I watch nightly SBS news (www.sbs.com.au) and on Thursday night there was an interesting report regarding a speech a that Sheikh Taj-el Hilaly, the Mufti of Australia, gave in Lebanon in February 2004.
The speech he gave was videotaped, and a copy was given to the Australian Embassy in Beirut, who gave it to DFAT officers for translating.
DFAT released their translation to the media, which of course went mad and made out that the Sheikh was pro-terrorism, in particular because he praised 9 September 2001 by saying that it was "god's work" and also because he called Muslims to "jihad".
There was outrage in the community, and rightly so, at these comments, and commentators such as Alan Jones and his ilk jumped on the 'issue' in condemning the Sheikh and Muslims in general for saying such things. The story also made news in international news media (particularly the right wing media).
The whole time, the Sheikh said that he said no such thing, and declared vehemently that he was innocent of what he was being accused of.
He asked DFAT to release the tape, and to give him a copy of the tape, so that it could be independently verified. DFAT refused to release the tape. As the Sheikh said, the Australian government was accusing him, but not allowing him to defend himself.
But SBS got a hold of the tape via their own sources, and by using their own translators (who do a lot of commercial work, including for the government) did their own translation of the video.
Unfortunately, the results aren't on the SBS website, but the SBS translators came to the conclusion that the Sheikh saying 11-9-2001 was "God's work" was an over-simplification of what was said -- in essence he did say it was "God's work", but in the sense that what happened happened, and God had his reasons for allowing it to happen (this is a notion that other major religions subscribe to), and when he called Muslims to jihad, it wasn't the jihad which the 'west' believes is jihad -- i.e. terrorism and war, but the jihad which is the true Islamic meaning of jihad -- spiritual jihad.
So what the Sheikh was accused of saying by the Australian government was completely and utterly false -- but the damage in the community is already done -- and of course DFAT and Minister refuse to rescind their accusations -- in fact, they stand by them -- even though SBS has shown that he is innocent.
The Sheikh has said and done some things in the past which I don't agree with -- as do all religious leaders -- but in this case he is completely innocent -- but do you think the mainstream media will report on this? Of course not! It's a non-issue for them -- they have already reported in such a way which 'proves' the Sheikh's guilt and they just can't portray Islam in a positive light.
The way that DFAT have conducted themselves in this matter is indicative of how 'western' governments have lied and mislead the public to try and discredit Islamic leaders and Islam in general, to further their own agendas.
And this is why some of us will, sometimes, be "Islamic apologists", because not everything governments and government agencies say can be held at face value.