The crux of the matter will turn on whether you can vilify a religion or an idea. Simply, can an idea or a religion have rights? I can see and understand the arguments for vilifying a person and can comprehend the idea that a person has rights. However, I am less convinced that an idea, and religions are ideas, have rights which can be protected by a vilification or hate speech law.
The issue stems from two incidents. The first is where Sheik Faiz Mohamad told a gathering at an Islamic Youth Centre in Liverpool that women who dressed in skimpy clothing only had themselves to blame if they were raped. Essentially, the Sheik said that a woman is to blame where a man cannot control his sexual urges.
This brought on an outburst from Jones that saw him saying that all Lebanese Muslims were "vermin" and "a national security problem". It did not stop there for Jones, as over the next several days in April 2005 he referred to the "much discredited Lakemba Mosque" and added it was time to "take the gloves off and teach these bastards" (presumably a lesson in the Australian way).
But the words keep coming with, "we are far too tolerant of these people, we have to take out the root cause". On another occasion Jones said, "They have no connection to us. They simply rape, pillage and plunder a nation that's taken them in. I can't believe what I'm seeing. What did we do as a nation to have this vermin infest our shores? Tell me we don't have a national security problem in the making."
This prompted Keysar Trad of the Islamic Friendship Association of Australia to lodge a complaint at the Anti-Discrimination Board. After two years the Board failed to reach a decision but instead referred the matter to Administrative Decisions Tribunal Equal Opportunity Division.
The gist of Trad's complaint is that Jones had "expressed hatred towards, serious contempt for, or severe ridicule of a person or a group of persons on the grounds of [their] race". Furthermore, Trad alleges that the Jones tirade suggested that Muslims and particularly Lebanese Muslims are "despicable people", "unsuitable immigrants" who "do not and cannot assimilate". The Trad complaint also alleges that Jones suggested that members of Muslim communities were "prone to commit sexual assaults", were "parasites", and "an internal danger to the security of the country".
It is unclear whether Trad is going to have any more luck at the Equal Opportunity Division but the EOD has asked Trad to elaborate his complaint. This would suggest that the complaint is not going to be dismissed out of hand.
I will try and follow this case and post on it if and when juicy stuff becomes available (photo is from the SMH).