Prime Minister Tony Abbott delivered his much-awaited National Security Statement yesterday, 23 February 2015, in which he claimed that the “terrorist threat” is rising and flagged new security measures on citizenship, immigration and welfare. The overall lack ofany new substance in the statement confirmed the view that this was little more than a cheap exercise in fear politics.
Hizb ut-Tahrir Australia emphasises the following in response to the content of the Statement:
1. The statement continues the disingenuous approach of western states of seeking to alter the victim-aggressor paradigm. The aggressors – powerful states whose violence is responsible for the blood of millions – are duplicitously painted as the victims. In truth, the wrong reactions of some to neo-colonial brutality does not change the fact that that brutality is the original aggression and the fundamental problem. Preventing the action would prevent the reaction. Continuing the aggression is a recipe for perpetuating the problem, which is all we’ve seen in the last 14 years of the ‘War on Terror’.
2. In claiming that no grievances or causes are behind the violence, it is the Abbott Government who excuses and justifies terrorism. It excuses and justifies the “primitive savagery” inflicted on entire populations in Iraq and Afghanistan by its allies. It excuses and justifies the systemic violence inflicted on entire peoples by the despotic regimes it supports such as the regimes in Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
3. The emphasis on revoking citizenship, restricting immigration and denying welfare is indeed “window dressing” playing to right-wing racist opinion on these subjects. Otherwise, it is rather plain that those intent on doing the wrong thing will not stop based on considerations of citizenship or welfare. Indeed, these measures continue to build on the now well-established two-tier legal system in this country: one set of laws for Muslims and another for everyone else.
4. Tony Abbott paints the Australian establishment as good-natured, tolerant, decent, and accepting. The children of Iraq killed first by heartless sanctions and then war would beg to differ. The children of asylum seekers drowned out at sea or incarcerated in prisons like criminals would beg to differ. The children of Gaza, killed playing on the beach or lying in hospital, would beg to differ. The children killed by US drones in Pakistan and Yemen would beg to differ. Who does Tony Abbott think he is fooling?
5. If the “terrorist threat” is rising at home and abroad, as claimed, the current “counter-terrorism” approach – more laws, more surveillance and more soft-power intrusion in the Muslim community – applied consistently for 14 years now, is surely a failed approach. The Prime Minister should admit this, instead of offering more of the same.
6. The Coalition Government, with sheepish support from Labour, is directly targeting Islam and Muslims under the pretext of fighting violence. It is notable that all the examples of prosecutions, incidents and groups used in the National Security Statement were of Muslims. No mention of the planned violent acts by non-Muslims like the Pullenvale case. No mention of “hate preachers” like the Australian Defence League. No mention of “extreme ideology” like that of various Zionist groups. No mention of “foreign fighters” who travel to train and fight with the IDF.
7. Hizb ut-Tahrir rejects the charge of preaching hate or spreading discord and division. It is those in the political establishment and media who constantly demonise Islam and Muslims and partake in a cheap politics of fear that spread discord and division. War creates hatred, not speaking against it. Blind support for an unjust and brutal invasions like “Israel” which has pushed three generations of a people into slums creates hatred, not speaking against this. Dictating and imposing religious beliefs create hatred, not speaking against this.
8. The promise of “stronger prohibitions of vilification” once again exposes the hypocrisy of liberal freedoms. When the Prophet (saw) is insulted and vilified, it is justified in the name of free speech. Yet when Muslims account unjust foreign and domestic policies, even without insults, they are threatened with vilification laws.
9. The call for Islam to be reformed and Muslim leaders to do more is a continuation of the heaping of collective blame for violence on Muslims. It is a slap in the face of those Muslims who have for years already been saying, “Islam means peace” and offering condemnations and apologies for western consumption. The Muslim community has commendably refused this. She must now adopt a principled stance of placing the focus where it should: on western state violence and excesses.
10. It is not Islam that needs reformation. Islam has a thousand year history of different peoples living peacefully together under the Caliphate, with prosperity and safety for all. In sharp contrast, liberal democracies cannot point to even one example in a 300-year history where minorities were not abused and/or scapegoated for the systemic failures of the state and society – precisely what is occurring in our present case. At its essence, what we are seeing is a slow but sure move in western states towards authoritarianism – poignantly symbolised by the Prime Minister’s choice of venue and introductory celebration of the AFP, ADF and ASIO – to preempt the inevitable and growing unrest caused by systemic failures. Fear of Muslims is just a convenient scapegoat.
Hizb ut-Tahrir Australia
24 Feb 2015