Today’s Age newspaper carries comments from 5 different Australian Muslim and Arabic groups and representatives. All condemn the bombings and some also rightly call for a rethink on the tactics and approach to the so-called ‘war on terror’. I for one don’t want my country to be permanently in the middle of a war we can never win. We will also never lose such a war in the traditional military sense, but terror isn’t just a military weapon, it’s a state of mind and I don’t want Australia’s children growing up immersed in a society of perpetual, barely suppressed anxiety and apprehension.
As the Australian Arabic Council said, “while terrorism will never succeed, the current strategy in confronting it will also not succeed. We need to break the cycle of violence.”
Here’s a couple of articles from the Aljazeera website (found at this site) which contain reactions from Muslims leaders overseas: – Muslims leaders condemn deadly London attacks and Muslim scholars ban killing in the name of Islam.
“The danger now is that the west’s current response to the terrorist threat compounds that original error. So long as the struggle against terrorism is conceived as a war that can be won by military means, it is doomed to fail. The more the west emphasises confrontation, the more it silences moderate voices in the Muslim world who want to speak up for cooperation. Success will only come from isolating the terrorists and denying them support, funds and recruits, which means focusing more on our common ground with the Muslim world than on what divides us.”
(although I would also add that this is about much more than building better links with Muslims, it is about building more understanding and acceptance across all parts of our society and communities)
It is also a good time to remind ourselves that it is very much in our own interests to stand up against injustice and breaches of basic rights, even when it doesn’t seem to be effecting us directly. At a time like this when we need greater understanding and cooperation with Muslim communities, we have to remember the justified scepticism of some Muslims with a Government that determinedly pursued measures such as indefinite detention without charge, deliberately keeping refugees separated from their family, the knowingly false deliberate defamation of asylum seekers as potential terrorists and claims like “I don’t want people like that in this country”, the involvement in invading another country under false pretences when it is now crystal clear the decision to invade was pre-determined, the willingness to allow Mamdouh Habib and David Hicks to be dealt with by the USA in a manner completely outside any sort of due process or the rule of law, the extra ASIO powers which have been used only against Muslims, etc .
All of these things just happen to have had Muslims as direct targets and victims. That is not the same as saying the Govt has attacked all Muslims, but you can hardly blame some Muslim Australians for being somewhat sceptical when it’s suggested that they trust the Govt and ASIO by cooperating with them – especially when so many in the wider Australian community stood by or actively supported the Government whilst it has done these things.
This is why I have consistently said that Government policies which undermine basic freedoms and standards of honesty harm and endanger all Australians, not just the small vulnerable group who are directly being targeted at the time. It’s also why I emphasise that understanding, respect and cooperation will work far better as an intelligence tool in the long run than fear, intimidation and endlessly tougher powers.