Muslim community leaders could learn a thing or two from the Prime Minister’s press conference held after the Bourke Street attack. It wasn’t political point scoring, nor was it pandering to the very real concerns Australians have about Muslim immigration. It was controlled, measured and honest.
An obvious preface should be made. If you think Muslims are all terrorists, you are wrong. If you think Islam, by default, justifies terrorism, you are also wrong. But, if you think that Islamic extremism is not a very real and serious threat to the world in the twenty-first century, you are certainly wrong.
Anne Aly’s insulting comparison of radical Islamist terrorism to domestic violence does nothing but cheapen both issues. There is nothing wrong with calling out a problem within a community, even if it doesn’t feel politically correct.
There is a very real problem with radicalisation within Muslim communities in the West. But Muslim communities must also acknowledge the lack of any counter-narrative told by very proud community leaders. Not proud by way of their communities’ achievements, but too proud to admit that something is seriously wrong.
That is not to say all community leaders are part of the problem. Scott Morrison himself has had a long and productive relationship with many Muslim community leaders during his time as immigration minister and Treasurer.
All mainstream Muslim groups in Australia condemn terrorist acts immediately and have never condoned the actions of the perpetrator. But why is it that the two largest Muslim community bodies (Muslim’s Australia and the Australian National Imams Council) become so timid when wanting to discuss the ideological underpinnings of such acts? Pointing out such failures, especially Imams out of touch with young people in their congregation, is nothing to be shy about.
It is essential that all major Islamic organisations work to support government and law enforcement in calling out what the Bourke Street attack was, ‘radical, violent, extremist Islam’.
Islamic community leaders in Australia should be setting examples for how an Australian Muslim should respond in this time of crisis. Instead, Australian Muslims are told to act as victims ourselves; victims of mean-spirited political leaders who just want vengeance and retribution against all those who share the terrorist’s faith.
It is important to point out that the Prime Minister wasn’t speaking about Muslims but to Muslims. Instead, by using the very word ‘extremist’ Morrison was distinguishing most peaceful Muslims from the evil fringe elements who wish to do our country harm.
This seems to have been lost on several Muslim community groups, who saw this as ‘political point scoring’ and ‘scapegoating’.
Herein lies the problem. Some Islamic community leaders are more concerned about semantics than terrorism. In an age of political correctness, amplified by the Left, Islamic organisations have managed to manoeuvre away from any direct action on Islamist extremism, while also indemnifying themselves from any responsibility, due to their lack of leadership.
Australian Muslims who become radicalised, aren’t just doing so online. They’re becoming radicalised in suburbs like Bankstown, Auburn and Parramatta. They’re becoming radicalised in the great multicultural heartlands that we as Australians pride ourselves in. They’re becoming radicalised in our own backyards.
If Muslim community leaders cannot accept that this is a very real issue, then what hope do we have against those who wish to impose very serious, illiberal policies like immigration bans? Why is every condemnation of an attack, followed by a condemnation of a real or perceived grievance which takes up more words in a press release then the condemnation of the attack itself?
Denial of the existence of radical elements within the Islamic community does no one any favours. It certainly does not prevent what happened on Bourke Street from happening again.
The Prime Minister’s rhetoric isn’t the problem. The failure of some Islamic leaders in Australia is.
Mohamed Rumman is a former president of the UTS Liberal Club.
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