On ABC Lateline, on October 8, the guest was Wassim Doureihi of the anti-democracy Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir. Wassim is a character I debated at UWS a couple of years ago. As in the debate, Wassim was vehement and articulate, and true to Islam. Despite repeated questioning, he refused to condemn anything that Islamic State has done, and instead launched into obstinate polemics about supposed Muslim victimhood. Host Emma Albirici continually talked over him in an attempt to insist that he answered the questions. This was probably the most confrontational interview that has ever been on Lateline.
Of course Doureihi would not condemn Islamic State because that is what Hizb ut-Tahrir wants. A caliphate is their objective. It is important to understand that Islamic State is simply following the aims, methods and example of the Prophet Muhammad himself. Of course Doureihi could not express his enthusiasm for IS, because he would be in danger of violating new anti-terror laws. I sympathise with him in this. These laws should not restrict freedom of speech and Hizb ut-Tahrir should not be banned. We need to hear their views openly and debate them.
What we need to do is to seek to undermine the ideology of Islam that causes otherwise reasonable people to behave in such unreasonable ways. We should not blame people for following their religion. We should instead concentrate on demythologising Islam and all religions. These people are causing mayhem on the basis of their beliefs, but these are beliefs that we actually know to be false. Reason and evidence tell us so. This should be the basis of our criticism. There is little point in debating within the context of Islam. The extremists have the Koran and the Hadith on their side and they know it…
Do we really need to hear them? I guess we do if we want to preserve a semblance of “freedom of speech,” but the latter might turn out to be incompatible with Islam anyway.