Uthman Badar has had his Opera House FODI (Festival of Dangerous Ideas) talk cancelled due to the backlash against it’s title : “Honour killings are morally justified”.

Caroline Strange wrote that removing Badar from the FODI forum denies access to a discussion on the topic of honour killings.

Badam says he is a victim of anti-Muslim “hysteria”.

To me it is merely the advertising campaign that is to blame.

Who chose the title of Badar’s talk?

FODI’s Simon Longstaff said that Badar “consented to the title” so Badar did not create it himself.

It is a double-barrelled oxymoron in my eyes.

I bet there would have been no backlash and indeed a full audience if the title had merely been “Honour Killings”.

I think I could have even coped with the title “Honour Killings are justified” because that creates enough instant resistance to take an interest and also poses enough space for the average Australian to grasp the need for explanation and background before jumping to conclusions. We are all unwary of shock advertising tactics that have become the norm in order to gain sales.

Whack in the “moral” bit and that is where the trouble starts. Morality is so subjective, whether isolated within an individual, as a family unit, as a community or as a whole religion. It irks us when our politicians start to justify actions based on what they personally believe is morally right, especially if it has some religious affiliation. Generally in Australia, people don’t want to be told what is right or wrong – they want to choose for themselves.

The little I know about honour killings come from recent examples cited in the media, stories written on the web, reports from humanitarian organisations and old movies. And I am aware that –

…honour crimes’ are by no means limited to Muslim communities, but to many communities where the family has a rigid patrifocal basis, and where non-consensual marriage is the norm, including Hindus and Sikhs, Druze and Yezidi, Christian and others, in a wide variety of countries; historians will be aware that ‘honour’ killing was acceptable within many Mediterranean countries and China within the last few generations, and many other places besides.

Furthermore, honour killings also have male victims in a number of cases.

If a talk was presented on how the ripple effect develops in an honour killing within a family and community, I would be all ears as that is a social phenomenon I am totally ignorant of. I read that Batar wanted to present the talk about honour killings as a way of showing that Westerners take a notion and run with it in order to vilify Islamic belief. That’s a pretty common phenomenon generally: people pick and choose examples of the “other” to justify their own beliefs; politicians do it all the time.

But we shall never know.

Ironic considering the act of an honour killing dismisses the idea of personal voice.


Share via