Australian newspaper publishes image of Muslim leader Grand Mufti Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohamed as a monkey

The Daily Telegraph in Sydney used the 'see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil' illustration on its front page

Victoria Richards
Thursday 19 November 2015 10:40
Comments
Egyptian-born and educated Australian Muslim scholar and Grand Mufti of Australia Ibrahim Abu Mohamed
Egyptian-born and educated Australian Muslim scholar and Grand Mufti of Australia Ibrahim Abu Mohamed

An Australian newspaper has prompted outrage after it published a front-page illustration of the Grand Mufti of Australia Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohamed mocked up as a monkey.

Sydney's Daily Telegraph used three images of the Muslim leader, who was born in Egypt, based on the famous "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" triptych.

But in replacing the monkeys with Dr Mohamed, and adding the words: "Sees no problem, hears no concerns, speaks no English", alongside the headline: "The unwise Mufti", the newspaper has been branded "Islamophobic" by some on social media.

The saying stems from a Japanese proverb in which three wise monkeys - Mizaru, Kikazaru and Iwazaru - are depicted with their hands over their eyes, ears and mouths respectively, often used to describe someone who turns a blind eye to undesirable information or behaviour.

But, as highlighted by the Guardian, it is considered extremely poor taste to depict anyone of Asian, African or Middle Eastern origin in poses usually reserved for monkeys, and people have duly taken to Twitter to brand the image "alienating", "irresponsible" and even tantamount to "inciting terrorism".

The controversial front page was apparently designed to highlight criticism of the Mufti's reaction to the news of the terror attacks in Paris, as told through a press statement released to the media.

In the statement, he said: "These recent incidents highlight the fact that current strategies to deal with the threat of terrorism are not working.

"It is therefore imperative that all causative factors such as racism, Islamophobia, curtailing freedoms through securitisation, duplicitous foreign policies and military intervention must be comprehensively addressed."

The Mufti also left a comment on his Facebook page on the day of the shootings and bombings, saying his thoughts were "with the victims, families and people of Paris and Beirut at this time of unspeakable horror".

But he was accused of shifting blame and of failing to respond appropriately to the attacks.

Facebook user Peter Amoy wrote: "Not surprised the Mufti 'muffed' it. It's just a continuation of a long list of lost opportunities to bridge the growing rift between muslims and non-muslims in Australia.

"The Mufti's original response to the Paris attacks was universally condemned. The Grand Mufti just does not get it does he?"

The Daily Telegraph opened its front page piece with the words: "Australia’s grand mufti faced widespread criticism yesterday for his stubborn refusal to condemn the Paris terror attacks.

"Instead, Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohamed has attempted to shift blame for the massacre on everything from 'racism' to 'Islamophobia'."

Dr Ameer Ali, former chairman of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, spoke about the issues raised by the Daily Telegraph.

“The problem I have with the Mufti is he cannot communicate in English," he said. "That means he has to rely on the people around him."

The newspaper has since defended its use of the monkey image, claiming Dr Mohamed had in fact been amused when he saw it, and that he had said, through his translator: “I laughed and I laughed.”

If we look at the messiah Jesus Christ as well, who was mocked by his people

&#13; <p>Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohamed</p>&#13;

He was also said to have compared it to the mockery of prophets in the past, telling radio station 2UE: "“If we look at the messiah Jesus Christ as well, who was mocked by his people."

Dr Mohamed later issued another statement, saying he and his Australian National Imams Council “consistently and unequivocally condemned all forms of terrorist violence”.

He called the actions of Isis a "crime against religion" and said there was "no justification for the taking of innocent lives” by Isis, a group also known as Daesh an IS.

But he said he believed "the simple and sole condemnation of Daesh or IS for what it is, is not going to be enough".

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in