Parramatta shooting shows Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull wrong about being sensitive with terrorism
The Daily Telegraph
October 5 2015.
"Who dares speak frankly about any of this, when our new Prime Minister implies what’s really inflammatory is not Islam but Australia?"
LAST Friday morning, just before Curtis Cheng was murdered, Malcolm Turnbull revealed he would be more sensitive in tackling terrorism.
Gone would be “the blunt and often divisive language used by his predecessor Tony Abbott”, The Australian reported, clearly briefed by our new Prime Minister or his team.
Abbott’s rude talk had just “alienated many in the Islamic community”, and “Mr Turnbull will adopt a new, more inclusive tone”.
This was just what the media Left had claimed to want when it was looking for excuses to kick Abbott.
How those journalists had savaged Abbott for what they gleefully claimed was his politically motivated scaremongering about terrorism and his “inflammatory” and “divisive” language — language that actually seemed plain common sense.
How dare he alienate Muslims by asking them “to be part of ‘Team Australia’’.
How dare he suggest Muslim leaders did not condemn Islamist terrorism strongly enough, even saying that although Western leaders called Islam a religion of peace, “I wish more Muslim leaders would say that more often and mean it”?
And how crass to keep referring to the head-hacking Islamic State death cult as, er, a death cult?
See, phrases like “death cult” just upset Muslims, protested journalists and Labor.
And Turnbull whispered that, too, as he privately white-anted Abbott.
Sometimes Turnbull didn’t just whisper it, either. In July he shouted it in a speech, warning that unnamed people “over-estimate” the jihadist threat.
“It’s easy to sensationalise these scoundrels, these criminals, and we need … to be careful that we are not amplifying their own work, their significance,” he said loftily.
But he wasn’t talking about Abbott, he protested.
But he was, of course, which Friday’s news story now proves.
Well, let’s go back to that Friday. That afternoon, 15-year-old Farhad Khalil Mohammad Jabar went to his Parramatta mosque.
We’re not sure what he did there, or whom he saw. Nor do we know how this Iraqi Kurd from Iran got his hands on a gun.
But Farhad then walked to the Parramatta police station, slipped behind Curtis Cheng, who worked in the station’s finance department, and shot him in the head.
He repeatedly shouted “Allah” until he was in turn shot dead by police. NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said Farhad’s attack seemed politically motivated, and thus terrorism.
Little had Turnbull known how soon he’d get to demonstrate his new “inclusive” rhetoric. But on Saturday we heard it. Turnbull, reading from prepared notes, insisted “the Australian Muslim community will be especially appalled and shocked” by the act of terrorism.
“We must not vilify or blame the entire Muslim community with the actions of what is, in truth, a very, very small percentage of violent extremist individuals.”
And, true, most Muslims would hate what was done. They must not be vilified or treated as enemies. Yet Turnbull is still wrong. Very wrong.
First, he was wrong to have scapegoated Abbott, and imply Abbott was partly responsible for driving Muslim youths to extremism.
The threat from Islamist terrorism here is little different to the threat faced by almost every Western country, whether their leaders talk as sweetly as the French President or as tough as the Israeli Prime Minister.
In other words, the problem lies not in “us” or our politicians, but in Islam itself — in its sacred texts that preach intolerance and condone violence against unbelievers.
In fact, I doubt that 15-year-old Farhad even knew whether Turnbull or Abbott was now Prime Minister, or would have cared.
Second, Turnbull is wrong because the proportion of violent extremist individuals in our Muslim community is not “very, very small”. In fact, for the size of the community here — fewer than 500,000 — it is dangerously high.
Those numbers suggest the third and fundamental reason Turnbull is wrong.
He is wrong to attack Abbott because that just encourages the almost pathological blame-shifting of so many Muslim leaders and representatives. So many just blame Australia and the West for the violent extremism that curiously comes almost exclusively from their community.
On the ABC’s Q&A we’ve heard from a dozen at least, claiming Muslims are the real victims and accusing our governments and police and anti-Muslim conspiracies.
Muslim academic Randa Abdel-Fattah, for instance, said: “I’m very cynical about the government’s use of these (anti-terrorist) raids to politicise the Muslim problem of terrorism.”
Muslim journalist Mona Eltahawy said: “None of you do absolutely anything to help us. You’ve always sold us out.”
Stronger stuff is preached in the more radical mosques and meeting halls. Hizb ut Tahrir spokesman Wassim Doureihi, for one, was filmed shouting to followers: “Even if a thousand bombs went off in this country, all that it will prove is that the Muslims are angry, and they have every reason to be angry.”
Even the Grand Mufti, Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohammed, blamed Abbott’s support for Israel for causing young Muslims to sign up for the Islamic State, rather than blame Islam itself for inspiring such slaughter.
And this kind of moral evasion is what Turnbull has encouraged by scapegoating Abbott. He has taken the pressure off Muslim leaders to reform their faith.
He has taken the pressure off us to seriously debate whether Islam — as interpreted by many — actually fits into a multi-religious secular democracy.
And he’s made it harder to have the honest debate we need about whether to accept more Muslim refugees.
Man Monis, an Iranian “refugee” and Islamist, staged the deadly Lindt cafe siege;
Numan Haider, an Afghan “refugee” and Islamic State recruit, stabbed two police in Melbourne;
Mohammad Ali Baryalei, an Afghan “refugee”, became a recruiter and fighter for the Islamic State;
Saney Edow Aweys, a Somalian “refugee”, plotted to attack the Holsworthy Army base.
So should we accept more Muslim refugees, or take in Christians instead? Would Christian refugees be less likely to hate us, and more likely to thrive?
But here again, Turnbull may have weakened the “divisive” Abbott policy.
Muslim leaders say the government’s Refugee Resettlement Advisory Council last week told them the 12,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees we’re taking won’t be selected by religion, as Abbott hints, but by need.
True, Turnbull privately knows Christians are the most persecuted minority, so should still qualify first. But who now knows?
And which mainstream politician now dares say so?
Who dares speak frankly about any of this, when our new Prime Minister implies what’s really inflammatory is not Islam but Australia?