SHAFAQNA – Denouncing the fatal shooting of a New South Wales police employee, Australian Muslim leaders have appealed to parents to protect their children from being radicalized, amid warns of potential backlash against the religious minority.
“With this telephone conversation … we felt that the shackles came off,” prominent Muslim community leader Jamal Rifi told AAP on Sunday, October 4.
“The mood right now has shifted. It’s not about blame. It’s about solution.”
Rifi was talking about a phone conference that was held by Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, with the premier of NSW Mike Baird, police commissioner, and eight Muslim leaders to discuss the shooting.
The weekend’s conference came a day after a 15-year-old boy, identified as Farhad Jabar Khalil Mohammad, shot dead NSW police employee Curtis Cheng outside Parramatta headquarters on Friday, September 2.
The boy has been killed after waving a handgun and firing at three special constables, tasked with protecting the police station.
Described the murder as a “tragic incident,” foreign minister Julie Bishop called for unity and warned that blaming the Muslim community would be “utterly counterproductive”.
“When a 15-year-old boy can be so radicalized that he can carry out a politically motivated killing or an act of terrorism, then it’s a time for the whole nation to take stock,” Bishop said on ABC’s Insiders.
Bishop also highlighted the significance of engaging with the Muslims community after the incident.
“So we’re certainly reaching out to the leaders of the Muslim community but working with the families at a grassroots local level,” Bishop said.
“It’s the families that will be our front line of defense against radicalized young people. So we will be working very closely with them.”
Adding to Muslim fears, a Parramatta mosque that was frequently visited by the terror suspect was searched by the police on Saturday.
“They ring me, I went there, they searched, but they didn’t find anything,” Neil El-Kadomi, the chairman of the Parramatta mosque, told the Guardian.
“We support the police, we work with the police, the police were happy with our support.”
Meanwhile, Kadomi of Parramatta mosque, which has been visited few times by the suspect, stressed that the worship place was “unconnected” to Farhad’s actions, saying: “We condemn it.”
“He is not known to us,” El-Kadomi said. “He is a boy, alone, comes sometimes to pray. A very, very limited time. And then what he did is not accepted.”
As the police continue investigating the motivation behind the attack, Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said the assault was “politically motivated and therefore linked to terrorism”.
He also it was important to “separate Farhad’s actions from his faith.”
“First and foremost, simply because a certain person is of the Muslim faith doesn’t mean that they are a terrorist,” he said.
“We shouldn’t be treating entire communities like they are all suspects because that’s simply not the case. This is a small, small, small minority.”
A similar belief was shared by Labor frontbencher Andrew Leigh who said that he hopes there isn’t a backlash against the Muslim community over NSW shooting.
Muslims, who have been in Australia for more than 200 years, make up 1.7% of its 20-million population.
In post 9/11-era, Australian Muslims have been haunted with suspicion and have had their patriotism questioned.
A new survey has found that the majority Australian Muslims feel under siege by the country’s anti-terror laws, accusing them of “unfairly” targeting the religious minority.