There are several devices that Uthman uses to project himself as a common man.[vi] For instance, he uses hesitations a lot coupled with the words “I think”, indicating sincerity and active engagement. He also addresses the host by name and uses the pronoun “we” to include her in the group he belongs to, and through her, other Australians. The strategy is not successful, however, as Jenny immediately reformulates the question and demands that he answers from “your” and “your group’s” perspective. At the same time, he presents himself as educated. He uses words like “posit”, “inadequate”, “integration”, and “perspective”, as well as “de facto” and “de jure” to portray his acumen.
Furthermore, he comes across as authoritative, and a man with conviction. He uses three negative phrases coupled with a contrastive clause to make the same point, the latter citing Tony Blair. “The issue of the niqab is not about the niqab itself; it comes in the context of all things Islamic…”, “So it’s not about the cloth, but what it represents in terms of Islam itself and the Islamic revival”, and “there was a need to debate not only the veil, but the place of Islam and how it fits into the modern world.” The words “Islamic revival” on their second articulation is accompanied by the phrase “on a global scale” making the link even more explicit to the final sentence of the triplet.
He also uses the three list in talking about what is under scrutiny: “… mosques, masjids,[vii] the teaching of the Quran in schools, halal food and so on…” .
Finally he places his own opinion squarely with the group he belongs to, “for me .. for us …”, though there is ambiguity as to whether he is referring to Muslims in general or to Hizb at-Tahrir.
SHEIKH MUHAMMAD OMRAN
Sheikh Omran also uses one instance of the three part list to demonstrate assertiveness and conviction.[viii] They are two affirmative statements followed by a negative one, and each refer to the assumption that the question – the topic question about the obligatory nature of the veil – is deliberately being avoided by the Muslims. “They have said I refused to answer, he refused to … no, we don’t refuse to answer”.
Among all the guests, he is the only one to use one of the techniques of the host to turn the reformulation of the question back on her. “No you didn’t say that, … say distinction.” Jenny authoritatively denies this: “I did say that!” but the Sheikh repeats, “You said distinction over Islam (in general).” Jenny has to concede that she reformulated the question specifically for Uthman and Hizb at Tahrir, and has to reformulate the question to apply more generally: “I was just trying to get it .. a clear answer from you as to whether you think that women should wear the burqa.” However, the wording of the question shows that she places Uthman and Sheikh Omran in the same boat.
This was a question he had already answered before in the program. And he does it again with the same words: “That’s up to them.”
Read On: Reflection