Thoughts on the London Bombing – #2

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.

A statement by former British Foreign Affairs Minister Robin Cook (found at Antony Loewenstein’s site) says what I was endeavouring to say in my post yesterday in a much clear way:

“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.

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15 Comments

  1. At present, the policies of multiculturalism and open immigration stand condemned for the terrorist attacks in London, and in New York four years ago.
    These policies are not entitled to preservation by default.
    The onus is on the supporters of relaxed immigration policies to prove that the importation of religious extremists does not lead to terrorism.
    I don’t think such proof is possible. The UK is now paying the price for its openness to the immigration of fanatics.

  2. I guess the policy of sending troops to East Timor wasn’t so smart after all.
    Isolationism is the answer.

  3. EP, It never ceases to amaze me that Australian conservative, so enthralled with power politics and might makes right, do everything they can to make Australia unpowerful.
    For Australia as a nation-state to be powerful it will require a population of 60 million, with the resultant economic power that will stem from a consumer based economy with that large a domestic market. Australian GDP will rival the UK’s, France’s and Germany’s.
    The only way we can ramp up like that, is the increase immigration, up to one million a year. Australia has had no terrorist attacks. The US and UK have, but driving on the highway remains more perilious for the average citizen than terrorism.
    I actually assume more risk by eating under-cooked meat, than I do from terrorism – and I live in a high risk part of the world atm (Washington DC). Terror doesnt scare me, nor does Immigration.
    The previous waves of immigration get absorbed, but the process takes about a generation. Currently the Lebanese-Australians are the default to catch blame. When I was a teen it was the Greek-Australians, but now you cant get more Australian than a Greek-Australian. They have their own Australian accent and Australian culture.
    The Irish were Australia’s under-class in the convict labor era. Now Australians are trying to equate themselves to being related to Irish convicts. The same process will happen with the Lebanese-Australians as they get absorbed into Australian culture and carve out their adaptation of it.
    Having an isolationist view of immigration, retards the nations economic development in the same way that protectionist policies in trade do.
    The Australian Settlement is slowly being dismantled. We increased regional immigration in the 70s, removed protectionist policies in the 80s; and modernising the constitution will be the last step in flushing Deakin from our system.
    There is absolutely no reason to go back to Deakinism; in immigration, economy or government. It is the ghost of Australia past, rather than the flesh and blood of the Australian future.

  4. I was listening to Radio National last Friday morning: Fran Kelly was interviewing some terrorism expert from the UK. He was saying that the British counter-terrorism people have been doing very good work, and had made several important raids which probably prevented other attacks. “Of course”, he said, “these were not the result of successful infiltration operations. They were all based on information received from the local British Muslim community.” Fran Kelly just said “Yes.”, like she knew that. But I was astonished. I have not read or heard that fact anywhere else, before or since. Why is this not being shouted from the rooftops? Surely it would be just what’s needed to undermine the knee-jerk reaction of blaming all Muslims (and thus wanting to exclude them from ‘our’ countries, wanting beat up on women wearing head scarves, etc, etc).

  5. Cameron, there are plenty of potential immigrants available from non-Muslim origins.
    Unassimilated Islamic communities have been sources of terrorism and civil unrest from Paris to Thailand over the last few decades. It is only common sense to avoid such situations while we can.
    If Muslims can prove that they really reject terrorism — not by givinmg platitudes and making excuses for terror, but by concrete action — then we could consider tham a part of the community.

  6. – Paul O’Sullivan, deputy secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, is to replace Dennis Richardson at the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. –
    Perhaps Chen Y and the revelations on the number of economic/industrial spies in Australia has had an effect after all. Comments?

  7. EP, What offends me is how scared, fearful and irrational you are. You would deny several hundred million muslims the chance to contribute to Australia, simply because you wet your pants over a sleeper cell of thirty people.
    A common joke in the US after the WTC and Pentagon attacks was that people were more in danger from under-cooked meat, a real worry considering how rare restaurants cook them here, than from terrorism. A joke in Britain recently has been that the British raised the threat level to “A strong cup of tea”.
    That is resilience. Banning all Muslims from immigration is shameful in comparison, and from a fearful and gullible mind. I will not comment on the deeper negative passions which lurk behind your original comment.

  8. Cameron, I am impressed by the level of stupidity you display.
    We are at war. During WWII I doubt we let many Germans immigrate, even though Nazis were only a minority of that country’s citizens.
    Similarly, during a civilizational conflict between Islamism and democratic humanism, it is foolish to import potential enemies.
    It is your blind devotion to political correctness that prevents you from adopting a rational view. Fortunately there are other people who are not impeded by your ignorance and short-sightedness.

  9. EP: If Muslims can prove that they really reject terrorism — not by givinmg platitudes and making excuses for terror, but by concrete action — then we could consider tham a part of the community.
    What constitutes concrete action?

  10. Concrete action, as I defined it on my blog:
    Platitudes are no longer enough. If they can issue fatwas against Salman Rushdie, they can issue fatwas against Osama bin Laden and his cohorts. Why don’t they? Someone in Britain’s Islamic community knows who the bombers are. If nobody steps forward to identify them, what are we to believe?
    I’m aware that there have been some formal condemnations of terrorism by a few Muslim clerics. I think that there need to be a whole lot more, plus some turning-in of terrorists and supporters to the authorities, before it can be accepted that the majority of Muslims really are opposed to terrorism.
    In assessing their motives, it is important to bear in mind the Islamic principle of taqqiyah, or lying about one’s faith for the sake of self-preservation. For this reason, mere assertions of non-support for terrorism cannot be taken at face value — some sort of concrete action is required to demonstrate sincerity.
    If Muslim communities fail to outlaw terrorists by means of fatwa, and fail to assist anti-terrorist activities by handing over the information they undoubtedly have, then they cannot be considered a rightful part of a tolerant, multicultural society.

  11. There is an absurd logic in the comparison of the danges of “under cooked meat” to threat of terrorism. The former, I can avoid simply by the choices I make. The latter is thrust upon us all by those who reject certain self-evident truths.

  12. EP, Heh like Muslim religious leaders speak for all Muslims. I am Australian and neither Howard or Beazley speak for me. It is a meaningless demand on your part. I also dislike your use of a conspiratorial “they” when talking of Muslims. It is irrational to think of Muslims as one large homogenous group whose focus is to commit terrorist acts.
    tryan, When was the last time you were asked by a restaurant if you wanted your chicken well done? In terms of risk assumption terrorism pales in comparison to day to day activities.

  13. Hey EP, do you suppose the 50 million muslim folk who inhabit the utter chaos we have helped to create in Afghanistan and Iraq think we are evil doing invaders who should to ejected?

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