Sultana's Dream

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Sultana's Dream
August 2012

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ABC Let Down

You might expect it from programs such as Today Tonight and A Current Affair – but from our national broadcaster, the ABC? If you tuned into the ABC ‘Islamic Divorce the Aussie way’, you might well have been watching an Australian-Arab version of Jerry Springer. The program contributed little to furthering knowledge about Australian Muslims and Islamic divorce. 

The ABC, instead of boasting about commissioning ‘risky’ documentaries, might do well to conduct more research on how Muslims see themselves. It should speak to a variety of Muslims, not just one ethnicity and not from just one location: a diversity of views with well-sourced interpretations and explanations was what was needed on the complex subject of divorce. 

In its coverage of Muslims, the ABC seems to have foregone factual and balanced representation of an issue and moved to sensationalist or, as they would say, ‘risky’ representation. To show anything other than (in my opinion) a backward view of what Sharia law is, and how it’s practiced in Australia in some places, would not have brought audiences to the ABC. I’m sure there was no trouble finding an audience for the show that was finally aired.

The ABC’s ‘portrait’ of divorce, according to Islamic law, failed to demonstrate a diversity of practices, including those consistent with Australian law – as is required by Islam. I was far from happy at how Islamic divorce was portrayed to Australian viewers. No doubt many would have had their worst fears confirmed. A far more progressive view was confirmed to me recently in my discussions with three local Melbourne and Sydney shaykhs. 

Feriyal Glaidous


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