Calming Islam fears difficult in current climate

SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association) Every Muslim in Australia should “stand up and condemn this horrible thing and they should be doing it all the time”, says one of Brisbane’s Islamic leaders, as tensions over the elevated terror threat alert and what it could mean domestically continue to simmer.

But the media and politicians also have an important role to play in calming the emotions and irrational fears which often accompany such an announcement, Brisbane academic Mark Lauchs said.

The arrest of two Logan men on terror-related charges, which Premier Campbell Newman and police have been quick to point out are allegedly related to funding and recruiting for war overseas and have no domestic links, combined with the raising of the nation’s terror threat level from moderate to high, have led to an increase in threats to members of the state’s Islamic community.

Both Mr Newman and Prime Minister Tony Abbott have made the “critically important” point “this is not about a religion”.

“This is not about a particular group in the community, this is about a very small group of criminals who wish to undertake criminal acts against members of the community,” Mr Newman said on Friday.

“We should all continue to work together as a community and be confident that our values of democracy, the rule of law, tolerance and a fair go are the things that ultimate keep us together.”

Pointing out the raised terror threat level has nothing to do with a particular religion or group in society runs the risk of becoming a “self-fulfilling prophecy”, but Queensland University of Technology associate professor Mark Lauchs said it was a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation”.

“But I don’t know what alternative they’ve got.  Because making explicit statements saying this is not true is about the best thing you can do, but history shows that actually doesn’t work,” he said.

“…I think you need to reinforce it as often as you can.  We had a story the other day when the AFP were announcing the charges against the guys who were running the bookstore on the south-side of Brisbane. I was watching the interview live and they made a very clear statement that it was absolutely important that the presumption of innocence be maintained and all these men are innocent until proven guilty and it wasn’t reported by anyone.

“I have only seen two times anyone reporting that Tony Abbott making it clear that this is not related to Islam and both times that was on Sky News commentary…by supporters of Tony Abbott.  No one else has actually played it.”

Dr Siki Sabdia, former president of Islamic Trust for the Kuraby Mosque, said his community also needed to “put it out there all the time” that “this does not involve Islam”.

“I think Muslims should get together or appoint someone to help deal with the press and put it out there all the time that we condemn it totally and condemn what is happening with Muslims in those countries,” he said.

“As soon as it happens, they should be out there.  This is wrong.  Totally wrong.  Completely wrong.  And if anybody in Australia supports it, I think it is crazy.  I think they shouldn’t be here then, really, as a Muslim, I am saying this. You can live in harmony with people no matter who they are – Christians, Jews, Atheists, it is not your business to decide for them.  And if you can’t live with them, then find somewhere else to live.”


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