One of the myths promulgated by the many public commentators, and latched on to by many Australians who have no direct experience of Muslim cultural life in Australia, is the idea that Muslims aren’t standing up and rejecting Extremists. This myth is blatantly inaccurate, with many Islamic religious and community leaders openly condemning ISIS and other extremist groups.

Part of the reason the myth persists is that news stories that show Muslim leaders condemning extremists rarely make it past the hysteria surrounding reporting of ISIS and the potential for local terrorism.

You only have to have an open mind and dig just a little below the surface to find that Muslim leaders are indeed condemning extremism, and without reservation.

This open letter to ISIS, signed by over one hundred of the worlds leading Muslim scholars, lays out in no uncertain terms how the actions by ISIS do not represent Islam.  The letter lists the main Islamic laws that ISIS has failed to uphold, then addresses Al Baghdadi, the ISIS leader, directly.  It lists 24 “essentials”; areas of Islamic custom which ISIS has not respected.  The breaches include slavery, the killing of innocents, the killing of emissaries, (journalists), the harming of non-believers (forbidden in 90% of Islamic interpretations), destruction of graves, and others.  Also rejected by the letter is the right of ISIS to declare a Jihad.
The letter concludes:

Islam is mercy and its attributes are merciful. The Prophet, who was sent as a mercy for all the worlds, summarized a Muslim’s dealings with others by saying: ‘He who shows no mercy, will not be shown mercy’; and: ‘Have mercy and you will be shown mercy.’ But, as can be seen from everything mentioned, you have misinterpreted Islam into a religion of harshness, brutality, torture and murder. As elucidated, this is a great wrong and an offence to Islam, to Muslims and to the entire world.

Not only are worldwide Muslim scholars denouncing ISIS and extremism.  Pushed to the back pages, likely due to it’s un-newsworthy nature, are statements by Islamic leaders across Australia.  Just a few stories are listed below:

And further condemnations of ISIS from around the world

These stories aren’t hard to find.

Yazidi Refugees

Yazidi refugees from Islamic State receiving support from the International Rescue Committee

The Keep QLD Nuclear Free network hosted a conference today to welcome Naoto Kan to Brisbane and to ask Mr Kan about his position on nuclear power. Mr Kan was Prime Minister of Japan during the Fukushima Nuclear disaster.

Mr Kan spoke of the failure of TEPCO and authorities to contain the disaster and of the affects on the prefecture of Fukushima. He described the Fukushima disaster as without precedent and without any technology yet capable of cleaning up the site. The cores of several reactors continue to melt down without any real ideas on how to stop the process, and top soil removed from the site will have to be stored for thousands of years.

When asked about his position on Nuclear power now compared to before the disaster, Mr Kan said his view had changed 180 degrees. As of today, no nuclear power plants are operating in Japan, having been mothballed while a decision is made about how or if the plants can be operated safely.

Earlier this week Mr Kan visited northern Australian Indigenous communities to talk with Elders about the issues of Nuclear power and nuclear mining.

Below are photos from the conference:

Naoto Kan Brisbane (1)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (2)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (5)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (6)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (8)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (10)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (11)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (12)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (14)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (15)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (16)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (18)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (19)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (20)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (21)

Supporters frustrated and angry with the government’s handling of the Manus Island detention centre rallied in Brisbane today.  Over 300 protesters gathered at King George Square to hear speeches, followed by a march through the city centre.

Indigenous elder and community leader Sam Watson offered a welcome to country, and also spoke of the sense of solidarity the Indigenous community feels with asylum seekers due to their common dispossession from home lands.  Labour and Greens politicians spoke, condemning the inaction and secrecy of the government regarding the recent violence at Manus Island. Refugee activists and a Manus Island employee also spoke at the rally.  Speaker Tim Arnot condemned Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison for failing to acknowledge  murdered detainee Reza Berati by name, and called for a minute silence.

There was some negotiation with police who were unwilling to let a march go ahead due to the required paperwork not having been filed in time.  It is this reporters understanding that the Peaceful Assembly act requires 5 working days notice only to ensure that an assembly can not be stopped without a court order from police, but that an impromptu assembly is still legal and that it is within police powers to allow the assembly to proceed unless there is good reason not to (public safety etc).

In the end, protesters decided they were going to march anyway, and police acquiesced.

Photos and Videos follow below:

Media Release from Mark Gillespie Refugee Action Collective

MEDIA RELEASE

POLICE AND LOCALS RUN AMOK ON MANUS ISLAND: SCORES INJURED; FEARS FOR
THE LIVES OF ASYLUM SEEKERS

Scores of asylum seekers have been injured, some seriously as gangs of
armed PNG police and locals go from compound to compound attacking any
asylum seekers they can find.

Asylum seekers were left defenceless when all staff and G4S guards
were evacuated from the detention centre. Tension with groups of
locals had been building throughout the day. G4S had already withdrawn
from Mike compound late Monday afternoon.

The attacks started late Monday night after the power was cut to the
detention centre. PNG police and locals then had the run of the
detention centre.

Locals are armed with machetes, pipes, sticks and stones – have bashed
and cut asylum seekers. One asylum seeker has been thrown from the
second floor of a building; others have suffered machete cuts. There
is one report that a man has been left with his eye hanging from its
socket after a bashing.

Asylum seekers fled from their compounds into the dark in a desperate
attempt to flee from their attackers. A call from Mustafa in Mike
compound around 11pm said that there were only five or six people left
in his compound and they were now fleeing to try and find safety.
People had fled all the other compounds. Mustafa said that he was
covered in his own blood from cuts to the head, hand and arms. He
estimated at least 50 people in Mike compound alone had been injured.

One of the last of the staff to be taken out of the detention centre
around midnight Monday night said it will be a miracle if no-one is
killed.

Gunshots can be heard in the background of calls coming from the
detention centre.

“The blood spilled inside the Manus detention centre is on the
Immigration Minister’s hands. Manus Island has always been a disaster
waiting to happen,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee
Action Coalition.

“Scott Morrison deliberately played down the seriousness of the
situation and the danger that asylum seekers faced. It seems clear now
that the injured asylum seekers were deliberately treated inside the
detention centre to hide the scale and seriousness of the injuries
suffered on Sunday night.

“It must be clear now that asylum seekers cannot live safely on Manus
Island. They should never have been taken there. Asylum seekers must
be brought to Australia.”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

The High Court of Australia has unanimously ruled that the federal Marriage Act 1961 overrides the recent passing of the Marriage Equality (Same Sex) Act 2013 in the ACT. Consequently the ACT law has been repealed. The marriages of 30 people who were married under the act no longer have legal standing.

In its judgement the High Court maintained that the federal government’s right to pass law on marriage is protected under the constitution. Section 51 of the Constitution grants power of marriage and divorce to the federal government (s51 xxi and s51 xxii). Since federal Act explicitly forbids the recognition of gay marriage, the state Act has no validity.

The Marriage Amendment Act of 2004 (an amendment of the federal Marriage Act), states that:

“Marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life. Certain unions are not marriages. A union solemnised in a foreign country between: (a) a man and another man; or (b) a woman and another woman; must not be recognised as a marriage in Australia

The High Court’s summary judgement states:

“The Court held that the object of the ACT Act is to provide for marriage equality for same sex couples and not for some form of legally recognised relationship which is relevantly different from the relationship of marriage which federal law provides for and recognises,”

“Accordingly, the ACT Act cannot operate concurrently with the federal Act.”

The finding puts the onus for marriage reform back onto the federal government. Gay marriage advocates will need to work harder to bring about a federal bill that overturns the common law definition of marriage on which the 2004 amendments were based.

ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher has no regrets about pursuing marriage equality in the state. She said the spotlight on Gay Marriage would “continued to push the debate forward”.

Gay Marriage SF

Marriage Ceremony in San Francisco, shortly after Gay Marriage laws were passed in California

1000 motorbikes burbled into Brisbane CBD today to give Premier Newman pause over the recent ‘bikie’ legislation.  Another 4000 or so people joined the riders in front of state parliament to let it be known that Queenslanders do not support the VLAD act and other incursions into rights of association.

Police set aside areas on Alice Street for motorbike parking, but these areas quickly overflowed and police were run ragged ensuring bikers were able to park safely.

The rally was positioned as non-partisan, though this didn’t stop organiser Gabriel Buckley of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) from using the opportunity to remind people of his nomination for the seat of Redcliffe. The former seat of disgraced LNP politician Scott Driscoll, Redcliffe will be contested in a by-election in February.

Gabriel Buckley runs on a Libertarian platform.

Along with the announcement about Buckley’s candidacy, and presence of the flag of the LDP, the rally also drew speaker David Leyonhjelm, NSW Senator-elect.  Leyonhjelm spoke about how the VLAD laws and associated legislation creates a “moral panic” in the public mind about motorbike riders.  Leyonhjelm finished his talk by saying:

“And they wonder why nobody comes to the aid of police when they are in trouble.

“I’m never going to help someone who thinks it’s ok to pull me up, search me and threaten me with jail if I don’t answer their questions merely because  am riding my motorcycle in company with a couple of other people.  If that’s what they think, they can lie on the side of the road and bleed to death.”

While the crowd had generally been positive about the talk, at this point cheering was more subdued as people tried to decide if it was appropriate to applause such a statement.

Other speakers were passionate and rousing but stopped short of wishing death on police.

Speakers included amongst others Queensland Council for Civil Liberties spokesman Michael Cope, and Electrical Trades Union spokesman Peter Simpson, who both spoke about how the legislation was not solely directed at outlaw bike clubs and how the laws will impact on civil rights.  The wife of prisoner Kevin, an ex-bikie and model prisoner now on 23 hour lockdown, spoke about her husband’s situation. Anonymous also fielded a speaker, and were present in force in the crowd.

Being the biggest rally seen at parliament house in recent times, bigger even than the very successful Rally for Rights held on the 19th of November, it is fair to say that Queensland politicians may be starting to wonder if they have woken a sleeping dragon.

Freedom Ride

Freedom Ride

Freedom Ride

Freedom Ride

Freedom Ride

Freedom Ride

Freedom Ride

Freedom Ride

Freedom Ride

December 1, 2013

Media Release

G20 Dissenters form Action Network

As Australia assumes the G20 presidency prior to the summit in November next year, concerned community members announce the formation of the Brisbane Community Action Network G20 (BrisCAN-G20).

The network has formed to facilitate community responses and raise the profile of dissent to the G20 summit. BrisCAN-G20 will foster collaborations between community groups, support community action and provide commentary and critique of the G20 and Australia’s role in it.

The network has developed out of shared concerns about the G20’s perpetuation of an abusive economic system. The Group of 20 summit outcomes privilege the wealthy over the majority, have disregard for the environment and human rights, and lack transparency and public participation. Furthermore, The Group of 20 is involved in the erosion of civil liberties as a mechanism of control and fails to provide meaningful, sustainable and just community focused solutions to global crises and conflict.

Kim Stewart from Friends of the Earth Brisbane said “While the coming together of nations could be an opportunity to promote peace, social justice and ecological sustainability, the G20 is perpetuating financial and economic system that is failing the majority of the world and destroying the planet.”

Benjamin Pennings from Generation Alpha said “It is time for Australia and the G20 to re-think our economic system and make decisions that protect the earth – our shared habitat – and deliver a just and sustainable future for our children. The G20 do not act for global good. They should not be making decisions for us.”

For more information on BrisCAN-G20 or media comment please contact:

Kim Stewart, Friends of the Earth Brisbane – 0413 397 839
Benjamin Pennings, Generation Alpha – 0418 164 014.

MEDIA RELEASE * MEDIA RELEASE * MEDIA RELEASE * MEDIA RELEASE * MEDIA RELEASE
For immediate release, 30 November 2013

Citizens network forms to fight civil liberties “crackdown”

A packed meeting of more than 70 concerned citizens and representatives from community organisations founded a new campaigning organisation at Brisbane’s Electrical Trades Union hall on Wednesday night, responding to what organisers called “an unprecedented crackdown on civil liberties in Queensland”.

The Queensland Civil Liberties Network was born amid cheers from meeting participants who set about planning a series of protest actions over coming months, including a rally and march to fall on Parliament’s first sitting day, February 11 2014.

Brisbane alternative media publisher Max Riethmuller said the Newman government had created a climate in which people now feared gathering in public.

“I have already seen people choose not to attend a protest out of fear of the VLAD act,” Mr Riethmuller said.

“The slow usurping of rights in this state has potential to strip us of very important basic rights,” he said.

Mr Riethmuller said that by positioning this legislation as being about ‘bikies’ or ‘parties’ the government was engaging in “subterfuge”.

The meeting also endorsed the actions of the Queensland Council of Unions, Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy and other organisations in relation to the UN Human Rights Day on 10th of December, and the upcoming Anti-VLAD Freedom Ride on December 1st.

“The Queensland government is contravening various articles of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, particularly in regard to the right to free speech and the right to freedom of association,” said Mr Riethmuller

Meeting organiser Ewan Saunders attacked the recent “Out-of-control Parties” legislation as “absurd”.

“Next will it be people only inviting 11 people to their backyard BBQ’s to avoid the chance of being thrown in jail for a year?” Mr Saunders asked.

“When ordinary law abiding people have to closely watch their movements to avoid getting in trouble with the law, we are basically living in a police state,” he said.

“My hope is that this network can help build effective and broad-based opposition to these laws.”

For media comment, contact:

Ewan Saunders: 0401 234 610
Max Riethmuller: 0415 200 577

Visit the campaign Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/civillibertiesqld

Latifa and and family went back to court today to find out whether the attempt to block their transfer back to Nauru was successful.

Latifa gave premature birth to a son Ferouz, at the Mater Hospital on the 6th of December.  Since then she has had the threat of being transferred to Nauru with her family and new born son into conditions unsuitable for the care of an infant.

The case is still unresolved, but Latifa’s lawyers secured a commitment from the Department of Immigration to not move Latifa without notice.

Murray Watt of Maurice Blackburn gave a statement outside the court today:

Over the last 24 hours we have had a series of negotiations with the department and their advisers, and the government has made a commitment that before any decisions are made to move this family to Nauru, they will provide them with a fair hearing about their health issue, and about the rights of Ferouz having been born in Australia.

He went on to say:

The department has also provided a commitment that the family will be provided two days notice before any removal to Nauru. That is a really good outcome for this family, only one week ago we were in court because the family was subject to removal at any time, without any notice, and without any opportunity to provide medical information, and today we have managed to secure commitments from the government that they will get a fair hearing before any decision is made to take them to Nauru.

Mr Watt used the opportunity to remind the government of it’s obligations under international treaties.

The family is very happy with that outcome, and as I say it is a good outcome for this particular family, but having achieved a win for this particular family I think we have all got to reflect on the entire practice of detaining small children and families offshore in conditions that only this week the UN has reported are inhumane. I think we can do better than that as Australians, we have international obligations that require us to do better than that, and I now call on the minister and the entire Australian community to think about this is the kind of conditions that we think are acceptable for very small children and their families.

Mr Watt went on to explain that the government had every intention of sending Latifa and her family to Nauru once their health allowed them to be transferred safely  In the coming weeks the law firm will present evidence to show why this was not an appropriate course of action.

The fact that Latifa was able to achieve a stay on her transfer to Nauru while her lawyers prepare her case will enable other asylum seekers to benefit also.  This case will likely form a test case for other similar cases of detention on Australian soil and may set a precedent that will allow families to remain in Australia when the only alternative is to send families and their young children to the unsuitable conditions that exist at Nauru.

Family and Newborn of Asylum Seeker Latifar

Latifa, her husband Niza, their 7 year-old daughter Habiba, four year-old son, Muddin and baby Ferouz at BITA, Pinkenba

Today Asylum Seeker Latifa and family went to the Federal Circuit Court to seek an injunction against being sent to Nauru.

After being transferred from Nauru to give birth to her son Ferouz, born at Mater Brisbane Hospital on November 6, Latifa and her family now face being sent back to Nauru.   The family are currently being held at the Brisbane Immigration Transit Accommodation (BITA) centre.  She was initially only able to visit her son between 10am and 4pm, but now mother and son are together permanently.

Refugee advocates claim that the facilities at Nauru are inappropriate for providing care to a new born. Advocates from Refugee Action Collective are assisting Latifa launch the legal challenge against being sent back to Nauru.

Protesters gathered today outside the Federal Circuit Court to show support for Latifa and her family.

I spoke to one of the supporters, Bradley, who attended the court hearing:

“I went and sat in the open court and heard the Lawyers for the Government basically trying to say the injunction against removal of Latifa and Ferouz doesn’t apply as there is no set date for removal and it is presumed they will be removed. The argument was that the current court it is held in doesn’t have jurisdiction to make a decision one way or another. They say it should be dealt with in the high court. Latifa’s lawyers I heard out of the courtroom say the case is unique in that Latifa come from a place which is deemed stateless. Since Ferouz was born on Australian soil he should be entitled to a protection visa and not be able to be legally deported. The case was adjourned till Fri at 3pm so the judge could read over several acts that the lawyers for the Government were quoting from. It would seem the most concern is that they will be taken removed from Australia before the case is even heard.”

Other asylum seekers with young children, and disabled asylum seekers, currently detained on mainland Australia who also face being sent to Nauru, may benefit from any decision that may arise out of this action.

Protesters gather outside the federal court to support Latifar, new born son and family's request for an injunction against being returned to Nauru

Protesters gather outside the federal court to support Latifa, new born son and family’s request for an injunction against being returned to Nauru