Islam is Islam, and that’s it. Â There is no “radical Islamism”. We should see it for what it is, and not try to draw artificial lines that Muslims themselves reject.
So in how much danger are we as a nation?
Sheik Taj el-Din al-Hilali at Lakemba Mosque in Sydney.Â Source:Â News Limited
ASIO’s report to Parliament last week exploded some sweet lies we’ve been told about our immigration program.
Here’s one: immigration brings only good things, like falafel.
Here’s another: there’s still only a “tiny, unrepresentative minority” of Muslim extremists here. A “handful”.
Handful? Check the ASIO report: “This year ASIO .â€‰.â€‰. investigated several hundred mostly Australia-based individuals who are advocates of a violent Islamist ideology.”
In fact, we already have 20 Muslims jailed for terrorism-related offences and ASIO fears more may come: “There has been an increase in Australians travelling overseas to participate in terrorist training or engage in foreign disputes – Syria is the primary destination.
“The concern is .â€‰.â€‰. the likelihood of radicalised Australians returning home with an increased commitment and capability to pursue violent acts on our shores.”
Indeed, the Syrian civil war has already “created domestic tensions .â€‰.â€‰. partly because of deep familial ties to Lebanon that exist here”, with “sporadic incidents of small-scale communal violence in Australia”.
Nor is the danger just from the 80 or so Australian Muslims fighting in Syria, or others who’ve trained or fought in Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen. There are also the ticking bombs at home, fired up by messages pumped into their homes over the internet.
“The threat of homegrown terrorism is of significant concern,” says ASIO, citing the Boston Marathon bombings and the London jihadists who slaughtered a British soldier. “In Australia, there are individuals and small groups who believe an attack here is justified.”
“Issues such as Australia’s military deployments over the last decade, the Syrian conflict, or a belief that the ideals of Australia are in direct conflict with their extreme interpretation of Islam, fuel the radical views of this cohort.”
We are thankfully past the low point when Muslim groups elected as Grand Mufti of Australia the extremist Taj el-Din al-Hilali, who hailed the September 11 attacks as “God’s work against oppressors”.
ASIO says more moderate leaders have helped keep down tensions, especially over Syria. But Sheik Hilali still preaches at Lakemba Mosque – our biggest – and young radical preachers now whip up potentially lethal resentments, particularly when Australian soldiers are fighting jihadists overseas, or when police arrest them at home.
When five Muslims were jailed in Sydney for a terrorist plot, 30 Muslim “community leaders” and imams signed a statement at the Lakemba Mosque, claiming “the reason for the arrests and convictions is that these young men expressed or hold opinions that contradict Australia’s foreign policy towards majority Muslim countries”.
Hizb ut-Tahrir, which gets some 500 people to its conferences, later damned even Anzac Day as the celebration of “a disbelieving people, of events involving wars against the legitimate Muslim authority of the time”.
ASIO’s report didn’t cover other evidence that a significant minority of some Muslim groups have struggled to integrate. For instance, those of Lebanese descent have high rates of unemployment, welfare dependency and imprisonment, and high rates of bikie gang membership.
Add also this danger sign: Of the 18 terrorist groups banned in Australia, 17 are Islamist. Even the exception, the Stalinist PKK, is from the Middle East.
Given all that, our immigration policies have been incredibly reckless, thanks to politicians more concerned with seeming good than achieving security.
We have been bringing in more than 10,000 refugees a year from Muslim lands – especially ones in which jihadism is worst. Many have little English and few skills. Not surprisingly, just 9â€‰per cent of Afghan adults find work here even five years after arriving. Yet just last month, the Abbott Government said it would accept another 500 refugees from Syria’s war between jihadists and the Assad regime.
Few would be any better equipped to integrate than were the refugees we took in from Lebanon’s civil war and who formed a community which now makes up a quarter of our Muslim population – but which has produced nearly two thirds of those charged with terrorism offences.
Then there was Labor’s astonishing decision in 2008 to scrap our tough border laws in a fit of “compassion”, thus luring in 50,000 boat people, mostly Muslims. Already ASIO has deemed 58 a security risk.
Yes, the Abbott Government has now slashed the refugee intake from Labor’s 20,000 a year to 13,500 and has sharply slowed the boats, but Prime Minister Tony Abbott is still too coy to publicly discuss the problem ASIO has labelled.
I asked him about the difficulty we had of integrating some migrants.
Abbott’s response? To avoid even any mention of the word “Muslim”.
Abbott: One of the great things about Australia is that we encourage people, indeed we expect people, who come to this country to leave their ethnic animosities behind them.
Bolt: But they are failing to in some cases.
Abbott: We encouraged the English and the Irish to leave their sectarian and other animosities behind them .â€‰.â€‰.
Bolt: But they didn’t have suicide bombers.
Abbott: .â€‰.â€‰. and we largely succeeded.
When I pointed out that Muslims alone had been jailed here for terrorism-related offences – 20 so far – Abbott explained why he wouldn’t say more. “Yeah, but it would be a big mistake for anyone in authority in Australia to suggest that people might be citizens second and adherents of a particular faith first, because nothing could be more guaranteed to hinder the integration and ultimately the assimilation of such people.”
Abbott is right to a point. Even writing this threatens to do more harm than good. It could simply license racists and make our very many law-abiding Muslims here feel threatened and insulted.
But for years journalists kept diplomatically quiet about these problems and that didn’t help either.