ABC tricked us, say Muslim women

Two Muslim women say their participation in an ABC documentary pitched as a “bridge-building” exercise between Islam and the wider community has left them fearful for their safety.

Raisah bint Alan Douglas and 54-year-old Rabiah Hutchinson, the so-called “matriarch” of radical Islam in Australia, have accused the makers of an ABC documentary, Jihadi Sheilas, of deceitful and unethical conduct, saying they were tricked into participating in what they fear will be a misleading documentary.

Yesterday, the women delivered a formal letter of protest to the ABC’s Sydney headquarters.

The two women told The Australian that they were approached separately by an ABC documentary crew last year and invited to participate.

They said they were explicitly and repeatedly told the material would be used on the ABC’s long-running Australian Story, a show Ms Douglas described as “patriotic (and) sympathetic”. She said she was told the focus of the program would be the women’s conversion to Islam, not their alleged links to extremists.

“They said, ‘We’re going to put you on Australian Story’,” Ms Douglas told The Australian. “‘We’d like to because there’s a lot of negative publicity around Muslims and it seems to be getting worse. We, as a community channel, want to do something about it … It will be a bridge-building exercise between the Muslim community and the Australian general public.”‘

The women – neither of whom has seen the program – are concerned the final product portrays them as traitors.

Ms Hutchinson said she had already been verbally abused after being recognised from a promo for the show. She said in one incident, which occurred at Bankstown shopping centre on Sunday, a man yelled at her to “go back where you came from”.

“They actually mentioned the television program,” she said.

The Australian, 5 February 2008