On January 1, 1915, for example, a disaffected Pakistani, Badsha Mahommed Gool, and an halal butcher and cleric, Mullah Abdullah, opened fire on a picnic train leaving Broken Hill, killing four and wounding seven others. In a note found on Gool’s body all was explained:
“I must kill your men and give my life for my faith….”
Twelve days later, the inquest was done and dusted, with the official finding making no bones about what inspired the murder of innocents. From The Australasian‘s report of the coronial hearing:
In reply to the corner (sic), Captain Hardie said … Gool was evidently a warlike and a very religious man. The case seemed to have been one of Moslem fanaticism….
Inspector’ Miller: Such cases happen in India.
Witness: They frequently occur on-the north-west of India on the frontier. The Mahommedans frequently come out and kill the Christians…
A century later, investigators seem to have lost that sharp focus on religion as a possible motivation for murder. From Andrew Bolt’s interview with a remarkably vague Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs:
Bolt: I find it amazing that he’s gone to a mosque, the mosque is raided, the police are looking at which preachers he may have heard, there is a potential links to it Islamic State, note the word Islamic, and also Hizb ut Tahrir, which is an Islamic group, and yet the government keeps calling it a politically motivated attack and not a religious one and I just want to know why.
Fierravanti-Wells: Well, I think Andrew that this is an ongoing investigation. I’m sure that there will be a whole lot of details that are going to emerge and when those details emerge I think that picture will be clearer.
Bolt: So you think it is political, not religious.
Fierravanti-Wells: I’m just saying to you, Andrew, that this is just the initial phase of that investigation.
Bolt: Sure, but you still say it’s political.
Fierravanti-Wells: The Police Commissioner has made certain comments and we will wait when the NSW police have completed their investigation and then we will see very much what is the motivation. Look, there is no doubt that the motivation is very important issue. People want to know what motivates a 15-year-old boy to walk down a street…
Bolt: Shouting “Allah”.
Fierravanti-Wells: …shouting whatever he is alleged to have shouted.
Bolt: You see, you can’t even say what he is alleged to have shouted. He shouted “Allah”.
Fierravanti-Wells: He shouted what he shouted and did this and it is really important that we do understand what is the motivation.
Yes, indeed, things were very different 100 years ago.