousand on our emailing list.
They are from all walks of life, all denominations, all different
religions, colour, creed, and from everywhere.
BEN MCLEAN: The
previously obscure group shot to prominence when it organised Geert
Wilders' Australian visit. Last month it created another stir,
distributing pamphlets protesting against what it claims was the
preferencing of Islam in state schools.
DEBBIE ROBINSON: When
something encroaches on our society and we're asked to change, we're
asked to not have Christmas trees, stop having pork, don't drink
alcohol, when we're asked to change something, it encroaches on our way
of life, and we have a good way of life, then we draw the line at that.
MCLEAN: The Q Society doesn't fit the mould of far right groups like
the League of Rights or the Australia First Party. Its platform is
non-racist. It supports immigration and has no objections to
homosexuality and far from being anti-Semitic, it's actually a strong
supporter of Israel.
That puts the Q Society in step with a
number of other overseas movements, from the English Defence League to
Stop Islamisation of Europe, which are all vehemently anti-Islam and
KEVIN CARROLL, ENGLISH DEFENCE LEAGUE: We
believe Israel has the right to exist, we believe Israel has a right to
defend itself from any aggressor, Islamist or otherwise.
BEN MCLEAN: In August this year the Q Society and its international allies formed SION, Stop Islamisation of Nations.
The Q Society's Debbie Robinson is on the steering committee.
president is Pamela Geller, a New Yorker whose American freedom defence
initiative last month plastered the city's public transport system with
posters calling for people to support civilised Israel over savage
PAMELA GELLER, PRESIDENT OF SION: I think you could say
that SION was set up in response to the global jihad and of course the
imposition of blasphemy laws under the Sharia. I don't care if you
worship a stone, just don't stone me with it. It's not a religious
issue, it is a political issue, and if people come to certain countries
to live in those countries, they should respect and obey those laws, not
seek to change them.
BEN MCLEAN: In Australia, the Q Society has
campaigned vigorously against the so-called 'boycott divestment and
sanctions campaign' aimed at Israeli and Jewish businesses.
also led opposition to Muslims using this Melbourne community centre as a
prayer hall. Both campaigns attracted support from Jews, but the
Australian Jewish Democratic Society says that's because few people were
aware of the Q Society's agenda.
HAROLD ZWIER, AUSTRALIAN JEWISH
DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY: I know there are some individuals that do support
the Q Society, but there is no mainstream Jewish organisations. In fact,
I don't know of any organisations in the Jewish community that would
give any support to it.
BEN MCLEAN: The group also has links to
the Christian Right, particularly the Christian Democratic Party of
Reverend Fred Nile. Former Q Society deputy president Vicky Jansen has
been a CDP candidate at State and Federal level and spoke at the party's
national convention in 2010 and 2011.
Muslim leaders have already begun discussing how to respond to the Q
Society's campaign and Geert Wilders' coming visit.
PRESIDENT OF MUSLIMS AUST: We as Muslims and Muslim leaders, it is our
responsibility to I think educate about Islam to the greater community,
to show what true Islam is, to show the various aspects of Islam which
is rich in culture and art and history, and try and explain that to the
people so that there is a better understanding. I think there is a lot
of work that needs to be done.
BEN MCLEAN: It may be the only
point on which Muslims and the Q Society agree: People need to be
educated about the true nature of Islam.
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