We should be suspicious when 800 police conduct “terror” raids across Australia, but only one person is charged with a relevant terrorism offence (of which we know few details).
We should be suspicious of the lurid tales of terrorists planning to behead Australians in the street when previous scares have had little foundation. As Australia’s Green Left paper points out: “Nobody has ever been convicted of planning or conducting a specific terrorist act in Australia under the so-called anti-terror laws.”
We should be suspicious when the raids and the scare stories occur just before a Senate vote on draconian new anti-terror laws, which include limits to press freedom, further invasion of privacy and the granting of immunity to intelligence officers breaking the law. The laws subsequently passed.
We should also be suspicious when the Abbott government plays up ISIS terror threats just as it is seeking public support for dispatching military personnel to combat ISIS.
We should be suspicious when the unpopular Abbott government gets a jump in the polls after whipping up suspicions that the Islamic community may be harbouring “terrorists”.
And we should be very worried when the consequence of this fear-mongering, rather than the identification on any actual terrorist plots, has been greater harassment of Australia’s Muslim community.
Across Australia Muslims are being abused, threatened and stopped at airports. One Brisbane mosque was spray-painted with “Get the f… out of our country”.
Incredibly, three men of “Middle Eastern appearance” were removed from the Roosters-Cowboys league game and interrogated by the Police “for using their mobile phones in a way that did not match what was happening on the field.”
Australia’s “war on terror” is more like a war on Australia’s Muslim community..
The “war on terror” feeds on the consequences of its own actions. The harassment of Muslims that goes hand in hand with anti-terror laws, plus the Western military interference in Islamic countries, does produce some extreme responses, as we saw in the recent stabbing of two Australian police officers by a Muslim youth.
The solution is not more wars, more laws and greater surveillance of the population, but a fairer and more tolerant society.
As for the extremist ISIS group, it wouldn’t exist but for the American-led invasion and occupation of Iraq, which enabled its initial recruitment of Sunni resistance fighters. The policies of ISIS are not popular among the people it rules and it relies on the hostility of Western powers to survive. The Israeli paper Haaretz headlined a recent article: “Islamic State recruitment is soaring in the wake of US bombing” and reported that 6000 new fighters joined ISIS “since the US began targeting the group with air strikes last month.” Western military intervention has helped ISIS politically and is part of the problem, not the solution.