Intro: Multinational summit held in Sydney on anti-terrorism measures just a week before the commencement of the holy month on June 18.
The holy month of Ramadan this year has been very eventful and tumultuous in Australia. It was heralded with a multinational summit held in Sydney on anti-terrorism measures just a week before the commencement of the holy month on June 18. Heads and representatives from as many as 27 countries and media participated in the summit. The Muslim countries, Malaysia and Indonesia participated in the summit as these two perceive threat of Islamic State (IS). While hundreds of Jihadis from Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, China have made their way to IS, it is reported that since March 2015 more than 40 Indonesians have been killed fighting for IS. Media people were invited for the very reason that, IS has been very offensively conducting its vicious media campaign and using various media forums as very effective propaganda tools. It has resulted in self indoctrination of many Muslim youth motivating them to join the IS in Syria. During the summit Prime Minister Tony Abbott focussed on the “global ambitions” of IS and need to do more for tackling the social media recruitment drive. Australian Attorney-General George Brandis made announcement of introducing yet another round of counter-terrorism legislation after the Australian Federal Police asked for refinement of the control order regime pertaining to the operations of raids in Melbourne and Sydney. These two major cities count for more than three-fourth of the Muslim population in Australia.
The Sydney summit agreed to establish a regional network of groups that can share ideas about how to encounter extremist propaganda. However there is criticism that the summit appeared to be focussed more on the media measures and that the Muslim community was less represented. The summit was followed by warning to Australian Jihadis from the Australian Syrian Association (ASA). The newly appointed head Belmore GP Jamal Riffi with Labanese background issued a statement that “Syrians do not need anyone to fight for them. They are more capable of defeating the Syrian regime and its backers”. It is because up to 60 per cent of IS fighters from Australia come with the Lebanese background. He further explained that because Syria forcefully occupied Lebanon 2005, “We taught our children to hate detectors and in particular Assad regime. And Daesh (IS) has been benefited from what we have instilled in our kids. They have used it in their recruitment drive.” The peer networks are known to be active among both Lebanese and Afghan communities for the IS recruitment drive.
Entertaining Jihadi family
Two Jihadi criminals from Australia, Khaled Sharrouf alias Abu Zarqawi al Australi and Mohamed Elomar alias Abu Hafs al Australi were reported to be killed in an air attack in the first week of Ramadam. Khaled had earlier slain many Syrian captives. He gave head of one of his victims in his seven year old son’s hand and their picture was widely circulated in media. This act of involving a child in heinous act led to worldwide condemnation. While the father-in-law of Khaled, Peter Nettlton was ecstatic on hearing the news of death, his wife was in grief for her daughter and five grand kids. Their daughter Trata Nettleton, who converted to Islam and married Khaled at the young age of 17 years and bore him 5 kids, had opted to join him in IS taking along her five kids. Although many Australians heaved sigh of relief, but the society here was divided on the issue of allowing the kids to return back to Australia. While PM Tony Abbott expressed reservations regarding acceptance of the kids in the Australian society for difficulties they might face right at school entrance, many were of the opinions to show genuine concern for the kids and to accept them back and also try to heal their mindset with psychological treatment. Many were sympathetic to the feeling of Mrs. Nettleton. Father of Mohamed Elomar, a self made millionaire expressed defiance and squarely blamed the firebrand cleric Sheik Feiz Mohamed who ran Global Islamic Youth Centre. Attributing radicalisation of his son to the time he spent at the Islamic youth centre, he said, “Sheiks like Feiz ruin people.”
In the meanwhile Australian Government constituted a special cell of Australian Crime Commission (ACC) headed by Cris Dowson. ACC is playing increasingly important role on both domestic terrorism and tracking overseas Australians fighting for IS. It has to its credit exposing plot to kill police officers and has exposed the links of Australian underworld with terrorist financing. As it came out, these criminals were spending money collected for Jihad in gambling. It should be an eye opener for those who pay for Jihad. Some Australian newspapers have came out with the list and pictures of Jihadis from Australia, a few of whom were killed and others still fighting for IS. A terrorist suspect Omarjan Azari of the Afghan origin is under detention. He was formally charged with plans to behead five people a month and fund raising for terrorist organisations in Syria. He was produced in court on July 8. It is a case of home grown terrorism. Another case of a home grown Jihadi, an Australia born paediatrician Dr. Tareq Kamleh, made rounds in Australian media. He joined IS and in a video statement aired on June 21, he appealed trained medical professionals to join IS and that those who joined IS should not worry care if their citizenship was revoked.
A bill of stripping Jihadi Australians with dual citizenship of their Australian citizenship was tabled in the Australian Parliament on June 24. Citizenship act 1948 was amended so that the dual nationals who take up arms with terror groups like IS will be automatically stripped of their citizenship. It will be discussed in the Joint Parliamentary Committee. Whether the stripping of citizenship will be applicable to the Australians citizens before passing of the bill is to be decided. It will apply to both people onshore and off shore
Domestic violence in Muslim families
The report of the Royal Commission into family violence has revealed dangerous aspect of the Muslim male mindset. The Director of Australian Muslim Women’s Centre for Human Rights Joumanah El Matrah says that the Muslim men cite their faith in efforts to excuse their abusive behaviour, relying on their religion solely to avoid blame. They use religion to justify family violence. There are clear references in the text of Holy Quran where wife beating is allowed. In Hadis texts too there are references where position of a woman is put at lower level. (The Australian Dt July 1, 2015). The Education Minister, Christopher Pyne has criticised soft approach of some states towards containing Islamic radicalisation in schools and implementing the de-radicalisation programs.
New trend sets in
As such the Muslim community has come under cloud in this country. It is difficult to see whether people with sane mind set and who sincerely consider themselves as Australian law abiding citizens are more influential or the minority Muslim population with inbuilt Kafirophobia retain power over the community. However an incident from an Islamic school is an indicator of winds of change. A 14 year old student Hassan Mustafa from the Islamic college of South Australia was taken to barber and his head was forcibly shaved without parental permission, because his hairstyle was not liked by the college’s welfare officer Sheik Hassen Gabress. Sheikh threatened Mustafa with expulsion from the school and when Mustafa resisted in the salon, Sheik screamed at him. All this was not acceptable, not only to his mother Kalthoom Issa but also to many other parents. They demonstrated on July 2 before the school with taped mouth, in reverence for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Many parents held silent protest with placards outside the school gates.
In this context it is worth noting the diametrically opposite view expressed by two ministers in Australian Government. While communications minister Turnbull played down the threat to the Australian State from the terrorism and internal security, the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Ms Julie Bishop made contrary statement (The Australian, July 8) that based on the briefing she has been receiving from the State Secret Agencies, the threats were real and that Australia faced both the internal and external terrorist threats. Well Islam has arrived in this country with all its wherewithal.
Dr Pramod Pathak(The writer is a Vedic scholar and freelancer)