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Christchurch and Muslim versus non-Muslim terrorism

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(Meme via @tariqyx)

That Australian white supremacist terrorists appear to have made a major contribution to those 50 innocent deaths in Christchurch is a matter of national shame, writes Bilal Cleland.

WE IN THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY have become used to constant denunciations of muharibs as “Islamic terrorists” and the association of our way of life with murder, suicide bombings and outrageous atrocities in various parts of the world.

Our Islamic organisations continually denounce criminal acts and defend the Quran from the slanders of the hate brigade to little avail. The danger from white supremacists is largely ignored.

The atrocities in New Zealand on Friday 15 March at the hands of such criminals highlighted the danger to the Muslim community they present.

In November 2018, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that the Muslim community in Australia must be more “proactive” in tackling the threat of terror. 

After the attack in Christchurch, the Prime Minister first described it on Twitter as 'a serious shooting':

 But four hours later he called for flags to be flown at half-mast 'for all those killed in the terrorist attack':

This apparent reluctance to view white supremacist atrocities as “terrorism” has long been scandalous from the viewpoint of the Muslim community.

The different interpretation given by Australian authorities to two atrocities in Bourke Street Melbourne illustrated this blindspot.

In January 2017, Mr Gargasoulas drove up the footpath of Melbourne's Bourke Street Mall, killing six people and injuring another 27.

During his trial in November 2018, he made a statement about the Illuminati and oppression as he gave evidence and told the jury he had a premonition from God before driving to Bourke Street:

“God’s royal laws of liberty have to be throughout the whole world in order to pass judgment day.”

In Australian law a "terrorist act" is an act, or a threat to commit an act, that is done with the intention to coerce or influence the public or any government by intimidation to advance a political, religious or ideological cause and the act causes serious harm.

A relevant intention seems to be covered in this case, yet the police were quick to assure the public that the Bourke Street atrocity was not a terrorist act.

The Greek community newspaper Neos Kosmos commented that although the killer was of Greek heritage:

'Luckily, we were spared the kind of generalisations that the public sphere inflicts on other communities, the rhetoric that Muslims around the world are used to being the target of every time a deranged extremist goes through with an act of terrorism.'

This murder trial was going on at about the same time as another atrocity occurred in Bourke Street, on Friday, 9 November 2018, where '... one man was killed and two others injured after being stabbed by a 30-year-old Somali man.' 

In the 9 November incident, Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said:

“We are treating this as a terrorism incident.”

This criminal, from a Muslim background, was very quickly identified as a terrorist. The Somali was a terrorist, the Greek Orthodox killer was not!

These two incidents reveal the blindspot in counter-terrorism policy in this country.

This is not found only in Australia — a recent case in Germany has also shown how dangerous it can be. The Ceska Murders between 2000 and 2007 involved the murders of eight Turks, a Greek and a German policewoman. The case ran for 18 years and the five-year long trial ended only in 2018 with Beate Zschape of the National Socialist Underground found guilty of ten counts of racially motivated murder and given a life sentence.

The German police had a blind spot.

As it dealt with Turks, the police focused on mafia and drug-related crimes and the media

“… stereotyped the serial killings as the “Kebab” or “Doner Murders”, even though only one of the victims worked in a food outlet.”

Racism accounted for that blind spot.

As the former president of Munich's Higher Regional Court stated:

“… these criminals were undiscovered for so long because their motives were based on anti-foreigner sentiment and neo-Nazi ideology.” 

Germany, Australia and New Zealand would do well to take notice of the findings of a new report from the Anti-Defamation League Center on Extremism, that every extremist killing in the U.S. in 2018 had a link to some variety of right-wing extremism. 

The danger these terrorists present to the Muslim community – and indeed the wider community – given the collateral damage in Christchurch, has been very starkly demonstrated before the world.

That Australian white supremacist terrorists appear to have made a major contribution to those 50 innocent deaths is a matter of national shame.

Bilal Cleland is a retired secondary teacher and was Secretary of the Islamic Council of Victoria, Chairman of the Muslim Welfare Board Victoria and Secretary of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils.

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