It's always frustrating to vote for a party that fails to follow through on implementing its policies. Imagine how frustrating it must be then to follow a political party that is unable to implement its policies because they're unconstitutional.
That's the very dilemma facing the radical right-wing in Australia who want to vote for anti-Islamic politicians such as Pauline Hansen or the Love It Or Leave Party, the Australian Liberty Alliance or any of the other ones who want to ban mosques, halal, burqas and so on.
Australia, like many other democracies, is founded on a Constitution. Section 116 of that Constitution states:
The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth.
It's unconstitutional to prohibit the free exercise of any religion. That's not even taking into account various anti-discrimination laws that prohibit a variety of discriminatory practices on the basis of religion.
So ... dare I say it: Australia - love it or leave it. Love the Constitution or leave the country.
It's not illegal to build a mosque, wear a burqa or certify food as halal. Banning these will not stop terrorism.
Since the terrorist attack in Paris on 11 November 2015, anti-Islam messages have propagated across social media. Including one hoax that claims Japan has no issue with Muslims because it doesn't allow Muslims to be citizens. Sadly, the radical right so desperately hates Islam, it is happy to repeat such garbage without checking its veracity(1).
Imagine the effect that banning Islam will have. For that matter, imagine the effect that banning any religion would have. Would any religious group take it on the chin or would they fight back?
Does anyone seriously think that banning an entire religion will bring peace? Would Muslims just say, 'oh, you know what, we don't really need Islam'. Or would they be angry about it?
Imagine what Christians would do if Christianity was suddenly illegal? Would they fight or just accept it? People lost their minds over Starbucks not having snowflakes and Christmas trees on coffee cups(2), imagine if Christmas really was banned.
Unfortunately, those who lack conceptual skills see a terrorist attack by someone claiming to be Muslim and expand it to be indicative of all Muslims. Based on that logic, all Christians are pedophiles. We even have a Royal Commission exposing the proliferation of Christian pedophiles.
The radical right are suddenly experts in Islam, cherry-picking Koranic scripture to justify terrorism. Not unlike what terrorists do. Yet, the bible also has violent scripture about killing every man, woman and boy child ... in fact, it even says to give the young virgins to the priests (Numbers 31:17-18 - scriptural evidence of pedophilia?). The Koran is full of scripture about peace and tolerance. To demonstrate this, an open letter to the ISIS leader, Al-Baghdadi(3) explains, among other things, that it is forbidden to kill innocents or to harm Christians or Jews (People of the Book), that slavery is forbidden, torture is forbidden, harming women and children is forbidden. The list goes on. The Letter should be read not just by Al-Baghdadi and other extremists, but also by those anti-Islamic types who think they know the Koran better than Muslims do; who want to use the Koran to whip up fear and hatred rather than peace and love.
Much has been made of one of the terrorists in the Paris attack allegedly being a Syrian refugee. This is being used by Islamophobes and anti-refugee groups as evidence of why refugees should be blocked from entering the country. Even if he was a refugee, he would be one out of 50 MILLION refugees across the globe. One in 50,000,000. There is a higher percentage of Australians who are murderers.
Others have even shared inflammatory posts saying that Muslims across the globe are celebrating the Paris attacks. Again, this is complete rubbish. Muslims are people too, and like everyone else, are horrified and repulsed at terrorism. Social media has been swamped with Muslims sending condolences to the people of Paris as well as expressing anger at the terrorists(4).
We can't let fear and hatred rule.
We can't let lies fuel anger against innocent people.
We can't let hate-filled groupthink drive society or politics.
It helps no-one to lose focus of the real issue. Terrorism.
By attacking all Muslims, the real perpetrators are free to radicalise others or to carry out other attacks. We must focus on the perpetrators.
It is folly to direct our anger at those who had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks. Refugees are fleeing these very people. In Afghanistan last week, seven Hazara were beheaded by ISIS in Afghanistan. This was followed by thousands of people marching through the streets of Kabul protesting against the attacks on the Hazara(5). Meanwhile, the Australian government has been returning Hazara asylum seekers to Afghanistan(6).
Blaming Islam for terrorism ignores the role that years of western intervention, led by Christians, has had on the rise of these groups. In the 1980s, the United States funded, armed, trained and radicalised Islamist fighters, out of whom grew Al Qaeda and the Taliban(7). In the 1990s, the US was warned that to remove Saddam Hussein would create a power-vacuum. Despite this, in 2003, George W. Bush removed Hussein and Al Qaeda in Iraq established itself, along with numerous other terrorist groups. As the Syrian war developed, the West (including the US, Britain and France) funded rebel groups, out of whom grew ISIS (8) and other extremist organisations. Syria is now home to over a thousand militant groups. It is extremely ignorant and naive for Christians or conservatives to blame Islam for the rise of Al Qaeda, ISIS or other extremists, when the West has been so heavily involved in their creation(9).
We don't live in a vacuum. Our actions have consequences. Islam is not the cause of terrorism. Hegemony is. Power is. Injustice is.
If we want to see an end to terrorism, end the injustice.
End the incitement.
Attacking innocent people is an incitement. Threatening to ban Islam or some of its religious practices is an incitement.
Alienating the entire Islamic community is not going to solve radicalisation or help in weeding it out. We need inclusion, not exclusion. We live in a country which doesn't force people to comply with any religion while maintaining freedom of religion. We want to keep it that way, otherwise it will create more problems than it solves.
Political parties founded on the hatred of others and the banning of their religion, are nothing more than fascist. We've seen it before: Nazi Germany did the same thing. It is only a matter of time before we see anti-Islamic groups unleash Australia's own Kristallnacht against Muslims and mosques. We're already seeing random attacks on Muslim women wearing head-coverings, on mosques and of course boycotting of businesses that are halal certified.
|Eureka St - A Fascist By Any Other Name (10)|
Unless this hatred, bigotry and fear is reigned in, we will see a level of brutality unleashed by the radical right on a scale that Australia has not seen previously.
Political parties with unconstitutional policies that incite hatred and fear of Islam should be banned. They are giving oxygen to the bigots, to the violent, to the radicals. They are not helping end terrorism, they are fuelling it.
In relation to the Paris attacks (and for that matter any terrorist attack), we need justice and love, not revenge and hate.
1. The Examiner, Michael Ross, Bryan Fischer: Japan bans mosques, Qurans and Muslim immigration (big fat lie), 30 September 2013, http://www.examiner.com/article/bryan-fischer-japan-bans-mosques-qurans-and-muslim-immigration-big-fat-lie. Accessed 15 November 2015.
2.Upworthy, Robert Couch, 'Ellen DeGeneres weighed in on the Starbucks cup controversy. And yes, she nailed it., 11 November 2015, http://www.upworthy.com/ellen-degeneres-weighed-in-on-the-starbucks-cup-controversy-and-yes-she-nailed-it. Accessed 15 November 2015
3. An Open Letter to Al-Baghdadi, http://www.lettertobaghdadi.com.
4. Time, Nash Jenkins, 'Muslims Around the World Speak Out Against Terrorist Attacks in Paris', 14 November 2015, http://time.com/4112830/muslims-paris-terror-attacks-islam-condemn. Accessed 15 November 2015.
5. Al Jazeera, Nadir Naim, What the Afghan protests are really about, 12 November 2015, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2015/11/afghan-protests-hazara-beheading-isil-151112085710057.html. Accessed 15 November 2015.
6. The Guardian, Ben Doherty, 'Australia forcibly returns second Afghan Hazara, despite fears over safety', 28 October 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2014/oct/28/australia-to-forcibly-return-second-afghan-hazara-despite-fears-over-safety. Accessed 15 November 2015.
7. John Cooley, Unholy Wars - Afghanistan, America and International Terrorism (Third Edition), Pluto Press, 2002.
8. The Guardian, Seumas Milne, 'Now the truth emerges: how the US fuelled the rise of Isis in Syria and Iraq', 4 June 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jun/03/us-isis-syria-iraq. Accessed 19 November 2015.
9. Salon, Ben Norton, 'We created Islamic extremism: Those blaming Islam for ISIS would have supported Osama bin Laden in the ’80s', 18 November 2015, http://www.salon.com/2015/11/17/we_created_islamic_extremism_those_blaming_islam_for_isis_would_have_supported_osama_bin_laden_in_the_80s. Accessed 19 November 2015.
10. Eureka Street, Jeff Sparrow, A Fascist By Any Other Name, 12 November 2015, http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=45700#.Vkg5eCArLCJ. Accessed 14 November 2015.
(Updated 20 November 2015)