Will anti-Islam link discredit Permaculture?

Story by Russ Grayson, December 2014

A Northern NSW "permaculture farmer" calling for a boycott of halal foods and linked with an alleged far-right anti-Islamic group could bring the permaculture design system into disrepute if her beliefs are taken to be representative of permaculture.

Her name is Kirralie Smith and her story was carried by the Sydney Morning Herald online on 28 December this year.

The Herald lead describes Kirralie as " …a permaculture farmer from northern New South Wales and a mother of three. She is also the public face of the virulent campaign to boycott halal food and products."

[pull_quote align="right"]We aim to Not buy halal products & services, because they fund Islamic expansion by any means[/pull_quote]

It continues: " …Smith's Facebook page Boycott Halal in Australia has 41,000 supporters. She speaks at events organised by 'Islam-critical' groups such as the Q Society, which has also been involved in local campaigns to stop mosques being built. Her Halal Choices website, she says, gets 80,000 visitors a month."

Boycott Halal in Australia says in its 'about' column's general information that: "We aim to Not buy halal products & services, because they fund Islamic expansion by any means" (punctuation reported as is).

A 27 December posting on the group's Facebook seeks to disassociate itself from Kirralie: Another article - Why halal certification is in turmoil... with lots of information from our Page - but again the False Assumption that Kirralie Smith is involved here at Boycott Halal - which she is not & she is as flabbergasted as we are by this Media confusion.

"Note that Kirralie Smith is behind the very informative HALAL CHOICES website and is featured in the excellent Q Society Video about Halal Certification which we often feature... but she is not involved here at Boycott Halal."

[pull_quote align="right"]Businesses themselves have to accept the blame for any loss and can only bring themselves discredit by choosing to be bullied by the anti-Islam lobbyists[/pull_quote]

The Herald article describes how the anti-halal movement applies pressure on Australian food companies to drop halal certification, a move successful in one instance but resisted by other food companies. A 21 November article in New Matilda this year reported that the Byron Bay Cookie Company was hounded about its halal certified Anzac cookies and that South Australia's Fleurieu Milk and Yogurt Company was forced to back out of a contract to supply Emirates airline.

There are implications in this strategy for Australian food exporters. Businesses themselves have to accept the blame for any loss and can only bring themselves discredit by choosing to be bullied by the anti-Islam lobbyists rather than stand up to them in a public way that focuses attention on the Islamophobe's tactics and agenda.

Halal foods are certified as appropriate for Moslems just as kosher foods are certified for consumption by Jews. The article goes on to discuss the halal certification process and controversies within it.

Kirralie, who has a BA in theology, says halal certification imposes costs on food for all Australians and constitutes a religious tax. She wants the Corporations Act 2001 changed so that only Moslems bear the cost of halal certification. In an October 2012 article entitled Is Halal Funding Terrorism? on australianchristians.com.au, Kirralie says that money paid for halal certification is used, partially or in whole, for the push for sharia law (the Islamic legal code) in Australia. Yet, she doesn't link the cost of certifying kosher foods to overall food prices, nor that of certifying organic foods (although that would not constitute the alleged religious tax).

[pull_quote align="right"]…certification is a "scam" to raise money for building mosques and, by implication, for funding jihad…[/pull_quote]

Kirralie alleges that halal certification is a "scam" to raise money for building mosques and, by implication, for funding jihad. The Q Society video linked to her website says that halal certification was not traditionally required of Moslems in past times and is now a means to make money.

The Herald reported that the Australian Crime Commission had found no links between the legitimate halal certification industry and the financing of terrorist organisations.

The Q Society, with which Kirralie is linked, describes itself on its website as anti-Islamic — the words are the heading of one of the website's drop-down menus. Click it, and you find this: "For too long Islam has enjoyed immunity from necessary analysis, due criticism and debate because of its status as 'just a religion'. Unfortunately, if we continue to tolerate Islam without understanding it, Australia as a free, secular democracy will be lost…".

The Society also warns against "…the systematic Islamisation of our schools in textbooks, curriculum, tuck shops, uniforms and installation of parallel rules". It describes itself as a not-for-profit "civil rights organisation… to inform Australians about Islam".

The Age newspaper on 23 June 2014, in an article entitled Far-right group spreading anti-mosque message in Bendigo, disclosed that the Society was behind the campaign against the building of a mosque in the Victorian city.

In an 26 June 2014 article on news.com entitled Revealed: The secretive Q Society’s battle against Islam, the Q society was described this way: "THEY are a group of 'concerned citizens', but are very hesitant to say who they really are. If you want to go to one of their meetings, you have to sign a nondisclosure agreement.

"Their only address is a PO Box in suburban Melbourne. They won’t say exactly where their money comes from and say they never will.
And they are very opposed to Islam in Australia. The secretive organisation known as the Q Society has this week been linked to a noisy campaign to stop the construction of a mosque in Bendigo, Victoria."

A challenge to permaculture's reputation

Permaculture is a practice with a broad range of participants. There are Greens supporters, Labor supporters and — who knows? — even Liberal supporters. There are people from the different flavours of Left and the Right and those who seek a better way than adherence to tired, Twentieth Century ideologies. There are Christians, Buddhists, agnostics, atheists, Jews and — yes, Moslems too (perhaps the most prominent being the Permaculture Research Institute's educators and consultants, Geoff and Nadia Lawton).

So it should come as no surprise that a whole range of beliefs and attitudes are present within the permaculture design milieu. What has been absent however, are those actively engaged with fringe political groups who publicly identify as permaculture practitioners. It is this that is the difficulty with Kirralie's association with anti-Islam organisations.

[pull_quote align="right"]By late December other media had picked up on the Herald story and in most of the online links the word 'permaculture' appears with Kirrilie's name[/pull_quote]

As an Australian living in a democracy, Kirralie has freedom of association, including with small political groups of dubious intention. She also has her freedom to express what she thinks, including about the halal industry and Islam. Sure, that will offend some but in a democracy where you can say what you like without resorting to hate speech, you're bound to offend someone, somewhere. Offence is part of democracy.

Kirralie's being linked with permaculture risks the design system being associated with her personal beliefs and anti-Islamic activities. By late December other media had picked up on the Herald story and in most of the online links the word 'permaculture' appears with Kirrilie's name. It may be  assumed that her beliefs reflect those within the permaculture milieu and it is this that has potential to discredit the design system. Kirrale's Pinterest presence has a page on permaculture gardening.

Another issue is that pressuring food manufacturers to drop halal certification would reduce freedom of choice for those seeking those foods. That would be of concern to Australia's food sovereignty advocates such as the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance that advocate people's control over their food systems. So too should Islamophobic bullying of Australian food businesses.

The incident also raises the question as to how seriously permaculture practitioners, and Kirralie, take the Second Ethic of permaculture that talks about care of people. Can you really care for the wellbeing of people if you seek to remove the certification of the food they choose to eat?

Read more...

 

Comments

  1. Sean

    Kirralie Smith has no connection to Boycott Australia whatsoever. That article is full of inaccuracies. Ms Smiths website is Halal Choices, the Boycott Halal group is part of a worldwide organisation.
    The real laughable component is that the petition was created by an individual not representative of either group.
    Had the author carried out the most basic act of fact checking he would have never written the article he did.

    1. Redfox

      Kirralea claims not to have anything to do with them. However, they have used a lot of content with her in it, and provided links to her website (where for $5, people can buy her book). They have also moved in many of the same circles she has and attended the same events. So whilst she can make all the claims she likes not to be involved with them, it was only after the article was printed that she moved into overdrive and got a few official statements issued from Boycott Halal. So since 2010 until December 29, 2014, she was quite content to be ‘accidentally’ associated with them…

      1. Sean

        I’m sorry but that’s a bit ridiculous. Many people are against Halal Certification, that hardly means they are necessarily representative of each other. I’m opposed to certification however that hardly means that I’m automatically supportive of Pauline Hanson or Fred Nile. Many groups share information and there are many many more groups than just the two mentioned, most of which make reference to the Halal Choices website often.
        The entire fault here is of the journalist that failed to do any fact checking before he put his foot in his mouth.

  2. Sean

    To The Australian Members Of Parliament

    Halal certification, or preferably religious certification, has numerous issues surrounding it, however this letter is intended to highlight concerns that specifically relate to labelling.

    We have built a nation that has thrived on both democratic and free market principles. However those free market principles are struggling of late with regards to Religious Certification.
    If I were to walk into each of your offices, place twenty typical products in front of you and ask that you identify which of those products were certified, you would not be able to. It would of course be a loaded question as all of the products would be certified, yet none would be labelled as such. In other instances a label may exist however would be difficult to identify without the aid of magnification, or in extreme cases would only be identifiable once the packaging was opened. This is not characteristic of a free and transparent market.

    The issue is of course a two sided coin. I recently spoke with a Muslim lady that complained she had to drive miles to find Halal meat. The irony there is that approximately 80% of red meat slaughtered in Australia is Halal Certified and slaughtered under Islamic rules. The meat that is destined for export is labelled, however the meat that is destined for the local market is repackaged through wholesalers, then distributed through supermarkets and butchers. Rarely is it labelled for the consumer, despite being previously certified. The irony is that this Muslim consumer in her search for Halal meat, most likely drove past many outlets that sell the very product she was after – yet due to the current relaxed labelling laws she would have no way of knowing.

    There is a great deal of false information on both sides. As an example I’ve had many debates with people convinced certification only applies to meat, which is a bit hard to accept when you’re staring at a can of halal certified fruit. Others argue that Water and Air are Halal which clearly indicates a complete lack of understanding as to what the issues actually are.
    Then of course people argue that we have a choice, just don’t buy it! But how is there choice without disclosure? The two are mutually dependant on each other, without disclosure choice does not exist.

    The fact is most of us that argue for better labelling, simply want our own rights respected in the same way the Muslim community does, rights which we are all entitled to but currently denied.
    Australia has a multitude of laws that apply to labelling ranging from country of origin to ingredients or ownership. It seems that every aspect of labelling for goods and services in Australia is covered by at least one guideline or piece of legislation, all except of course those goods and services with a religious affiliation. As an atheist I’m curious to know why religion isn’t included?

    Labelling of goods and services with a religious affiliation should be on a 3 tier basis;

    1) Companies should be able to declare that a product or service is suitable for a specific religion. While they are already able to do this, there is no encouragement or recognised logo to help achieve this. Many products naturally comply with many religious requirements, despite this many are obligated to pay for certification. This action needs to be discouraged.

    2) Companies would be required to disclose through a clear label whether a product contains ingredients that have been certified in accordance with a specific religion, to allow the consumer to further investigate that product should he/she choose.

    3) Companies would be required to disclose through a clear label if a specific product, service or business is certified and to which religion. This is clearly the most important of the three. It is the one you need to give the greatest consideration to.

    Most media are quick to jump on the racist bigotry angle and question the logic behind linking Halal Certification to terrorism. Most media would prefer to grab the headline rather than objectively report the subject. As politicians you’re required to look beyond the headline. Speak to people, understand why tens of thousands of people are so upset. Ask why a person that prefers a company that has no religious affiliation such as Halal is labelled racist or a bigot, but a person that avoids a product made in China isn’t.
    This request for clear labelling is not unreasonable, indeed Indonesia recently introduced laws similar to what is being asked of you here. A tin of Milo as an example is certified through the Islamic Council of Victoria, yet the tin carries no such logo to indicate that so most consumers would never know. The same Tin of Milo in Indonesia however, by not displaying the Halal logo, would be subject to significant penalties. Why does Indonesia lead us with regards to labelling laws?

    There is objection to change of labelling laws such as these in Australia, we have seen examples of this in the UK where changes to their labelling laws were recently voted down in parliament by a very small margin. However we have also seen that despite being voted down, the objections to certification have not been silenced at all, quite the opposite. While improved laws will no doubt have an impact on some businesses, those that will gain the most will be the consumers, Muslims, Jews, Christians and Atheists alike. What is certain is that the numbers that oppose the current structure of labelling, from all sides, will only continue to grow. It is unlikely this issue will subside until it has been properly fixed, the only question is which of you will stand up for us?

  3. Smicer

    So if you are involved in permaculture, you must have a certain political opinion….

  4. Steve

    Kiralee also stated that she, with her family, had purchased & moved to a farm 3 months ago & planned to start permaculture but this had nothing to do with Halal Choices. Your real objection should be to Chris Johnston of “The Age” who wrote the original article. He is neither a reporter or journalist but a left-wing story teller that only “reports” what fits his left-wing agenda.

    For more information on Islam, you can download the free PDF version of “The Story of Mohammed: Islam Unveiled” from http://thestoryofmohammed.blogspot.com.au/.

  5. Redfox

    Having encountered Mrs Smith and the Q-Society in the past, I’m not surprised to see Fred Nile’s Christian Democratic Party has been courting her. After all, the Islam-critical Q Society has some very strong links to the Fred Niles Group/FNCDP. Whatever brought about her decision to move to Country NSW a few months ago, I have my doubts that it was entirely to do with wanting a sea-change. Don’t be surprised to see her running in the next election under Fred’s flag.

    Here’s an excerpt from FNCDP’s stance on Rural issues –
    CDP believes that Australia must continue to have a competitive, sustainable and profitable rural sector since independent family farms are a vital part of the social and economic fabric of Australian society.

    However, the primary emphasis should be placed on the actual well being of rural people and communities rather than on the “paper performance” of a few rural industries.

  6. miffed

    if a religion is profiting from having products certified it should be paying taxes like any other business. the halal certification system is a farce and is based in areas predominantly if not totally controlled by sharia- controlled regions. i accept the point of including all peoples, what i dont accept is making excuses for and immediately trying to silence opponents of religious groups who are publiclu and vocally trying to impose its own agenda and laws on ALL free peoples.

    this whole thing is just fear mongering and bad mouthing of any opposition to islam. anyone who speaks against islam is an islamophobe, yet those muslims who are beheading people are islamists. its not possible that islam itself is at fault, and most assuredly in need of closer scrutiny.

    religion has ABSOLUTELY NO PLACE AT ALL in politics, neither christian jewish or islamic. religion has way to many freedoms and exemptions, and any who are vocally against it are persecuted.

    i think you yourself need to examine your position because youre excluding atheists and opponents of religion as being unsuitable or not truly permaculture practitioners.

    id be more concerned about the impact that has on permacultures appearance, than someone standing up against an injustice and sheer ignorance.

  7. Kirralie Smith

    And how exactly are you observing the second principle of care for people when you write such nonsense? The article you have quoted was incorrect, you did not once bother to speak to me or contact me to clarify your ‘statements as facts’. You have simply jumped on a bandwagon and been too lazy to sort out fact from fiction.

  8. Peter Webber

    I don’t think Permaculture will be associated with anti-islam anymore than cycling would be if Kirralie owns a bicycle. Most people are rational enough to separate the activities.

    Also I agree that Kirralie is entitled to her opinion. I think nothing is above scrutiny and that includes Islam. Again I think rational people can weigh both sides of an argument and reach their own conclusions. As long as there is no incitement to violence then we are all entitled to our own points of view.

    Personally I neither oppose or support Islam, or any other religion.

  9. Redfox

    I suppose this article is ‘incorrect’ as well…

    http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/feb/11/anti-halal-campaigner-sued-over-claims-islamic-certification-supports-terrorism?CMP=soc_567

    This is what happens when you’re more than happy to have an accidental association with other ‘like-minded’ though some what more extremist individuals (and in the case of Larry Pickering, people of questionable motivation and character), as opposed to clarifying who you are and how you differ from them.

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