Updated 13th September 2010. Kevin Rudd, former Prime Minister of Australia, now responsible for Foreign Affairs, never
told the media that immigrants, and especially Muslims, should adapt to
Australian culture, language and beliefs, or otherwise leave the
country. Its a hoax. See What Kevin Rudd didn't say, but everyone wishes he did. Sad
Update: Tuesday 3rd March 2009: Ten days ago I noted 100 searches in 3 days on variations of "Kevin Rudd Muslim Speech" that arrived at this blog. This past week it has been 1100, and is now topping 200 each day. I am delighted to welcome readers and invite you to check out the hoax post above as well as the wider focus of my writing.
Update: 22nd February. Thanks to James (comment below) who clued me in on what seems the fuss regarding Kevin Rudd. 100 searches in the last three days on "Kevin Rudd Muslim speech" or variants of that, and James comment had me looking further. On the basis of all I have read, I believe the "Muslims out of Australia" email is a hoax.
For any Muslims reading this. I am a Christian, based in an Anglican church as a peacemaker and community builder in an English city with upwards of 20% Muslim. I work in close relationship with Muslim leaders in here, and we are committed to making our multicultural city a place where all are welcome. I recognise the hurt you will feel from this email. It grieves me that there are people who hope to stir up trouble by putting out such hateful stuff.
Beware the hoax "Muslims out of Australia Speech"
I have been honoured that a pom gets to be the leading authority on the web of the the Australian premiere's views on Islam! 100 hits in the past three days, 250 over the past two weeks seeking information on "kevin rudd islam speech" is good newsfor those of us who seek to get their views out via this media. But I am also troubled -- this sort of thing usually means people are searching for something that everyone has heard of but no one can find!
As a peacemaker, seeking justice for the powerless, and working to remove the colonialist and neo-colonialist foootprints from our world, I have been impressed by Rudd's apology to the Stolen generations of Australian aborigines. I have written Kevins Rudd's Sorry Speech and In Australia, From Apology, a Hit Song Grows. (Incidentally this last week has been the first year anniversary of that speech to the Australian parliament, and Rudd has promised a review of progress: Anniversary of Apology to the Stolen Generations. Now that is accountability!) Those got me listed high on google for Kevin Rudd, and so when the current search became obvious, I wrote Why search for Kevin Rudd speech on Islam? When they continued and grew I did some more looking into the man: Ace, Kevin! Kevin Rudd's Christian and Conciliatory politics. Reading what I did, everything in me said that Rudd was not going to have said anything stupid on Islam.
It seems the issue is an email that has been circulating saying that Rudd told the media that immigrants should adapt to Australian culture, language and beliefs or leave the country.
The trouble is he didn't.
This is what he has said this year:
First: Questioned on in what his office call a Doorstop Interview in Hobart on 22nd January 2009 he said:
PM: I just looked at the text of these. The quotes as I see them are along the lines of how can a person rape his wife, then in relation to violence the quote is, first of all advise them that is your wives, you beat them, but this is the last resort. These are the reported remarks that come from this particular Islamic cleric. Could I say that these remarks have no place in modern Australia at all, at all. I would call upon this Islamic cleric to publicly apologise and repudiate his remarks. Under no circumstances is sexual violence permissible or acceptable in Australia. Under no circumstances. Under no circumstances are other forms of violence, physical violence towards women, acceptable in Australia. Nor are they acceptable in my view to mainstream Muslim teaching. So I say to this Islamic cleric, Australia will not tolerate these sort of remarks. They don’t belong in modern Australia. And he should stand up, repudiate them, and apologise.
Second: he made a speech at Australia-Indonesia Conference Dinner, Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney on 19th February. In it he spoke very positively of Indonesia, its diversity and the place of Islam in it:
We can discount the second, except to note that Rudd is conciliatory in his style. The first is clearly the issue. The Sydney Morning Herald has an article here Cleric's rant: Rudd demands apology , which includes a clip from Samir Abu Hamza, the Muslim cleric who gave a lecture entitled "The Keys To A Successful Marriage" where he considered whether it was possible for a man to demand sex from his wife or to beat her.
A month after the event it is hard to find the extent to which this issue was covered by the Australian community. It doesn't seem that many made a big thing of it. Wife beating is not an issue they want to go out on a limb to defend. Abu Hamza's remarks (note this is not the British based Abu Hamza, currently fighting deportation) were picked up by some Islamist websites. For example Muslim Village, a site thats eesm to emerge from Australian branch of Hizb ut-Tahrir: Kevin Rudd lives up to Howardian standard in demonising Islam and Muslims
I will avoid calling Hizb ut-Tahrir extremist. Such language doesn't help as it sterotypes them and means we do not listen to them. In a word it demonises them, just what they are accusing Rudd of. That is not the way to solve a problem. They have something of a point, in that we do work from sound bites, yet to most of us born in the west it is hard to consider justifying such behaviour in any circumstance. The Palestininian argument to me has to be heard.
Anyway, Rudd's words have given credibility to an email supposed to report his words. Muslims Out Of Australia is actually titled Canada and America need a leader like this. I will not give the email credibility by repeating it here, but the link is to the Hoax-slayer.com site. It is also covered on Snopes.com here . It is circulating on right wing sites, eg here.
The real news is that the email was originally written reporting former Australian PM John Howards views and began circulating in 2005, with the current version dating from 2007. Referring to the Howard version, hoax-slayer says it "Contains elements of truth, but is highly misleading and inaccurate." That can not be said of Rudd, though some echoes of some phrases are to be found in the Abu Hamza interview, enough to give it some credibility. The Hoax-slayer article concludes that the email is:
Sending on factually dubious information such as this is unlikely to be helpful and may even add to the cultural divisions and misunderstandings that plague our strife-torn world.
Early in 2009 I began receiving versions of the above email that named Australia's current Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, as the person responsible for the supposed anti-Muslim stance. It seems that some rather unimaginative prankster has simply substituted "Rudd" for "Howard" in the text and replaced the photograph of John Howard with one of Kevin Rudd before sending on the message. The message is otherwise identical to the example included above. The "Rudd" version strays even further from the truth than the original. None of the comments or opinions included in the message have any connection whatsoever with Kevin Rudd or his Government. "
For clarity: Neither Rudd or Howard made this speech, but some of it is based on some things Howard and his cabinet did say in different places.
I do not know when the Rudd version appeared. My suspicion is that it originated after Rudd's Abu Hamza remarks in mid January, or at least was given impetus by it.
I will conclude with a reference back to Rudd's door step interview. I suggest he was wrong to deal with the serious issue of Muslim treatment of their wives in that context. It needs carefully judged statements to bring a focus to the problem and not to widen the issue. I totally oppose such remarks about women and about marriage. However I do well to take seriously those who hold them, and to engage with them in a way that honours them as individuals made in God's image.
I hope that the slur on Rudd's reputation goes away, though I must say I am quite enjoying having so many Aussies visiting. Come back please.
For history's sake: this was my original content at this post on February 15th where I was idly noting the surge in visitors to this site:
I have noted before that I am intrigued at how visitors find this blog. Currently the search turning up 5 or more visitors a day is Kevin Rudd muslim Speech - Google Search.
Perhaps the most common search is on Shia Muslims celebrating Ashura, which I have commented on here: Greetings on Ashura
Then during the US presidential election and since a big one has been people who are wanting to see if Barack Obama is the AntiChrist! Obama, Peace and the AntiChrist
If anyone coming here searching on Kevin Rudd and his speech on islam would do me a favour and leave a comment at the bottom to tell me which speech we are talking about, I will be happy to provide some comment (and maybe even informed comment).
I cannot remember if the interest predated Rudd's comments on the comments of Melbourne Cleric Abu Hamza: Cleric's rant: Rudd demands apology If that is what everyone is interested in I can tell you now I totally agree with Rudd for condemning it.