Sydney shooting: jihadism isn’t about winning rights for Muslims

The Australian, October 06, 2015 6:12PM

Chris Kenny, Associate Editor (National Affairs)

Imagine if you will that after yet another horrific case of domestic violence, with a woman being murdered by her partner, we had a unanimous message from our political leaders and law enforcement authorities.

Just imagine that after publicly sympathising with the victim they stressed what they said was an important message for the community.

Then they warned us that it would be wrong to vilify all men for this crime, and that it was vital the community engages with men in our community and co-operates with them because they will be crucial partners in stamping out this social and criminal epidemic.

Although the lack of culpability for all men and the need to engage with men are axiomatic, such a call, of course, would be inane and unthinkable.

Yet this is the default reaction of political and security leaders when it comes to Islamist extremism.

This is the sort of misdirected response we heard from governments, federal and state, oppositions and law enforcement agencies.

Rather than focus on sharing the understandable community distress and outrage at the deliberate slaughter of innocent civilians, and the persistent and pernicious threat of jihadist terrorism, our authorities placed a greater emphasis on expressing sympathy and concern for one section of our population: the Muslim community.

This is both a perversion of the real challenge confronting the nation — including Muslim communities — and a patronising display towards public awareness and cohesion.

And even more disturbingly, it is an oblique endorsement of the invented grievances that Islamist extremists constantly use to promote their cause.

It is the constant bid for victimhood and the blaming of all the ills of the Muslim world on the influence of the West that is used to foment extremist ideology and action.

These grievances are not authentic and nor do they go to the heart of Islamist extremist motives; they are politically useful messages to spread and encourage their followers and to undermine our resistance.

Jihadism isn’t about winning rights for Muslims, removing Israel from the Palestinian territories, stopping Western intervention in the Middle East or any of a host of other grievances.

It is about killing or converting those who resist Sharia and the Caliphate — it is about a deadly struggle that divides the world into believers and their enemies.

There is no appeasing it.

Yet our leaders unwittingly offer a complementary message; they seem to think they need to pull back on the reins of an expected community backlash against Muslims.

Innocents are murdered and the warning goes out that the innocents must watch their behaviour.

Apart from some relatively minor incidents and the infamously invented pretext for the “I’ll ride with you” Twitter campaign after the Martin Place attack, there has been no evidence of an anti-Muslim backlash in this country.

As ever, Australia is notable for its prevailing cohesiveness rather than divisions.

The ongoing engagement with Muslim communities is obviously necessary, beneficial and not new.

That it might receive added emphasis after recent events, or might benefit from a change of tone with a new Prime Minister might also be a good thing but it is neither here nor there — the process needs to be ongoing, two-way, constant and unexceptional.

But the action that counts is combating Islamist extremists — changing the law or the tone won’t convince them to change their ways.

Worryingly, a patronising message that seeks to warn and chastise the very mainstream community that is being targeted by violence is being combined with a lack of frankness about the terrorist threat.

There is an obvious reluctance to openly identify and explain events as they happen.

Despite the Parramatta shooter yelling ‘Allah Akbar’ as he murdered Curtis Cheng then fired shots outside the police headquarters, police waited until the next day before admitting there was a link to terrorism.

Almost five hours after the attack, NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said there was “nothing to link this event to any terrorist related activity” but he couldn’t rule it out.

Couldn’t rule it out? Here was a Muslim teenager, dressed in black robes yelling “Allah Akbar” as he killed a stranger.

The police must have known this at the time but they decided not to share the information, leaving it to word of mouth and social media reports to drip-feed details to the nation.

It is as though the authorities don’t think the public can be trusted with reality; when the experience in this nation is that the public are perfectly capable of dealing with these issues rationally, proportionately and, importantly, cohesively.

The most likely way to undermine public faith in law enforcement practices or fracture the broad tolerance within our community would be to create the impression that the truth was being hidden — that the public was not being given full and frank information.

The public warnings that are needed are against the extremists — it is the Jihadists who threaten the wellbeing of all Australians, Muslim and non-Muslim alike.

When law abiding citizens are deliberately gunned down in the street, it is not law abiding citizens who need lecturing from political and community leaders.

They deserve honest and sensible information and debate. And they don’t expect anyone should feel the need to tone down or hide their disgust at the senseless murder of an innocent man.

The embracing tone from Malcolm Turnbull, Bill Shorten, Mike Baird and Andrew Scipione has, unsurprisingly, won much praise from a political media that tends to be as squeamish on these issues as it is on border protection.

Sure, nuance is needed.

But aside from reassuring and working with our Muslim communities, our leaders need to demonstrate to all members of the public that they comprehend the Islamist extremist threat and are willing to confront it in public discussion — as well as law enforcement — rather than treat it like an evil whose name we dare not speak.

This article is from The Australian:

The reason I have re-published it here is the following comments, which seem to indicate that Chris Kenny would like this spread on social media. I will be posting links to this on Facebook. If The Australian or Chris have any objection to this, please let me know and I will take it down. Please note that I have given proper credit and links.


4 hours ago

Chris, can you make this article free – it is actually the most important thing that has been written on this topic ever And it is exactly right. It is important that everyone reads it.

Chris The Australian 4 hours ago

Not within my remit sorry – share it on social media if you can. Thanks CK