The media spokesperson for Hizb-ut-Tahrir,  Uthman Badar has had his name and face plastered all over the media last week over his upcoming speech at Sydney’s Festival of Dangerous Ideas (FODI). The title of his talk advertised as “Honor killings Are Morally Justified”, sparked a huge backlash from Islamaphobes and radio shock jocks.

“It is no secret that both media and politicians seek to polarise the community into ‘moderates’ and ‘radicals’ and exploit these divisions for their agenda”

 Postdoctral Researcher for Muslim and non-Muslim Understanding, Dr Yassir Morsi said “Islamophobia is the exploiting Muslims for one’s own fantasies. In that sense Badar was both victim and its unwilling accomplice.” The article mentions that “the festival’s organisers were so insensitive… they exploited the feelings about victims and those left to deal with honour killings” and basically used Badar as a publicity stunt, although “Badar ought to have intuitively known better…about the industry of stereotyping.”

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Although the FODI organisers and Badar himself explained their intentions behind the speech, the Australian media were relentless in propagating the misunderstanding that Badar was going to justify and defend honour killings.

Displaying images of a close ups of his face next to texts of “Hizb-ut-Tahrir”, “Honour” and “Killings”, it almost seemed like a set up to drag Uthman Badar’s name and reputation in the mud. He was used as a means to start up controversy and sell tickets. The momentum and extent to which the controversy led up to, was incredibly telling about how Muslims are so easily demonised as extremists.

Badar has responded on social media with “I read the Daily Telegraph’s article claiming that “Australian Islamic leaders” were criticising Hizb-ut-Tahrir and demanding that we stop voicing “vile sermons” and “inflammatory messages”, early this morning.” Badar decided to confirm the alleged comments, as “It is no secret that both media and politicians seek to polarise the community into ‘moderates’ and ‘radicals’ and exploit these divisions for their agenda” and confirmed with the the Grand Mufti of Australia, Dr Ibrahim Abu Muhammad that these alleged comments were false.

There were a number of beat up propositions from the media and that cancelling the talk was not enough and that Hizb-ut-Tahrir was a Muslim extremist organisation and that FODI was just desperate to uphold its “dangerous ideas”, but were not prepared for the backlash.

Ruby Hamad, writer for Daily Life said “Cancelling the talk is not enough. The Festival owes an apology to the Muslim community who have once again been tarnished through no fault of their own. It owes an apology to victims of honour crimes, and -as much as I disagree with the views of his organisation- it even owes an apology to Badar.”