Wednesday, 3 November 2010

we're quite capable of speaking for ourselves

i have to say that i'm pretty appalled by the news that the office of ethnic affairs decided to pull support from a carnival because it decided that photos on the carnival website would offend muslims.

The office had earlier agreed for its logo to be used for the carnival but says it now wants nothing to do with it after being informed that "inappropriate pictures" had been used on the carnival website.

"It has since come to our attention that there are what our stakeholders, particularly those in the Muslim community, may consider to be highly inappropriate pictures on the carnival website. Consequently, OEA has reconsidered our involvement with the event," OEA director Mervin Singham said in a letter to the organisers.

now i've known mervin singham for many years, and i know to be an eminently reasonable person, full of compassion and common sense. i haven't yet seen a response from him on this issue, so hesitate to criticise someone i respect deeply without hearing more from him about it. having said that, i would be deeply upset if he took this action on behalf of the muslim community without having consulted at least some of the muslim community about it.

as the former fianz president (and current vice-president) mentions in the article, there were no complaints received by the body that represents muslims nationally. in fact, i've not seen any evidence that any muslim had complained about this carnival or the website.

i really object to people taking offence "on behalf" of muslims, which i've briefly written about before. it just feeds into that notion of all muslims being intolerant people who want to push their views on everyone else, or randomly restrict the activities of other people. i've never seen any evidence of that either - most muslims would choose to not attend a function or event if they weren't happy with what was happening there, but i've yet to see any concerted effort by muslims in this country to prevent some other community from doing their own thing.

that the OEA would choose to put the muslim community in the position of being accused of such things just seems quite odd. perhaps they didn't think through the consequences of their action. or maybe they were genuinely concerned that they'd get a reduced level of participation from the muslim community. until we hear some explanation from them, it's hard to tell. but playing off one culture against another like this, without any consultation with the group you are claiming to be sensitive towards, well it's not good enough.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I do love Jocelyn Sasa's "sorry, nope, we don't have the funding to reprint everything and if you aren't going to pitch in you can lump it" response.

I think there's also a massive issue of identity for the OEA - and it's one of the core problems of just lumping everyone non-white into Ethnic Affairs - you simply cannot reconcile the different cultural standards and mores of every non-Western-white-English-speaking group on the planet.

So surely *any* event the OEA lends its branding to is potentially going to face pissing off at least *one* of the many many stakeholder groups it's supposed to represent?