Finally, the two major political parties have been dragged kicking and screaming into the reality of the Islamic terrorism debate. They have spent several years cowering like abused dogs in an animal shelter, unwilling to either stand up or bark with confidence or conviction.
The slowness to act on the Islamic threat by Western democracies, including our own, has come at a great cost. It has undermined public confidence in key government agencies, our political processes, and eroded our sense of personal security and wellbeing. We have had the chief of ASIO misinforming parliament in an apparent strategy to not offend Muslims for fear they will stop acting as responsible Australians and intelligence information will dry up. The primary duty of government is to protect its citizens from those who would do it harm. Cultivating informers is a secondary goal.
Yet while more of Australia becomes aware of the existential threat that radical Islam presents to our way of life, influential Muslim leaders in the Islamic community still appear to be largely in denial. They need to get some skin in the game and do so quickly. The tolerance of long suffering Australians is wearing very thin.
Increasingly, Australians could be forgiven for thinking that many Muslims living here either condone or are sympathetic to the goals of various Islamic terror groups – though they might object to their brutal methods. It can appear that some within the Muslim community are acting as fifth columnists, building a beachhead in which to influence the future direction of Australian politics, our cultural values, and our legal system. The Islamic Council of Victoria has just withdrawn its support for Corrections Victoria’s de-radicalisation program, instead wanting public money to set up safe spaces for angry young Muslims to vent their rage. There appears to be a determined blindness to the Muslim-terror link by Islamic leaders, even to the extent of tacitly acknowledging that young Muslims really do have bona fide reasons for that rage.
Like an alcoholic gaining freedom from that debilitating addiction, the first step is having the courage to admit to the problem then owning it. Blaming other groups in society, blaming foreign policy, or local circumstances for the current situation just doesn’t cut it. The proponents of Islam need to wake up to the fact that they have a serious and deadly sickness at the heart of their religion. They need to stop listening to their well-meaning, but misguided friends in the mainstream media. No more nodding in agreement that terrorism is no worse than “an irritation”, no more allowing to pass without comment the sophist assertions that domestic appliances, cars, bees and food poisoning kill more people than jihadi outrages.
Rod McGarvie worked in east Africa for 12 years where he led a cultural research and language development NGO
Islamic leaders need to own the problem and stop behaving like victims. Then they will be in a position to plan an appropriate way forward.
Parroting that Islam is the religion of peace is as oxymoronic and the evidence makes it so. There have been over 30,986 separate terror attacks inspired by the Islamic faith since the horrific attacks of September 11, 2001. Incredibly, that is an average of 164 separate attacks every month for close to 16 years – a Jihadist attack every four and a half hours.
It will take a good deal of individual courage, but Islamic leaders can get into the fight against extremism in a very practical way. This will go a long way to help build public confidence and credibility, to show that Muslims genuinely want to be contributors to help strengthen Australian society, and uphold our way of life.
The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC) as the peak body for Sunni Muslims in Australia could undertake the following practical measures;
- Publicly acknowledge that Islam internally has a major extremism problem. People want honesty, stop with the denials and the spin.
- Publicly condemn each terror attack in Australia, and acts impacting Australians. The last press release from the AFIC was back in March 2016 – and it claimed only that ISIS is anti-Muslim.
- Formally request that the federal government block Muslim fighters from re-entering Australia.
- Formally request the federal government close the borders to all Muslim immigration until there are sufficient measures in place to prevent those prone to extremism entering the country.
- Formally request the federal government develop a process where radicalised Muslims living in Australia are put on a guided pathway to emigrate back to their ancestral homelands.
- Offer total and unconditional support to our Defence Force personnel who are operating in dangerous conflict zones ridding the world of ISIS and other extremists
- Dedicate the income from Halal certification to financially compensate Australian families impacted by acts of Islamic inspired terrorism
The leaders of the Muslim community need to be proactive in addressing the perceptions and stereotypes of Islam held by many Australians. Very deliberate action is required to demonstrate unequivocal support for a decisive response to radical Islam. If they fail to act, the perceptions and stereotypes that have taken root will grow and harden in place like concrete.
Inaction will no doubt make life more difficult for moderate Muslims who have embraced Australian values and just want to get on with life. Silence, as they say, gives consent — and the time for silence, if there ever was such a time — has long past.
Rod McGarvie worked in east Africa for 12 years where he led a cultural research and language development NGO.