NSW government figures have slammed plans for the Sydney Opera House to host a lecture examining whether honour killings can be morally justified, as the lecturer urges critics to ‘calm down’ and wait to hear him out.
The annual Festival of Dangerous Ideas provoked a social media backlash on Tuesday with the announcement that its line-up this year includes a talk entitled ‘Honour killings are morally justified,’ to be delivered by Uthman Badar, a writer and spokesman for Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir.
Minister for Women Pru Goward and Minister for Citizenship and Communities Victor Dominello have both spoken out.
‘The justification of honour killings has no place in this country, and frankly I’m surprised the idea is being entertained,’ Ms Goward said in a statement.
‘Free speech is one thing, but to advocate the honour killing of women is abhorrent and goes against Australian values.’
Mr Dominello condemned any move to allow a defence of honour killings to be aired in the iconic Opera House.
‘Allowing one of our most precious cultural institutions to be used as a forum to justify the murder of innocent women is outrageously reckless,’ he said.
Their statements echoed a slew of comments on Twitter, where ABC broadcaster Mark Colvin wrote, ‘Some ideas are dangerous: others are just repellent’, and writer Francesca Newby added that ‘Murdering women and girls isn’t a ‘dangerous idea’, it’s a criminal reality’.
Another Twitter user, Sam Quigley, joked: ‘You asked; we listened. Presenting the 2015 Festival of Ideas Exactly as Dangerous as Malcolm Turnbull’s Leather Jacket!’
Mr Badar has indicated he does not intend to defend honour killings in his lecture.
His tweeted response to one critic who wrote, ‘Any one who condones or justifies the murder of defenceless women is a gutless creep’, was: ‘I’m with you on that. Calm down.’
‘Overwhelmingly, those who condemn honour killings are based in the liberal democracies of the West,’ a blurb for Mr Badar’s event reads.
‘The accuser and moral judge is the secular (white) westerner and the accused is the oriental other; the powerful condemn the powerless.’
Hizb ut-Tahrir advocates the establishment of a global caliphate, or Islamic state, including an independent judiciary.
The group garnered headlines last year when it criticised the federal government for forcing Islamic schools in Australia to commemorate Anzac Day, prompting Prime Minister Tony Abbott to declare the group had ‘some pretty dodgy views, to say the least’.