Thursday, June 09, 2005

Who wants to be a Mullah Omar? 

(with apologies to a "Spectator" cartoon from three years ago)

Controversy at the Australian edition of a popular game show:
Lawyers for terrorism suspect Jack Thomas will lodge an official complaint about a television quiz show question they say could prejudice his trial.

Mr Thomas, charged with receiving financial support from al-Qa'ida, providing the group with resources or support to help carry out a terrorist attack and having a false passport, was the subject of a question on Monday's Who Wants To Be a Millionaire.

On the program, a contestant answered a $1000 question that asked: "Suspected of associating with the terror network al-Qa'ida, Joseph Terrence Thomas, was dubbed what? a) Jihad Jack; b) Joe Blow; c) Terror Terry; or d) Thomas the Tank Buster."

Thomas's solicitor, Rob Stary, said yesterday he would lodge a complaint with the Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions this week.

"I think it's completely inappropriate to trivialise the matter when court proceedings are well and truly in place," Mr Stary said. "These are serious charges, and my client is entitled to the presumption of innocence."
The answer, by the way, is a). Thomas is indeed entitled to the presumption of innocence, but the question refers not to his guilt or innocence but to a popular nickname given to him by the media. Even that is not completely out of place, seeing that Thomas has actually changed his first name to Jihad when he converted to Islam in 1996. Still, considering his original first name, the more accurate designation would have been Jihad Joe (with an added benefit of sounding like an antithesis, that it is, of G.I. Joe).


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