Islamic Council of Victoria secretary says ‘counter-productive’ policy could ‘push disaffected young people into the hands of radical groups’
Muslim leaders have criticized the Australian government’s de-radicalization policy, saying it focuses on law enforcement measures and risks contributing to negative stereotypes about Islam.
Kuranda Seyit, secretary of the Islamic Council of Victoria and a leading voice in Victoria state’s Muslim community, said on Thursday that the policy is “punitive” and could potentially alienate disenchanted youth.
“It sends the message, we don’t want you, which could push disaffected young people into the hands of radical groups,” Seyit said. “From that perspective, it’s counter-productive. It’s also counter-productive in that it doesn’t give people any option for rehabilitation or reintegration.”
More of the same BS:
Muslim charities unfairly targeted over extremism in UK
Close scrutiny of humanitarian NGOs over suspected links to terrorism makes Muslims feel there’s no place for them in modern Britain
Last year September, Muslim Charities Forum (MCF), an umbrella organisation for 10 UK-based Muslim-led international NGOs – including Islamic Relief, Islamic Help and Muslim Hands – was dealt a devastating blow after a newspaper reported some of its well-known members had links to terrorism.–World Bulletin / News Desk
Since last year, Australia has been concerned about its nationals joining or supporting groups fighting in the Middle East and the impact it could have on the country in the case of their return.
Last month, Prime Minister Tony Abbott introduced a controversial law under which Australian dual nationals suspected of involvement in “terrorism” can be stripped of citizenship.
Australia has already banned its citizens from traveling to Mosul and Syria’s Raqqa province, unless they have a “legitimate purpose” for being there – a measure civil rights groups have criticized for placing the burden of proof on an individual.
Seyit’s comments came a day after the president of the powerful, Sydney-based Lebanese Muslim Association harshly condemned the government’s de-radicalization approach, dismissing it as “pointless” and “a mess”.
In an opinion piece Wednesday, Samier Dandan had described the policy as outdated and simplistic, saying it emphasized law enforcement instead of focusing on social factors, as advised by international academics.
He slammed a recent government driven “discussion paper,” saying it referred to radicalization “as though it was a result of Islamic ideology,” and criticized the new citizenship-stripping legislation.
Seyit, a teacher at an Islamic school, expressed agreement with much of what Dandan said, despite stopping short of referring to the de-radicalization policy as pointless.
He supported Dandan’s criticism of the language used in the recent Countering Violent Extremism summit discussion paper.
“It perpetuates stereotypes and the assumption that Islam is intrinsically linked to some sort of extremist ideology,” he said, his exasperation apparent. “It didn’t mention the generic problem of extremism which exists in white supremacist and Neo Nazi groups and other religious ideologies.”
Seyit told Anadolu Agency that the language used by the Abbott government feeds into the narrative of a division in society, which “leads to the emergence of [anti-Islamic] groups like Reclaim Australia.”
“Everybody now thinks there is an epidemic of terrorists threatening every Australian, which presents a huge danger for social cohesion,” he warned.
Seyit also voiced his concern that the government isn’t seeking broad-based feedback from Australia’s Muslim community, referring to a meeting he had attended with the Attorney General George Brandis last year as purely “tokenism”.
“It wasn’t a two-way dialogue. We were being spoken at,” he said.
Seyit underlined that Australia’s Islamic community wants “an approach that is preventative and rehabilitative rather than this sort of punitive approach the government is currently taking.”
Also on Thursday, Abbott released Australia’s Counter-Terrorism Strategy, a comprehensive long-term national counter-terrorism blueprint.
A statement from the Prime Minister’s office stated: “Australians currently face the most significant threat from terrorism in our nation’s history.”
It reminded how the National Terrorism Public Alert level had been raised to high in September, since when the country has experienced two attacks – with six others allegedly being disrupted – and charges against 23 people as a result of counter-terrorism operations.
“There are now over 120 Australians fighting in Syria and Iraq. Approximately 160 Australians actively support extremist groups through financing and recruitment,” it added. “The threat of terrorism is real and continues to grow and evolve.”
A spokesperson for the minister assisting the prime minister on counter terrorism, Michael Keenan, replied a request for response to Dandan’s opinion piece.
“These remarks have been taken out of context and are incorrect. The discussion paper referred to was a description of Australia’s threat environment,” the response said. “This acknowledged that Islamist inspired extremists, fuelled by the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, remain the dominant terrorist threat to Australia.”
It added that the discussion paper had noted that “these extremists have a distorted and militant interpretation of Islam, which they use to justify violence in the pursuit of political, religious and ideological ambitions.”
The response also said the government “recognises there is no one path to radicalisation and the motivations and drivers are unique to each individual.”
Twitter erupts with calls to ban Islam
On Saturday, we reported that many social media users called for Muslims to be deported to any one of a number of countries run by Islamic regimes. But in the wake of recent events in France, that doesn’t seem to be enough. Over the last several days, a large number of Twitter users decided to call for an outright banof the religion. One person, for example, suggested banning Islam in response to a Sunday report that the Obama administration has called a summit to discuss ways to stop violent extremism.
“Ban Islam,” the person said. “Wipe out anyone who wants to be Muslim,” the Twitter user added.
Another person, responding to news that French Prime Minister Manuel Valls announced a war on radical Islam, suggested banning the religion. “We are at war — not a war against a religion, not a war against a civilization, but to defend our values, which are universal,” Valls said Saturday. “It’s a war against terrorism and radical Islamism, against everything that would break our solidarity, our liberty, our fraternity.”
“Correction,” one person said. “At war with Islam, as its goal is world domination. Until Muslim countries open & free, ban Islam.” We found many others responding with similar messages.
Another Twitter user called for banning Islam in response to an op-ed at the Investor’s Business Daily calling for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio to reinstate monitoring of mosques. The user, going by the Twitter handle “Eleanor Roosevelt,” said there “[s]houldn’t be mosques in civilized countries” until Muslim countries are free and tolerant of other beliefs. “Deport Muslims. Ban Islam,” the user said.
“How long can the #West deny that it must ban Islam?” one person asked. “You just can’t trust followers of Islam, we need to rid the world of this plague,” another person added.
On Sunday, some 3 million people across France participated in a “unity” march against terrorism. Fifty world leaders — minus President Obama — joined the crowds to stand with France. But some on Twitter weren’t interested in the show of solidarity.
“I’m not interested in unity marches or candle lit vigils or weeping in public and feeling sorry for myself,” one person said. “I want real change. Ban Islam!”
“Rallying is good but emotion and speeches don’t work France,” another person added. “BAN ISLAM! These murdering radical savages will only hurt your nation!”
A number of Twitter users posted a link from August 2014 that includes an article calling Islam worse than Nazism. The article, written by a person identifying himself as an atheist author and poet who lived as a Sunni Muslim for 23 years, says that “all Muslims have the ‘right’ of killing and raping you, grabbing all your properties, your country, land, money and anything else.”
“You have heard many times that ‘Islam is a tolerant religion,'” the article adds. “That is the biggest lie that you can hear all over the World, and this lie is used as a mask to hide the terrible face of Islam.”
According to the article, Islam “must be declared illegal all over the world.” The article warned that “the world will meet with a big tragedy” when Islamists get more power, just as the world suffered because of Nazism.
Another person, responding to news of leaked Al Jazeera emails showing disdain for the victims of the Paris attacks, said Islam needs to be banned. “Islam isn’t a religion. It’s a cult and an exceptionally toxic one at that,” one person said. “America needs to ban Islam,” another person added.
But can an entire religion be banned? In 2013, several media outlets reported that the African nation of Angola banned Islam after closing mosques in the country. The government of Angola, however, denied those reports. Christians, meanwhile, face real persecution and possible eradication in Muslim countries like Iraq and Syria, Open Doors said in its latest edition of the “World Watch List.”