It says a lot about the reality of freedom

Melissa Davey in the Guardian reports on the aftermath of the cancellation of Badar’s FODI talk.

A Sydney-based Muslim speaker has said the public outcry that prompted the Opera House to cancel his lecture called Honour Killings Are Morally Justified reveals the “extent and depth” of Islamophobia in Australia.

Does it? Or does it just reveal the extent and depth of opposition to “honor” murder in Australia? Which would be a good thing.

Badar said people had jumped to conclusions about his views before he had a chance to speak.

“Things were assumed and outrage ensued,” he said. “That is the way Islamophobia works. The assumption is ‘we know what the Muslims will say’. This a very instructive case as far as that goes.”

No it isn’t, and no it isn’t, and no it isn’t. All those claims are wrong. The talk had a title; there were no scare quotes indicating distance or irony; the title said what it said.

“I think the hysteria says a lot about Islamophobia and about the extent and the depth of it in this country.

“It says a lot about the reality of freedom and the space that minorities have to move in in this country, Muslims in particular.”

What about the space that Muslim girls and women have to move when the threat of being murdered for perceived sexual disobedience hangs over them? What about that kind of space to move? Does Uthman Badar give a flying fuck about that? Not that I can see; he’s worried only about his own space to flatter the practice of murdering girls and women for perceived sexual disobedience.


  1. Crimson Clupeidae says

    I would like for one of the papers to give him the space (and the rope) he needs to print what he was going to present. Assuming he doesn’t radically change what he says, knowing the probably backlash, I would like to see watch the backlash occur, and see if he continues to blame it on Islamaphobia.

  2. quixote says

    Motivated cognition can be quite the spectacle. First the little idiot savant wants to talk about how justified honor killings are. When he’s met with a wall of outrage, it turns into a talk he planned to give about how some people, with whom I think he then said he doesn’t agree?, think they’re justified. When the virtual rotten veg kept flying, he wrapped himself in the toga of misunderstood virtue shaking his head at the savages more in sorrow than in anger.

    What a piece of work. I gather he lives in Australia? Why?

  3. Chris J says

    Apparently this guy denies that people could be opposed to honor killings alone, that it must fundamentally come from hatred of Muslims first. No. I could imagine an argument that Islamophobia arises from opposition to honor killings, in that people fear and hate Muslims as a whole because of the practices of some. But it doesn’t work the other way around; there are plenty of reasons to oppose murder without appealing to the culture in which that murder takes place.

  4. Pen says

    @1 – I kind of thought that too, but after a close reading of the intro to his talk a few posts back I’ve come to the conclusion hat it would be futile. I suspect it was going to be largely a display of ‘westernophobia’ with a large helping of ignorance of actual contemporary western culture thrown in and an inability to reason ethically. It seemed his main justification for honor killings was going to be ‘westerners do it too, they just attach honor to different things’.

  5. Chris J says


    Even if he was trying to draw parallels with the death penalty, and even if you don’t personally believe the death penalty should exist, it’s still possible to distinguish between a court deciding if a criminal deserves to die after a trial according to state-wide moral codes and a family deciding to kill a family member according to personal moral codes. And that’s without even touching the moral codes themselves.

  6. Pen says

    @5 – It wasn’t that Chris, he was trying to draw a parallel between dying for the honour of one’s nation, flag, monarch or religion, if I recollect rightly. And he said this was also a sacrifice made by parents in the name of honour.

    It’s hard to begin to enumerate the misconceptions and lack of parallels there. Historically, of course he has a point but it’s redundant since historically, many kinds of honour killing were practiced in the west. Now, your mainstream westerner rejects ‘honour’ as a legitimate reason for going to war or, indeed, killing anyone in any circumstances. That’s why our leaders tie themselves in knots trying to make war look like it’s really helping other people or protecting us from terrible things. And, as I said a few posts ago, the sacrifice in these cases isn’t chosen by parents, but demanded by authority figures.

    It would be quite interesting to have a discussion of what we mean by honour in the West today, on those rare occasions when we use the word and what he means by honour. I suspect they’re rather different things, but it takes us too far down another thread.

    Basically, not enough common ground has been established between this speaker and his potential audience to create an even remotely productive discussion.

  7. Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive] says

    I am going – extremely grudgingly – give him one point: there probably is a connection between the (historical and present) tendency to say that sending your child to die for the sake of your country’s/nation’s/tribe’s honor is okay and the tendency to say that sending your child to die for the sake of your family’s honor is okay. Those two beliefs are probably connected.

    But while his argument seems to be “both are okay!” I retort “both are terrible!”

  8. Chris J says


    Huh. Ok. I thought it was going to be about how the death penalty in the west basically exists as a form of revenge on people who harm society, the same way an honor killing would be killing someone who harmed the “honor” of the family. Apparently it’s actually a worse argument.

  9. Shatterface says

    Badar said people had jumped to conclusions about his views before he had a chance to speak.
    “Things were assumed and outrage ensued,” he said. “That is the way Islamophobia works. The assumption is ‘we know what the Muslims will say’. This a very instructive case as far as that goes.”

    I think any response to this beyond Oh. fuck off! is redundant.

  10. says

    Islam (or certain interpretations of it) isn’t the only religion in the world that tolerates or encourages ‘honour killing’ and anyone of whatever religious belief asserting a cultural practice resembling this in Australia would receive harsh criticism of their morally repugnant views. I have no doubt that a portion of criticism has come from the racist parts of our culture, which would latch onto any abhorrent statement from someone of an ethnic minority to further their divisive agenda, but Uthman mistakenly has conflated this with the genuine disgust for the practice generally held by the majority of the population.

  11. RJW says

    Pen @8

    Agreed, it’s a false analogy, parents, in democratic societies don’t ‘sacrifice their children’, Badar is either consciously using sophistry, or he rejects the ethical foundations of Western culture.

    Xanthe @ 11

    I doubt that Badar has mistakingly conflated the two, he’s obviously played the ‘Orientalism’ card.

  12. says

    Agree with Pen @8. That’s the impression I got, too. A soldier dying in war or maybe a social justice activist dying for their cause (MLK Jr. would be a good example). The death penalty doesn’t compare because there isn’t honor in that. It’s just something we (sadly) do. But, yeah, the comparison he’s trying to make doesn’t work because dying for one’s religion isn’t an honorable thing. We, for the most part, don’t honor martyrs for Christianity anymore, which might be the best counter-argument. Compare apples to apples.

  13. says

    A perhaps even better example would be James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, who were murdered near Philadelphia, Mississippi June 21 1964 – 50 years ago last Saturday.

    But honor isn’t the right word really. Dedication is more like it – and a much better thing.

  14. dorkness says

    I can think of a couple of western honour killing traditions.
    Duels were all about establishing your honour by acts of violence, and losing status if you fail to do it. Unless you count criminal subcultures, I’d say this is not a living tradition.
    Infanticide to hide out-of-wedlock births. Violence more instrumental here, e.g. if the baby could be passed as belonging to an older married relative, that would have been just as good a way of preserving honour. Can’t say this never happens anymore, there are weird religious subcultures, but mainstream westerners would be just horrified.

  15. sonofrojblake says

    The death penalty doesn’t compare because there isn’t honor in that. It’s just something we (sadly) do.

    Who’s this “we”?

    Nobody has been executed in Australia, where this dolt was scheduled to speak, since 1967. Nobody has been executed in the UK since 1964. Germany abolished the death penalty in 1949. Even Turkey, a Muslim country, abolished the death penalty ten years ago and hasn’t executed anyone for thirty years.

    Executing people is something Americans do, almost uniquely among “Western” nations.

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