Waleed Aly: What is the problem with asylum seekers?

Here’s the problem:

Stop, for heavens sake: stop allowing Muslim immigrants to invade Australia! 

Stop, for god’s sake stop, importing trouble—and Muslim immigrants, as a whole, necessarily mean trouble, in all lands where the political and legal institutions, and social arrangements, are flatly contradicted by the Shari’a. Muslims are obligated to change or tear down those institutions, in order to remove all “obstacles to Islam.” It is not special or individual malice that prompts that attitude. That is their duty, a central duty. Why not come to fully and soberly understand that duty, and out of a minimal sense of self-preservation, cease to import those into our lands (America, Canada, Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Australia, and every other place that has so generously admitted, under a twisted definitiion of “refugees,” people who do not, and can not, wish our ways or institutions or constitutions well.

Hugh Fitzgerald

Slick media muslim Waleed Aly can’t see it:

What is the problem with asylum seekers?

I’m not asking rhetorically. It’s a serious question – perhaps the most serious question in the entire debate that surrounds them. And yet it is the one least asked.


Muslims are not asylum seekers. They are, by nature and by doctrine, invaders. They are soldiers of allah, just like Waleed Aly.

The axioms of the public conversation simply declare the existence of boat people to be a problem, demand that the boats be stopped, and concede sagely that this problem is devilishly complex.

No. Its that we should pay to bring about our own demise.

It is worth interrogating this consensus. Not because asylum seeker policy is without its complexities. Not because the phenomenon of people smuggling is benign. Rather, because the repetition of such mantras conceals that fundamental question that bears repeating: what, precisely, is the problem we are trying to solve? Stopping boats, sure. But why? For whose benefit? In whose interests?

“Interrogating the consensus?” When was there a consensus? We were never asked. It is in our interest of self-preservation to keep muslim invaders out.

Is it the nature of the journey that concerns us, or the fact that these boats often arrive on our territory? The difference is essential. These are opposite concerns, present opposite problems, and invite opposite solutions. One approach is about protecting the rights and wellbeing of asylum seekers; the other is about protecting ourselves.

If we can reach a consensus  that muslims are not asylum seekers then the only problem to be solved is  protecting ourselves.

In this connection, the shift in our political discourse has been quite remarkable. The unvarnished rhetoric of the Howard era bristled directly at the asylum seekers themselves: casting doubt on their credentials as refugees, opining that they were not worthy of Australia because of their (entirely contrived, as it turns out) preparedness to throw their own children overboard, and intimating there might be terrorists among them. Today’s debate, by contrast, has a different chief villain: people smugglers. It has been this way ever since Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister declared them “the vilest form of human life” who should “rot in hell.”

One is as undesirable as the other. KRudd has done enough damage, no need to bring him back.

The rhetorical difference is more significant than it initially seems. By making people smugglers proxy objects of our hatred on the basis that they exploit the human misery of their clients, Rudd brought the interests of asylum seekers into the picture, and it is a mould that has shaped public language since. Time, and a series of tragic events at sea have delivered us to a point where debate now proceeds on the basis, real or feigned, of compassionate concern for the fate of asylum seekers. Even the Coalition has generally played along, notwithstanding the odd clumsy attempt at a Howardian gesture – such as Tony Abbott’s absurd recent declaration that boat people were “un-Christian” for queue jumping.

Clumsy or not, absurd is Waleed Aly’s suggestion we should go wild goose chasing.

So it seems the boats must be stopped, not for our sake, but for theirs. This does not make our policy suggestions any less brutal – indeed, it may make them more so. Rather, it means that even the most apparently harsh or punitive policy is recast as ultimately benevolent.

Either way, the boats, muslim infiltration altogether has to be stopped.

If it means we send people to Malaysia, beyond our jurisdiction and certainly beyond our care, relying on nothing other than a non-binding arrangement to protect their human rights despite Malaysia’s ghastly form in dealing with such people, it is because mercy demands such ruthlessness. Similarly, we justify sending people to what we can now uncontroversially describe asfactories of mental illness in Nauru. Ultimately such policies stand and fall on one assertion: they will work.

Malaysia is a muslim country. They are your people, Aly. It is not our business and we should not make it our business how they treat fellow muslims. I don’t give a flying f*kc about their ‘human rights”.

This approach necessarily relies on the logic of deterrence, and it is at this point that we run into an obvious problem. In order to deter boat people we must subject them to circumstances worse than those they are fleeing; place them in conditions worse than a detention centre in an under-resourced country that has not signed the Refugee Convention; give them less hope of resettlement than they have languishing for years in an Indonesian camp with no end in sight. These people get on boats fully aware that they may die. Their present plight must seem worse to them than the prospect of taking that awful chance. We can only deter them by manufacturing something even worse.

Irrelevant, Aly. They are not our people. They are people who divide the world in believer and unbeliever. They are people who do not wish us well. There are 57 muslim countries in the world, let them resettle them.

Such calculations are never made explicit, but they are central to this kind of policy making. Indeed, stripped of bureaucratic language, this is precisely the Government’s argument against re-opening Nauru: that it’s not horrible enough. But can this really be for the wellbeing of asylum seekers? Only if we believe two things:

  • that the thousands of asylum seekers who choose to board boats do so for no good reason and therefore need to be saved from their own incompetence; and
  • that there is no less brutal alternative way to stop people smuggling.

However, neither of these things is true. None of these policy contortions is necessary, at least not if our primary aim is to prevent further deaths of asylum seekers at sea.

If we give them no chance to settle here they will stop coming.

We could, for instance, significantly increase the refugee intake from Indonesia. The people who get on boats do so because they see no prospects. Typically they have already joined a queue, already been processed by the UNHCR and already been assessed as refugees. What they haven’t been is resettled. After a hopeless number of years of inaction, they get on boats because the only visible alternative is indefinite detention. Now, Indonesia has accumulated a backlog of people going nowhere – around 10,000 of them.

We will do no such thing.If Indonesia doesn’t resettle them, let any of the other Islamic countries take them in.

So far this year we’ve resettled around 60 refugees from Indonesia. If that figure was, say, 6,000, the number of boats would decrease rapidly and no one would need to be mentally destroyed in the process. The truth is we could absorb several times that number with barely a blip. We could make the humanitarian intake 100,000 if necessary, and we’d cope just fine. This would do more than break what the government likes to call “the people smugglers’ business model.” It would take away their clients altogether.

Again: why should we accommodate Muslims? There is no reason whatsoever to commit suicide.

This will not happen. Not because it wouldn’t work, but because it wouldn’t work in the way we want. For all the gnashing of teeth and demonstrative compassion, our politicians have greater concerns than the lost lives of a few hundred asylum seekers. They have political equations to balance and shibboleths to preserve.

This is true, even of the Greens whose position is most explicitly about the rights of asylum seekers. One of the more intriguing manoeuvres of the last parliamentary sitting week was the Coalition’s offer to increase the refugee intake to 20,000 per year and limit processing times to 12 months, provided it accompanied offshore processing in Nauru. The Greens had long called for such an increase, but offshore processing proved too much of a compromise.

The Greens should  be tried for treason and locked up in padded cells where they cannot hurt themselves.

There is certainly some ethical appeal in the Greens’ argument that offshore processing is a breach of international obligations, but there is a political imperative here, too. The Greens appeal to a constituency for whom any backdown on offshore processing is unthinkable, even at great human cost. The net result is that Australia continues to process and detain asylum seekers onshore – which, don’t forget, remains brutalising – at the expense of thousands more people who continue to languish, and unknown others who will perish at sea. This all-or-nothing approach, as political as it is principled, meant no compromise from the Greens was ever really a possibility. Asylum seekers’ human rights must be protected, even if it kills them.

I don’t care for counterfeit ‘human rights’ who will bring about our demise.

But the crocodile tears are most obvious in the case of the major parties whose political concerns are the opposite of human rights purism. For them, notwithstanding the rhetoric, this is and remains a question of sovereignty and security; of demonstrating the capacity to keep the boats out – not because people might drown at sea if they attempt the journey, but because they understand the hostility in the electorate toward asylum seekers. We must not simply stop the boats. We must simultaneously deny access. We must create the illusion of a secure fortress, girt by moat, not a thoroughfare.

It takes a mohammedan gait-prop like Waleed Aly to tell us that our politicians  “understand the hostility in the electorate toward asylum seekers”- then why are the boats not returned?

This much was abundantly clear during the Howard era, which dispensed with even the pretence of compassion, and it shows up occasionally in Tony Abbott’s often militaristic symbolism. This is why he wants the Navy to turn boats back, even though they think it is a bad idea and Indonesia won’t let it happen. None of this matters because it sounds like something you do to resist the kind of “invasion” to which we are ostensibly being subjected.

Stop blathering about ‘compassion’ Aly, there is none among the believers and appealing to us to welcome our halal butchers just sucks.

Labor is similarly beholden to this political imagery thanks largely to the social politics of its now departed blue collar base. Thus it finds itself proposing a solution that is probably far harsher than the Coalition’s, having once derided and dismantled the Howard government’s Pacific solution for its inhumanity. But Labor’s confusion in this area is not mere coincidence. Its central problem is that it has never been clear on precisely which problem it was solving. It wanted to act in the interests of asylum seekers, while looking as though it was defending a hostile electorate.

Labor got us into this mess so Labor’s gotta go. They’re done. Finished.

So, for all the rhetorical realignment, we are stuck with the perpetual division in asylum seeker policy between those who prioritise the rights of asylum seekers and those who see them as some kind of threat. If that division is obscured, it is for one simple reason: that however much our politicians want to protect asylum seekers, or protect the nation that so bizarrely fears them, they want most of all to protect themselves.

How heroic of you to stick your neck out, Aly.

Waleed Aly is the presenter of Radio National’s Drive program and lectures in politics at Monash University, where he also works within the Global Terrorism Research Centre. He is the author of People Like Us and What’s Right: The Future of Conservatism in Australia. A shorter version of this piece appeared in the August issue of The Monthly.

Muselmanic Entitlement
“Every human deserves and every human needs…” what? We are not Muslims in Australia. These people are not our problem. Why, for heavens sake why are we bringing them here?

The Australian government is trying to improve a system that some say encourages refugees to travel to the country illegally rather than go through the official channels.

As a panel of experts entrusted with looking at the country’s policy on asylum seekers prepares to report on the matter, Al Jazeera’s Andrew Thomas went to Puncak in West Java, Indonesia, to meet some of the people searching for a better life.

Most said they will wait for the official system to take its course, but with Australia still accepting far more refugees who arrive by boat than those who go through that system, asylum seekers feel pressured to take to the sea.

6 thoughts on “Waleed Aly: What is the problem with asylum seekers?”

  1. Why try and obfuscate your motivation Mr Walid Ali? It’s obvious it’s all about bums on seats for you and your ilk.

    Muslim bums.

    Now what if all the boat people happened to be Jewish?

    I guarantee Mr Walid Ali and his cohorts would be singing an entirely different tune. And you can bet your bottom dollar you’d get Middle eastern voices on talkback radio threatening to go out and sink them.

  2. I detest this oily eyed con artist. What is even more nauseating is the fawning dhimmies from the ABC who promote this polished turd as some sort of entertaining front man and ‘regular bloke’. Blind Freddie could see through this sniggering poser.

  3. Australia voted these muslim sympathizers into office, you deserve what you get…. Same in the US, if we re-elect the muslim Obama we deserve what we get the next four years with the muslim in the white house. Another 4 years and Obama will send ships to muslim countries to pick them up and bring them to the US.

  4. Ali is an invidious rat. You can see an example on that ridiculous ‘comedy’ on SBS called ‘Salam Cafe’ where he plays a terrorist and thinks its funny.

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