I find myself for the first time in the middle of a scandal, oh my! But it’s a scandal of sensationalist, dishonest and badly researched reporting, rather than one of my own making. All I did was publicly express my opinion along with some friends and associates.
I found out late on the 23rd January through social media posts, that Canberra Theatre had an updated version of the now infamous #putthembackup Australia Day image displayed “proudly” on their large exterior screen.
I’m not sure who discovered the image first, but news spread fast through conservative and patriot pages, something the media have quite deliberately overlooked, with hundreds of responses even to my posts, which I published very late on the 24th January, and includes one of the videos taken in front of the CTC building mentioned by ABC news.
Now the ABC have inflated, omitted and misreported a few things, as have all the other media outlets, who copy and pasted the ABC story. The only exception being the Canberra Times, who also reported misleading and incredibly biased “facts” and responses from local “leadership” including Andrew Barr and Diana-Abdel Rahman. None of them have managed to print the full story, even though the facts were public for the most part and the alleged main players easy enough to contact in real life for comment or clarification.
I am guessing the post first began circulating on the 23rd Jan 2017. I know of at least a few threads in different groups that were “trolled” by fake profiles once the conversation really started picking up pace, but beyond those negative interactions (that’s why we call them trolls), you really have to pick and choose to find anything other than dismay or disgust at the lack of Australian culture or values referenced, beyond the flag and two almost identical girls holding flags.
In some 260 comments on one conversation thread, you will find perhaps half a dozen comments you could class as being in anyway violent, bigoted or racist. There were no direct threats offered, it was just clearly frustration being expressed in some comments.
Note the new advertisement doesn’t show the date, any reference to history (indigenous, colonial or immigrant), successful multicultural diversity, mateship, or representative of the community. It is also reportedly originally funded by the Qatar government-backed Qatar Media Services. Flogging and stoning among other things, are legal in Qatar due to Sharia law and of great concern to human rights activists.
The sign displays two young girls wearing religious garb, which it is my understanding is usually worn around puberty or age 15. The girls in the picture look 8 or 9 and it’s doubtful they would choose to wear it if given the freedom, which is their right in this country.
According to the Muslim ladies offering advice to other “sisters”, the hijab is hot and itchy and takes getting used to that sensation, “it takes adaptation and increased tolerance” says one commenter.
Whilst reading through the thread I was reminded of a time in late 2016 where a young Muslim girl on a school excursion to Parliament House, Canberra was using the hand dryer in the bathroom, to try and dry out the sweat that had matted her hair together under her hijab. Her friends bantered with her about how hot it must be and how they never see her hair, while I waited for the giggling mass to finish their gossipy bathroom break, she just smiled and covered her hair back up.
This image displays two young girls not mixing with other cultures and religions. Two young girls far from adulthood, who the tolerant and progressive SBS over and over, call women. They are not women, they are far from mature, and the majority of Australians find the thought of treating such young girls as WOMEN repulsive, in fact I would go so far as to call it a sly pro-pedophilia or child marriage acceptance push, as every article I have seen by them refers to them as WOMEN in HIJAB not CHILDREN!
Now I openly admit I told people to contact the theatre and express their displeasure and concern about the lack of diversity, after I returned from my trip in to to Civic to confirm the image was being used. Not long after people started commenting on the Canberra Theatre Facebook post, it stopped taking comments.
The ABC have had to really pick and choose, in my opinion, to get the alleged screen shot being displayed in the article, (which I suspect is doctored), here for example is a screen shot of two comments made on the CTC site they chose to delete but not report on.
What was not reported at all, was the continued campaign on the 25th January to the Chief Ministers office. This I actively pushed, asking people to flood the office with calls and express their opinion and ask for answers through various social media platforms. Others also spread a similar message.
We pay Australian taxes too, even if our opinions are unwelcome and ignored for the most part, we have a right to voice it to the responsible party. I am surprised the ACT Government didn’t make accusations about the second half of the “campaign”, which was to get those concerned to flood the Chief Ministers office with calls. Reportedly at one point the Chief Ministers Office stopped answering calls (this may have been due to high volume or due to the time it took for them to prepare a statement for callers.)
Now the ABC and those that chose to copy and paste the story, lay the blame at the feet of “Respect Australia Rally”. They did take part in the campaign but didn’t encourage anyone to make threats of violence, just to contact the Theatre and have their say. Nothing wrong, illegal or inciteful there.
Note the picture provided by the ABC in comparison to those from the actual conversation threads below.
Odd people would be more inclined to open up with the racism and threats of violence in closed pages, don’t you think?
The ABC also reported a group of Respect members went and videoed themselves in front of the sign. This is false. The citizens who made videos are completely separate to Respect Australia. The two videos were by a member of Reclaim Australia Canberra Inc. and myself, who is not an actual member of any, but supporter of quite a few. (Note the Inc. at the end of the Reclaim name, this means they operate under the rules laid out by the Office of Regulatory Services ACT for incorporated nonprofits.) I’m guessing I didn’t say anything that they could sensationalise as my video was not quoted just mentioned.
Our videos and our resulting call for people to voice their opinion came about 24 hours after the theatre was already receiving negative feedback. (Sorry Canberra Times, you called them “rabid” for no reason, in fact it’s kind of defamatory)
I’ve been going through the threads, many have 100 plus comments and numerous shares. That is a lot of Canberrans who do not like the image, whether Mr Barr and Co wish to acknowledge our prevalence or not.
Mr Barr, who delights in throwing emotive conversation stoppers right at the start, has predictably labelled myself and all participants, “fanatics”, “racists”, “rednecks”, “intimidating” and “irrational”, and further adds “If these are serious threats then … those who’ve made them should be arrested and the full force of the law thrown at them. “You can’t threaten to blow up buildings in this country without facing criminal charges.” Well labels aside, I only wish that were true Mr Barr, but sadly you can threaten Australians with beheading, rape, violence, bomb threats and loss of sovereignty, without consequence, we see it all the time, for example Mr Barr, I’ve yet to see your outrage used to solve and charge those responsible for the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) bombing and their supporters, something that is in fact factual. An actual bombing. Nor have any charges been laid for the hate speech directed at ACL and their supporters, prior to or post attack.
Let’s see the full extent of the law thrown at that incident, not idle threats at a few disgruntled and dismayed citizens who feel political considerations have hijacked their day of commemoration.
And if Mr Barr doesn’t offer flat out insults or baseless legal threats, he tells us our opinion will not even be looked at anyway “For those who are concerned about the contents of the signs I have a very simple message: ‘get a life, get over it’.” The sheer arrogance and ignorance of the man to deliberately discriminate against the conservative and/or right wing section of his city, without evidence or grounds, in the same way over and over astounds me. Why Canberrans continue to swallow Labor/Greens hateful attitudes and intolerance towards opposing opinions I do not know… Because the word for that behaviour Mr Barr is BIGOTRY and/or DISCRIMINATION, take your pick. He is frankly hateful towards anyone of a differing opinion or political leaning, rather than offering objective facts, his rhetoric is almost always liberally sprinkled with emotive and manipulative labelling.
Where was the call after the Rally for Aleppo, turned into a Rally for the Supremacy of Islam, for the arrest of those offering violence to Australian citizens and threatening our sovereignty?
The most surprising response was from Diana Abdel Rahman, who claims “Multiculturalism is about culture, the race and the make-up of the individual and how we can come together and celebrate the cultural successes we have, and not just food and dance,” she said. But even she did not concede that people were upset about the lack of diversity, culture, date, history, and the political and religious statement of underage girls in hijab, used on in the updated #putthembackup visual, in Canberra. Instead she said “What concerns me is that the same people who are threatening and being abusive about Muslims are the same ones that complain about Muslims not integrating or being part of Australian society,”
Again with the emotive language and false accusations, but without realising it she points out the major, deliberate flaw this advertising has used to make its political point. This image does not show integration, this image does not show diversity, this image does not show Muslims being part of Australian society. Instead this image shows one religion to the exclusion of all others, staying apart and unbending. To too many people a child in a hijab is an image of a child suffering physical and mental abuse. To make matters worse this image was funded by human rights abusers who wish to see Sharia Law in place globally. This image does not represent most or even a majority of immigrants. People’s objections are myriad but for the most part not racist, not bigoted, not intolerant…
People knew the ad was political, and they knew that they risked being labelled by daring to speak against it. We knew that they wanted a hateful response from “the right”, when it didn’t eventuate they attempted, poorly to twist events, words and context.
I find it hard to believe, the public have swallowed this “Billboard Bogans are Just Racists” so willingly, given the foiled attacks so soon before Christmas, the calls for Australia to be under Islamic Law at what was meant to be a rally in support of the victims of Aleppo, all victims not just Muslims.
Where are the politicians condemning the racists, misogynist, homophobes, traitors, intolerants and bigots amongst these political and religious agitators and recruiters of Australia’s Islamic community?
Yet words that are not even ours have been used to condemn us as “Far Right Activists”, unproven accusations have been presented as facts, and comments deliberately inflated and taken out of context. Something that would not be accepted behaviour by the media or politicians, if we too were considered a protected minority.
I contacted the author of the ABC article, ABC News and the Canberra Times requesting any sort of evidence of a bomb or other direct threats to the theatre as a result of the public outcry, also evidence of racism and bigotry. They have at this point not replied to my requests for some form of evidence to back up any of their claims.
As far as I am concerned, there is no evidence of a bomb threat, there is no evidence of a serious threat of any kind, unless you deliberately take a handful out of context and photoshop into one picture for the gullible public. There is also very little evidence of racism or bigotry as you can see, unless you cherry pick the comments. Respect Australia, did not make any videos, the 2nd video was not taken by a member of any group, nor were all those who attended the site to see the ad, members of Reclaim Australia Canberra Inc.
What we saw was a successful (somewhat) grassroots campaign, spread by word of mouth, to express our displeasure at was is not an image of multiculturalism but an image of Australia as a purely Islamic State. An image of Australia oppressing children. And despite media and political attempts to control the narrative, we were actually heard by thousands upon thousands of Aussies across social media platforms.
Well done everyone who used their voice (or their keyboard)!!!