Headings, shorts and comments -The downfall of real communication?

Hizb ut-Tahrir member’s speech at Festival of Dangerous Ideas is pulled by Sydney Opera House amid flood of online protest

………A Sydney-based Muslim speaker whose planned lecture on “honour” killings was cancelled by the Sydney Opera House on Tuesday night in the wake of public outcry does not believe the barbaric murders of women are justified, organisers say.

The St James Ethics Centre arranged the lecture called “Honour killings are morally justified” for the Festival of Dangerous Ideas in August. It was to be delivered by the public face of Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir, Uthman Badar, but quickly provoked a flood of angry comments on Twitter and the Opera House Facebook page.

The executive director of the centre, Simon Longstaff AO, said people had not read beyond the title of the lecture, which was intended to be a discussion about how honour is used as a justification for a range of acts, including going to war and murder.

“Uthman’s view is that no form of vigilante killing is justified,” Longstaff said.

“So while honour killings are not what he believes in, he does believe there is a context in which this does happen and where those people believe they are justified.

“We wanted to begin having a conversation about these killings, which should never happen and yet the fact is, there are societies that allow it to. We wanted to examine how that is the case.”…………………………………


Facebook and twitter responses are nothing if not predictable. Their message is usually brief by virtue of the medium and public interest is fickle remaining only as long as the tweeting respondents commitment to the issue.

If we don’t talk about things like this our ignorance will continue to exceed our awareness. We are not the font of all knowledge. None of us knows everything, but we would all be guilty of comment from anassumed superior position of ethics or cultural supremacy. The belief in the ‘civilised’ nature our education and our history is the highest error.

Someone responded on facebook saying that entertaining the discussion at all was “like entertaining discussing murdering children!” as if there is some highbrow moral position about not talking about killing people. Humans kill other humans daily, children, women and men. This happens either directly through murder and war or indirectly through funding murder and war or eating more than our share.

Discussion that exposes us to tribal and cultural rationales we are unaware of, or beliefs that concern themselves with killing to retain family  honour should not be stopped by the Opera House fear of stupid tweets.

Uthman believes “hysteria has done its job” and that it has.