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Date Monday, 16 March 2009 Source House
Page 2817 Proof No
Questioner Responder
Speaker Simpkins, Luke, MP Question No.

Mr SIMPKINS (Cowan) (8.50 pm)—I was recently handed the magazine of the Barnabas Fund, Barnabas Aid, which supports hope and aid for the persecuted church. I was fascinated to read of an issue of great importance to me and a great many people in Cowan. The issue is apostasy, which in this case is where a Muslim converts to Christianity and faces extreme consequences that in various countries include murder, imprisonment, harassment, beatings, torture, rape and a wide range of other persecution undertaken either as a legally sanctioned punishment or by family or others in the community who believe that their actions are justified under the scriptures. This issue is about religious intolerance, and this is the grievance I wish to speak to. To begin with, I would like to speak briefly about the petition to this place being advanced by the Barnabas Fund. The petition calls on the House to support efforts by Muslims to have the apostasy law reformed and for the House to encourage other governments to pursue abolition of the offence and of punishments for apostasy. I encourage the Barnabas Fund to continue to highlight this important issue and progress their petition. It is neither right nor legitimate for any religion to justify threats against and punishments and persecutions of those who choose to leave one religion for another. In my view it is clear that such a position of persecution of dissidents is wrong and should be opposed. Furthermore, any religion that promotes or justifies the persecution of apostates cannot be considered true or genuine. Sadly, it appears that only in 2007 in Norway did a nationally representative Muslim organisation affirm the right to convert from one faith to another without fear of harassment or violence. This is not reassuring, and I wonder where the leadership is on this matter here in Australia. By that I mean: what is the Islamic leadership’s position on such matters? Surely condemnation of such barbarism can be expected. Of course, the actions of a few can always be dismissed as misinterpretation of the scriptures, so I will just speak briefly of that. Such misinterpretations could be quickly cleared up by unequivocal public statements by the leadership. It would be great to see public condemnation of the ill-treatment of converts to Christianity. It would be great to hear of clear public statements that the Koran does not justify or condone any ill-treatment of converts. It does not seem that there have been any such statements, and I wonder what the silence really means. It is unclear whether it is a lack of will or it is just not possible. I say this because, under sharia’s five main schools, death sentences are prescribed for men. This is correct, because it is required under the four Sunni options —Hanafi, Shafi’i, Maliki and Hanbali—and is also prescribed under the Shia Jafari school of sharia. It seems that the differences in each school revolve around the time allowed to repent, whether the apostasy needs to be spoken, the manner in which it is spoken, the number of witnesses et cetera. The punishment for women is death in most cases, but under the Hanafi school it is imprisonment until the woman repents. Under the Shia version she can be imprisoned and beaten with rods until she repents or dies. I struggle to identify evidence of a civilised or tolerant religion when these are the only possible outcomes prescribed under sharia. I would now like to draw on some examples of the application of the Islamic attitude to those who turn away from Islam to Christianity. Firstly, in Saudi Arabia, we have the case of Fatima al-Mutairi, who became a Christian after discovering Jesus on the internet. Her brother cut out her tongue and burnt her to death. Saudi law allows execution as punishment, but, because her brother did it, a lenient sentence seems likely. I understand that some of her family’s pride has been restored because she was murdered by her brother. This is nothing short of barbaric. Sudan also has the death penalty for apostasy, or converting, from Islam. In Iran in recent years apostates have been murdered or beaten to death. On 2 September last year, provisional approval was granted by the Iranian parliament for the establishment of the death penalty for apostates, where before judges had used other laws to justify the death penalty for men and lifelong imprisonment for women. I find there are two problems with the continuation of medieval laws. One is the very fact that the death penalty can be imposed in many countries around the world, especially considering the rationale behind it being religious preference. This by itself is outrageous enough, but to allow the continuation of it represents a terrible influence on Muslims who can then use that very law or even text from a holy book as an excuse for persecution, harassment or even murder. These actions taken against converts to Christianity have even been taken by family members. The reality of this is that there are deep matters at the core of the problem. These are deep problems at the core of a religion that many of us find incomprehensible and, in many ways, reprehensible. I say these things at the risk of being branded an Islamophobe, a term designed to repress free speech and alternative views. The subjugation of women, arranged marriages and even punishment by rape have been reported and justified under Islam. These are not consistent with Western attitudes. Why then, in contrast, are converts to Islam celebrated in the West as evidence of great tolerance? Those who convert away from Islam to Christianity are not similarly supported or protected. In the United Kingdom, the government and some parts of their society have gone out of their way to demonstrate their fair treatment and acceptance of Islamic people by such celebrations of Muslim converts and by allowing limited sharia law. This sometimes gives me cause to wonder, in the case of Muslims converting to Christianity, if this is some source of embarrassment for those who seek to demonstrate their lack of bias against Muslims.What concerns me is that in the United Kingdom and perhaps elsewhere governments have, in their attempts to demonstrate equality and fairness, provided additional rights or promotions to Muslims rather than just ensured that they have no fewer rights than anyone else in society. The greatest example of this remains the introduction of sharia law. Regardless of it being limited or unlimited, it is an additional right given to a narrow section of the community and it is wrong. Any attempt to introduce it in Australia in any capacity and in any location should be rejected and vigorously opposed. People in Cowan raise these matters with me frequently—it is almost surprising how frequently— and this demonstrates to me that the subject is of great concern to a lot of my constituents. However, when they raise it with me, I always say to them the following: Australia is a very tolerant country. If someone wants to come here and work to provide for their family and they have respect for the values and institutions of our society then it does not matter about the colour of their skin or their choice of religion; wewelcome them. The opposite of this is where someone wants to come here and impose different institutions or values on Australia; then I say they are not welcome. Sharia law is exactly such an example, and I join with the majority of Australians in rejecting any attempt to establish it here. From the examples of the Islamic approach to converts away from the Muslim faith in almost every place in the world, this system of religion based law is inconsistent with our values and the institutions of Australian society. This truth remains self-evident now and forever more.

3 Responses to “Speech By Australian MP – on Islamic Apostasy & Shari’a Law”

  1. 1 Margaret Shepley

    thanks for this speech. Many of us feel like we are being overrun by another religion that is bent on taking us over.

    In the Public housing area of Riverwood, every mail box has just received a CD and brochure on Islam. My friend is concerned.
    If we did that in a muslim country we would be killed.

    Below is a video that has made a huge impression on me. It shows our recponsibilities as Christians to recognise the two
    most important commantments – to love your God with all your heart and to love your neighbour as yourself.
    Please spare the 30 minutes to look at it.

    Subject: Video – The Five Deceptions Of Islam – – Shalom Giordano


  2. 2 Gordon Young

    Mr. Luke Simpkins MP, member for Cowan. It was very encouraging to read your speech regarding the proposed apostacy law, which Muslims are trying to enforce in Iran. I admire Luke Simpkins stance against this proposed law. I also admire the Barnabas Funds stance against this proposed law also. I was also impressed by Luke Simpkins knowledge of persecution done to Christians in the name of Islam in Muslim countries. Christians have been murdered, tortured, imprisoned and Christian women have been raped in countries like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Egypt, Somalia and in many other Muslim countries. The Christians have been treated like this by Muslims for the simple fact of being Christians or for leaving Islam and becoming Christians. It is unacceptable in the 21st Century that this barbaric behaviour is happening. In Nigeria a woman was stoned to death because she was speaking for Jesus. Christian children have been murdered and girls as young as 10 have been kidnapped and forced to become Muslims and have been forced to marry Muslims. This is absolutely pathetic and barbaric, surely there should be human rights for children in these countries. I agree with you also Mr. Simpkins that Australia is a very free, democratic country and we allow everyone their beliefs in a democracy we can be proud of. What concerns me is Muslims who come to our country and try to take the freedoms and democracy we have off us. I am concerned that if too many Muslims immigrate to Australia they may vote themselves into parliament and introduce laws where we would not be allowed to speak against Islam. Already two Christians in Australia were charged for speaking against Islam in Victoria in recent times. Although I believe the charges were dropped. In a democracy like Australia people are free to speak against the Christian faith that I have without fear of persecution from Christians. The Islamic practices in places like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Sudan, Afghanistan and throughout the middle east does not allow Christians to speak against Islam. Islamic law is not only evil and cruel, it is also against the democracy Australia is proud of. I applaud your stand Mr. Simpkins.

  3. 3 Terry Halse

    I congratulate Mr. Simpkin for his clear and informative speach. It is high time that Australia acted to prevent the promulgation of the recessive and barbaric teachings of Islam. He justifiably calls for Islamic leadership to openly and publically renounce Islam’s teachings that encourages this type of barbaric behaviour. This so called religion of peace has failed to renounce that part of Quaranic teaching that advocates violence against non-muslims and converts to other religions.
    What other organisation in this country could get away with a similar content in their ‘holy book’ or ‘mission statement’- I dare say that they would be soon outlawed. One wonders if Islam should not face a similar fate in the absence of any coherent statements or teachings that clearly and irrevocably renounce such teachings.

    How long are we going to allow ‘freedom of religion’ to be a cloak and an encouragement for illegality!

    Where are the other politicians with guts and common sense?

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