Peoples Geography — Reclaiming space

Creating people's geographies

ACTME: Sheikh al-Hilali and the Wisdom of Solomon

al-hilaly-abc-australia.jpg News item:

Sheikh will step aside, Muslim colleague says (ABC)


ACTME Press Release [with interesting misogynistic quotes from all three Abrahamic religions; see latter half]




Welcome to a media correction and information service, ACTME. The name is self-explanatory … This service goes to over 100 media and political contacts.

29 October 2006
Sheikh al-Hilali and the Wisdom of Solomon
ACTME finds the recent unreconstructed remarks of Sheikh al-Hilali on the theme of a woman’s ‘power’ to bring men undone sexist and offensive. However, we concur with the words of Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty in his recent speech to the South Australian Press Club that “many in the community also say offensive things and many of them are white Caucasian Australians.”

We also agree with Commissioner Keelty when he pointed out that rising vilification of Muslims was being fuelled by irresponsible media outlets which sensationalised terrorism-related stories with little basis in fact.

Keelty also warned about the impact on Australian society of such vilification. It is vilification, picking them out of the crowd because they dress differently or they speak differently. ‘If we are not careful we risk raising a generation of Australians who will have a bias against Islam’ – and about the consequences of marginalising Australian Muslims […]

Media blamed for Islam bias’, The Australian, 27/10/06

Regarding those irresponsible media outlets, Commissioner Keelty appropriately singled out Rupert Murdoch’s The Australian in his Adelaide speech.

It is interesting to compare the prominence given to al-Hilali’s traditional but deeply misogynistic words in The Australian with the corresponding restraint of The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH).

The figures below explain Commissioner Keelty’s concern:


  • SMH – 0 paragraphs
  • The Australian – 26 paragraphs & 3 pictures


  • SMH – 34 paragraphs & 1 picture
  • The Australian – 296 paragraphs & 14 pictures

It is also of interest to note The Australian’s coverage of the recent racist remarks made by Israel’s ambassador to Australia, Naftali Tamir: in contrast to the multiple pages, the editorial, the feature article and the opinion piece devoted to al-Hilali on 27/10 we got a mere 12 paragraphs on 17 October. [See ACTME’s pieces on 16 & 21 October]

ACTME also makes the point that al-Hilali’s reference to women as potential temptresses may be found in the Bible, particularly in the book of Proverbs:

“Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes, for the prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread, and the adultress preys upon your very life. Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched?” (Proverbs 6:24-28)

The speaker is none other than Solomon.

Solomon again:

“I saw among the simple, I noticed among the young men, a youth who lacked judgment. He was going down the street near her corner, walking along in the direction of her house…Then out came a woman to meet him, dressed like a prostitute and with crafty intent. (She is loud and defiant, her feet never stay at home; now in the street, now in the squares, at every corner she lurks.) She took hold of him and kissed him and with a brazen face she said: ‘…I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon. Come, let’s drink deep of love till morning; let’s enjoy ourselves with love!…’ With persuasive words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk. All at once he followed her like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose…” (Proverbs 7:7-22)

Then we have St Paul in 1 Timothy 2:9-10:

“I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds…I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man; she must be silent.”

And when it comes to women, certain Jewish texts and traditionsalso reflect this misogynistic strain:-

“Sexual intercourse between a married Jewish woman and any man other than her husband is a capital offence…The status of Gentile women is very different. The Halakhah [ie the body of Jewish religious law] presumes all Gentiles to be utterly promiscuous and the verse ‘whose flesh is as the flesh of asses, and whose issue [of semen] is like the issue of horses’ is applied to them…[in the event of sex between a Jewish man and a Gentile woman] the main punishment is inflicted on the Gentile woman; she must be executed, even if she was raped by the Jew.”
Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years by Israel Shahak, p87

“The Haredim [‘God-fearing’ in Hebrew – whose Jewish fundamentalists who refuse modern innovations] repeatedly refer to Jewish women, engaged in politics, as witches, bitches or demons. Although a bit crude at times in the use of descriptive language, the Haredim approach mirrors to a great extent traditional Judaism’s broadly based position regarding women. This position not only restricts the rights of women but in many ways holds women in contempt. Rule 8 in Chapter 3 of the Kitzur Shulhan Aruch… an elementary textbook for Jews with little Talmudic education, for example, dictates: ‘A male should not walk between two females or two dogs or two pigs…In [Haredi] neighborhoods women who are ‘dressed immodestly’ are often insulted and/or assaulted…The numerous misogynistic statements in the Talmud and in Talmudic literature constitute a part of every Haredi male’s sacred study. The statement in Tractate Shabat, page 152b, defining a woman is exemplary: ‘A woman is a sack full of excrement.'”

(from Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel by Israel Shahak & Norton Mezvinsky.)

ACTME can’t help but think in these troubled times that it’s not so much what is said as who is saying it.

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Timely Reminders

"Those who crusade, not for God in themselves, but against the devil in others, never succeed in making the world better, but leave it either as it was, or sometimes perceptibly worse than what it was, before the crusade began. By thinking primarily of evil we tend, however excellent our intentions, to create occasions for evil to manifest itself."
-- Aldous Huxley

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-- Diane DiPrima, "Rant", from Pieces of a Song.

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yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there"
-- William Carlos Williams, "Asphodel, That Greeny Flower"