Here are some extracts from her very intelligent and thoughtful article published in The Age:
When it comes to Islam, independent senator Jacqui Lambie is actually right about one thing, but it’s not what she thinks it is.
The question is not whether Islam as a faith system is compatible with “western values” – it is. We know this by the fact that devout Muslims have been living in the west for centuries. But what progress can we hope to make when it is clear that “Sharia law” means something completely different to Muslims and to non-Muslims?
It is clear to me that when Lambie talks of “Sharia law” she is referring to the regressive dogma enforced in the criminal codes of some Muslim-majority countries, while to liberal Muslims like Abdel-Magied, Sharia is about private, personal ethics.
It shouldn’t be that difficult to make a distinction between the two and it could be as simple as qualifying the difference between criminal Sharia law, or hudud, and the private moral code.
As long as we fail to make this simple but vital distinction, Muslims will continue to be demonised and the real issue will continue to be missed.
That issue is the very real discrepancy between how Islam is practiced in places that (for now anyway) enshrine freedom of the religion within the context of civil law, and the way it is enforced in many Muslim-majority countries, where criminal Sharia law is used as a pretext for control over the masses.
And there is no doubt that mainstream Islam is regressing in a world where Saudi Arabian Wahhabism is fast becoming the accepted mainstream version of Islam. This isn’t just about the specific culture in that part of the world, but about the dissemination of this particular culture’s interpretation of the religion.
Muslims can’t afford to deny there is a problem here. Regressive applications of Islamic law are spreading across the Muslim world as more turn to these unforgiving interpretations, from Aceh in Indonesia to Brunei to parts of rebel-held Syria.
Does this mean that Lambie is right? Of course not. There is no chance of criminal Sharia being introduced here. But there is a danger that the practice of Islam may become more fundamentalist as more people accept this interpretation, which consolidates the application of Islam in Muslim-majority countries.