We should not live in fear of an Islamic bogey-man

Barely 24 hours had passed before Prime Minister Tony Abbott used the murder of journalist James Foley by ISIS terrorists for the government’s gain.

It could happen in countries like Australia if we relax our vigilance,” Abbott said.

To him, Foley’s murder is all the more reason Australians should support the government’s proposal to grant extra powers to our intelligence services.

The government is concerned with the rising number of Muslim-Australians travelling abroad to fight jihad, and how they may return to wreck havoc on our shores. But this ignores the fact current security and intelligence measures have stopped cold any terrorist attack on Australian shores.

Comments like this are fear-mongering for the sake of political capital and stretch the reality of the threat.

In my view, Foley’s death was not based just on a perverted ideology—the terrorist had demanded millions in ransom days before his execution. It’s a horrid tragedy that young Australians, including the teenager who committed a suicide bombing, are being convinced to carry out such acts. But could less draconian means be employed to stop them leaving?

The government was not coy with who it was trying to win over when it proposed these changes and at the same time scrapped plans to amend Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. The Prime Minister’s engagement with Muslim leaders comes much too late.

To suggest that the people among us—including my friends and colleagues—somehow have the capacity for this barbarity is laughable.

In the 1950s, ‘Red Terror’ gripped the United States, with Senator Joseph McCarthy looking to garner cheap political points by stirring fear and exaggerating the threat of communism to the US.

In response to this, journalist Edward R. Murrow led the final charge against ‘McCarthyism’ and said “[McCarthy’s] primary achievement, has been in confusing the public mind as between the internal and external threat of Communism.” Simply replace Communism with Islam.

But most poignantly of all, Murrow then said, “We shall not walk in fear, one of another”.

The leaders from Australia’s Muslim community have seen this for what it is, releasing a statement saying: “There is no solid evidence to substantiate this threat.”

To be swept up in this panic is to only be enveloped in political showboating in an attempt to look strong.

By Finbar O’Mallon

Image via Flickr

Catalyst has been the student publication of RMIT University since 1944. We may be older than your parents but we’re still going strong!

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