ABC Let Down
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.
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.
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.
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.