Wednesday, November 09, 2005

A clerical error

The alleged and so-called spiritual leader and cleric of the unnamed and undescribed band of people arrested on charges of terrorism, who was himself arrested along with them, is a person whose views I have previously mentioned in a post last August, and which I find particularly odious, anti-social and subversive of civil authority. His name is Abdul Nacer Ben Brika, also known as Abu Bakr.

He is one of those religious freaks who feel their religion is absolute. Who feel that they are above civil laws, guided by their own perceived vision of a higher authority. Who feel that all other religious and anti-religious viewpoints are intolerably wrong. I mentioned him at this post. I am not alone in my distaste of his beliefs; John Howard also found them condemnable and unacceptable at the time:

I have regularly expressed my disaffection with those religious zealots who are driven to subvert civil law and/or secular society to their particular vision of some "god's law", most recently in, but also in a prior post ranting about a muslim cleric whose views were, to me, indistinguishable from Abu Bkr's:

Knowing only what I've "read in the papers" so to speak, I can only speculate on what he is really on about. My take may be far from the truth - can only be, since I have nothing to go on from first hand knowledge. But the image I have of this Abu Bkr fellow from the media mentions that I have seen is that he is particularly manipulative and disaffected. He seems convinced that he is the only one marching in-step, and all the others are out-of-step. His life has been no bed of roses and he seems to have sought out some form of personal power base to work out his frustrations, somewhat akin to the politically incorrect "short person's syndrome" stereotype. He appears to have turned out to be an incompetent part of society and has turned to "preaching" to somehow compensate him for his hard luck, insignificance and incompetence. By nature or environment, he seems a demanding, self-obsessed, prickly sort, with the bad luck and/or inability to make it into the "mainstream" of society. He could have chosen to be a blogger and worked out his demons harmlessly on his keyboard like the rest of us, but he needed the immediate and tangent feedback of intralled followers to validate himself. Being without authority he tried to invent it.

Anyway, he has his constructed version of a god, and this is my constructed version of him, and we're likely each wrong on essential points.
And it must be emphasised that regardless of my opinion of him, as far as the criminal charges laid against him, he is due a presumption of innocense and entitled to all due process. He may turn out to be innocent of the charges, but I still feel he's a foul fellow, and any person who would follow his preachings, as "student" or otherwise, is as blinded with ignorance and intolerance as he is.

This is what the Herald has to say about him:

"Abdul Nacer Benbrika fought hard to remain in Australia and, having succeeded, has fought just as hard to remain apart from it. The Melbourne resident arrived in Australia from his native Algeria in May 1989 on a one-month visitor's permit and extended this twice, and was allowed to stay a total of six months, after which he became a prohibited non-citizen.

Six years after his arrival he was still fighting, through the Immigration Review Tribunal appeals process, for the right to stay. According to tribunal records, among his reasons for seeking residency was his "love of the Australian lifestyle".

Yet Benbrika, who has praised Osama bin Laden and defended the right of Australian Muslims to fight coalition troops in Iraq, is fixed in his view that Muslims like him should not disappear into the broader Australian community. He has one God, one law - sharia, laid down 1400 years ago - and for him, even fundamentalist clerics such as the controversial Sheik Mohammed Omran are too liberal.

The Islamic Council of Victoria board member Waleed Aly said Benbrika's place in the Muslim community was hard to define because it was so marginal. His group is "a splinter of a splinter of a splinter". "Most Muslims had never heard of him until he appeared on the ABC (7.30 Report)," Mr Aly said. "As far as I am concerned, he has no more sway over the Muslim community in Victoria than any cult leader would have over the religious communities from which they are splintered."

In 1992 Benbrika married a Lebanese woman who had become an Australian citizen and who tried to sponsor him. But the tribunal ruled he would have to leave Australia and reapply for entry. Earlier this year they were expecting their seventh child.

He was identified by police as a key figure in the 16-month investigation that climaxed in yesterday's arrests. But for Benbrika hardship and adversity are part of Allah's way: the more you face hard times, the more you practise Islam."

As a side bar type of thing, I wonder if this guy and his followers are all there is to the "terrorist threat" that Howard and Beazely have been running from, or more precisely, posturing and politicising for, because they have been under tight surveilance and the subject of prior public comment and arrest. Or is there more? We can be thankful that all of the fall-out is taking place in the light of public view and not hidden in some secret detention or Guantanamo Bay. We can be thankful that the police and all the intelligence agencies have had their collective eye on these guys and their alleged plot from their incepiency. And, so far, we can still wonder if all Howard's hoopla and grandstanding was political hyperbole and unnecessary erosion of our tradtional civil liberties - or if we can now shorten that sunset clause and bring forward the anticipated "review" of the SSedtion law.

Finally, it needs to be reitorated that Abu Bkr is described by other Muslims as "fringe" and wrong. Re-read what Waleed Aly said above, and check out his comments at the link I provided. And consider what others are saying and doing about Bkr and his ilk at


Blogger Rex said...

Good post GS.

10 November 2005 at 1:17:00 am GMT+10  

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