In a The Link segment on terrorism, obviously preplanned, host Stan Grant asks Professor Greg Barton, “Is it not a reasonable question to ask why someone should be out on the streets who can potentially carry out this this type of attack?”
Barton responds, “Well absolutely, it’s a very reasonable question, we’ve been here before with domestic violence and that’s the bigger problem but it has to be done in a transparent way, we have to be able to explain what we’re doing rather than revert to a simple lock them up, or you know … as if somehow giving people attention a bit longer will make the problem disappear.”
Grant then asserts that the response to terrorism “runs counter to our democracy, our freedom, our rule of law, which is precisely what the terrorists want. This is the paradox of terrorism.”
Watch the 18 minutes of grotesque apologetics.
Grant is equally extreme in a written follow-up:
According to the US National Counterterrorism Centre, up to 97 per cent of fatalities in the past five years have been Muslims.
Muslims are seven times more likely than non-Muslims to be the victims of terror.
It is so commonplace that it often barely makes the headlines of our media. It is a reality that we do not feel the pain of those lost lives as deeply as we do the lives lost in the West.
It is worth remembering that as we sift through the column inches of commentary and listen to our politicians accusing Muslims of not speaking out loudly enough against Islamic inspired terrorism.
These critics are either wilfully ignorant, deliberately misleading or malicious. They are certainly selective in their facts.
Family and friends of westerners killed or injured by Islamic terrorists should take solace from their minority status?
The vast majority of Muslims reject terrorism. After the 9/11 attacks in 2001 until 2007, Pew Research conducted extensive worldwide studies of attitudes towards terrorism.
The research polled thousands of people representing up to 90 per cent of the world’s Islamic populations and found that 93 per cent condemned the 9/11 attacks as unjustified.
Grant doesn’t mention that Pew Research also reveals:
In the United States, a 2011 survey found that 86% of Muslims say such tactics are rarely or never justified. An additional 7% say suicide bombings are sometimes justified and 1% say they are often justified.
In a few countries, a quarter or more of Muslims say these acts of violence are at least sometimes justified, including 40% in the Palestinian territories, 39% in Afghanistan, 29% in Egypt and 26% in Bangladesh.
And a worldwide Gallup Poll of Muslims shows seven percent think the 9/11 attacks “completely” justified.
Back to Grant:
Georgetown University Professor and terrorism expert, Tamara Sonn, asks hard questions about the role of Islam in terrorism in her recent book, Is Islam an Enemy of the West?
Professor Sonn makes it clear that terrorism is a crime against Islamic law. She says there is a word for it — hirabah — which describes actions of terror and violence against random victims. She says it is the very opposite of the word for peace.
Professor Sonn writes that Mulsim authorities of every variety — diverse Sunnis and Shia — have repeatedly and publicly condemned terrorism as crimes both against Islam and humanity at large.
She cites the September 12, 2001 press release by the organisation representing the 57 Muslim majority countries, the Organisation of the Islamic Co-operation, that condemned the 9/11 attacks as “criminal and brutal acts … counter to all covenants, humanitarian values and divine religions, foremost among which is Islam”.
Professor Sonn, holder of the controversial Qatari-funded Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani professorship, is perhaps slightly biased.
Accusing Muslims of not strongly condemning terrorism is at best a distortion, at worst an outright lie.
The other claim is that Islam is at the core of the wave of violent extremism, as though somehow the religion is to blame.
These arguments are often built around selective quotes from the Koran with little nuance.
Overt terrorist statements that they’re acting for Allah are something of a giveaway.
Extremist groups like IS hijack the teachings to deliver a twisted version of the religion.
As Professor Sonn points out, this is precisely why learned Islamic leaders have denounced the group as illegitimate.
What we are seeing is an extremist group using religion to pursue a political purpose.
What we’re seeing is followers acting on a literal interpretation of the word of Allah.
Political scientist Richard English places the rise of Islamic violent extremism within a global history of terrorism in his book, Does Terrorism Work?
Terrorism he says, is rooted in the idea that at certain times it is considered the most effective way of achieving necessary goals.
It is, he says, a “violent form of politics”.
This violent form has operated under many guises.
Between 1868-1871 alone, white-hooded bible-wielding terrorists killed 20,000 African Americans. They were called the Ku Klux Klan.
Between 1931 and 1948 the Irgun, a Zionist paramilitary organisation, operated in Mandate Palestine. Its campaign of insurgent violence expedited British withdrawal from the region.
Spear of the Nation, an armed wing of the African National Congress, led by Nelson Mandela pursued majority black rights in South Africa.
A group of Welsh separatists, the Free Wales Army, used violence in a failed attempt to achieve independent statehood.
From Sri Lanka to Ireland to Greece, militant groups have used ideology and violent tactics to achieve their aims.
Historical references are interesting but of no comfort to those living in the here and now.
England is not addressing the relative merits of each cause but looking at its motivation and modus operandi.
Islamic extremists fit within that tradition of violent extremism.
While they may quote the Koran, their tactics are just as likely to come from China’s Chairman Mao.
Islamist strategists have posted their playbooks online. They are fond of quoting revolutionary leaders like Mao who said “war cannot be separated even for a second from politics”.
Nothing Islamic there. But the question remains, what is the role of Islam in terrorism? Is there something peculiar and unique in this current struggle?
Tactical inspiration is of no concern to the family and friends of innocents killed or mutilated by Islamist terrorists.
Muslims are terrorism’s great victims. Muslims are locked in a battle to defeat an ideology that is eating its own.
Muslim leaders, time and again, have condemned and denounced these perverters of their faith.
Yet this week they are again being blamed. Dr Hamid and Professor Sonn make it clear that we in the West need to support and work with Islamic communities, not undermine or vilify them.
There are so many unresolved questions, particularly how Islam and Muslims find a place in western liberal democratic countries?
These are serious questions with serious consequences, not for point-scoring politicians or ignorant commentators.
Australians must confront the truth that it is suicidal to invite in outsiders who refuse to accept our superior values.