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You’d be forgiven for thinking, after reading the mainstream media of the 1% and hearing some of its politicians, that the Grand Mufti of Australia was some dangerous radical who supported ISIS. Far from it.

If you read his statement of 15 November (reproduced right), he and the Australian National Imams Council mourned

'... the loss of innocent lives due to the recent terrorist attacks in France.’

They conveyed ‘their deepest condolences to the families and friends of the deceased’ and reiterated that

‘.... the sanctity of human life is guaranteed under Islam.’

In other words, the Grand Mufti did condemn the terrorist attacks.

So why the condemnation of the Mufti? There are two reasons.

First, the Mufti and the Council spoke truth to power when they said that the terrorist attack in Paris

‘... highlights the fact that ‘current strategies to deal with the threat of terrorism are not working.’

As they said, bombing Syria and its civilians, curtailing basic democratic rights and freedoms, unleashing racism and Islamophobia won’t fix the problem. In fact, it will worsen it and reinforce support for ISIS.

The Mufti's "crime" was to point out the West’s role in creating the climate for these attacks.

That is one reason the reactionaries (hard Tory types and soft liberals, together plus out and out racists and fascists) have gone on the attack over the Mufti daring to point out the obvious.

The truth always disappoints those who create a panopticon of lies, whether it be about invading Iraq in 2003 or putting refugees in the Manus Island and Nauru gulags.

Western invasions, racism, Islamophobia, the curtailing of individual liberties, all are part of the explanation for this terrorist attack. Invading Iraq and killing up to 1.5 million Iraqis was, as we pointed out in our demonstrations against the Iraq War in 2003, always going to produce a backlash. It has, and this mirror of Western barbarity called ISIS is now wreaking destruction in the West, although its main victims remain Muslims in Iraq and Syria.

The politicians and others condemning the Mufti are the very people who, to use one example of their rotten actions, lock innocent men, women and children, many of them fleeing the barbarity that is ISIS, in gulags on Manus Island and Nauru, or support such action. These people have no moral high ground from which to lecture others about "civilisation", justice, democracy, freedom and Western "values".

The second reason for these incessant calls for the Mufti to "properly condemn" terrorist attacks, even after he has done so, is the reality of the grand coalition of racism in Australia and the West. It is part of the attempts by the racist right to blame Muslims for the ISIS attacks. 

These reactionaries hope in a climate of fear to build their brand of racism in Australia and win political support for their positions by tapping into the latent racism of a section of society.  The government is happy enough with these attacks because they too want to cement that racist right behind them and to divert attention away from the economic issues plaguing the country, the two most important being unemployment and poverty. They also want to unite the country behind them under the false flags of fear and jingoism.

As a colonial settler state, there has been a process of government "othering" in Australia stretching back to 1788.  Aboriginal peoples are the eternal other in our society. But different groups at different periods have also filled that role, whether it be the Chinese, the Irish, Jews, Southern Europeans; or today, asylum seekers, especially Muslim asylum seekers.

To mistreat asylum seekers, governments have to de-humanise them. To bomb Syria and justify killing innocent men women and children, governments have to create a de-humanised image of an enemy that is not just ISIS but Syrians themselves. So those fleeing ISIS and Assad are Syrians and, hence, ipso facto, bad Syrians too. This both reflects and fits into the wider narrative of racism in Australian society and reinforces it.

The pro-Muslim and anti-Reclaim Australia rallies across Australia on Sunday 22 November provided a perfect opportunity for people to voice their support for Muslims in Australia against the racists and fascists.

Far from being condemned, the Grand Mufti of Australia deserves our support for pointing out some of the Western drivers behind these terrorist attacks. More of the same by the West – bombings, racism, Islamophobia, locking up people without evidence, closing the borders – will only strengthen support for ISIS.

John Passant is a doctoral student in the School of Politics and International Relations at the ANU. He blogs daily at En Passant. You can follow John on Twitter @JohnPassant.

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