Raisah bint Alan Douglas and 54-year-old Rabiah Hutchinson, perceived as “matriarchs” of radical Islam in Australia, claim their participation was based on a belief the documentary would be an exercise between Islam and the wider community.
“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.”‘
She said she was told the focus of the program would be the women’s conversion to Islam, not their alleged links to extremists. But the documentary has left them fearful for their safety.
Ms Hutchinson said she had already been subjected to a verbal attack as a result of the documentary. 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 promotion for the show. She said that, in one incident, which occurred at Bankstown shopping centre in Sydney’s southwest on Sunday, a man yelled at her to “go back where you came from”.
“They actually mentioned the television program,” she said.
The ABC’s head of national programs, Alan Sunderland, who yesterday met the women, said while they may have been told their interviews would air on Australian Story, it would have been mentioned as one of several possibilities.
“I have spoken to the two reporters and they are adamant that they weren’t repeatedly told it would be an Australian Story project,” Mr Sunderland said.
Yesterday, the women delivered a formal letter of protest to the ABC’s Sydney headquarters.
Ms Hutchinson and Ms Douglas are known to authorities.
Jihad Sheilas airs tonight at 8:30pm on ABC.
Source: The Australian