Danger in Anti Muslim Strategy
Confirmation that Scott Morrison, Shadow Minster for Immigration and Citizenship, recommended an anti Muslim tilt to coalition polices, strengthens the concern I expressed below.
A message to Tony Abbot: one part of your party is playing with fire.
There is a minority of Muslims in Australia – a telephone box minority – who say and do wild things. The self-styled Imam who took it upon himself to rebuke the families of Australian servicemen who died in Afghanistan. The Somali Imam who defended convicted terrorists. There have been others. Moreover the terrorist threat is real. Action against terrorist cells by ASIO, Federal Police and state police has been wholly justified.
All of the above mandates that we work hard to stop extremists making recruits from the youth of Islamic Australia. There are elements of paranoia and excitability in pockets of the Islamic community. We can expect to have jihadist propaganda continue to reach our shores and get some airing. If senior Australian politicians are revealed as playing with explicit anti-Islamic rhetoric, we will feed this extremism and force young Muslims into the hands of recruiters for Islamist causes.
For me, for many of us, it is a fraught issue. On the one hand I am alarmed by political Islam and will not kowtow to it or treat it as a criticism-free zone. Islamicism is opposed to enlightenment, to toleration, to diversity, to rights for women and homosexuals. It wants a monochromal totalitarian world. I will criticise these manifestations and run the risk of being called anti-Islam.
But on the other hand, I appreciate what Islamic cultures have delivered to the totality of world civilisation. I see moderate Islam – yes, I know it’s a relative concept – as being the way to counter Islamicism. I have met Muslims, including women who wear veils, who love Australia and flourish in its democratic way of life.
I will never forget meeting year 10 students from Holroyd High – they were Afghan refugees in Australia via Christmas Island and Port Headland – who talked to me in the War Museum in Canberra about Gallipoli. They had been in Australia for 13 months. I guess they are now terrific citizens.
I remember the Afghan school girl who introduced herself at an International Womens’ Day function and told me there was bird lice in the roof of her school. I visited the school and met her and her siblings, all embarked on their HSC studies.
I remember the Lebanese-Islamic-background girl who interviewed me for an Arabic newspaper and asked tough questions about my unapologetically tough line on ethnic crime. She then produced a scrupulously accurate account of our interview. I rang the editor of the Herald and suggested he give her a cadetship.
These people must cringe when they read that conservative politicians are planning to stigmatise them and their community.
What Scott Morrison seems to have suggested gives me the creeps. It represents an incursion by One Nation into Australian political thinking. It suggested that the Liberal party is moving away from one of the proudest strands of its history – liberal tolerance, opposition to race discrimination, support for Australia’s cultural diversity. The policy is high risk to boot.