COMPACT is the latest government initiative to intervene in the Muslim community under the pretext of “counter violent extremism”. It is very much on the same model as its much-discredited predecessors here and abroad. PREVENT from the UK comes to mind.
COMPACT stands for “Community, in Partnership, taking Action to safeguard Australia’s peaceful and harmonious way of life [by imposing values and violating a community, all the while continuing to destroy the peace of others abroad].” Square brackets addition ours, for that pinch of reality.
Same old, same old
In Australia, the government (federal, state), the executing department (Attorney General, Multicultural NSW) and the grand names (BRC, CVE, COMPACT) change, while the narrative, agenda and approach remain the same, with only minor adjustments of style and content.
Terrorism is caused by extremist interpretations of Islam, to which socially disoriented youth fall prey. The solution is to promote moderate interpretations and integration. That’s the (bogus) narrative. Addressing that “other extreme”, the “far right”, has been tagged along in recent times, to display balance – as if the “mainstream” represents the moderate position between two extremes.
At another level, of course, the policymakers know that this narrative is false but they need the terror bogeyman to remain afloat for it is such a convenient political tool whereby to control the masses. If they were sincere about addressing problems, more time and resources would go to real problems like domestic violence and alcohol/drug abuse.
We know all this. The Muslim community knows all this. If there were doubters some years ago, all doubts have long dissipated. The farce that is CVE is apparent and the ill-intent of the state is apparent. The real oppression and harm inflicted on members of the community is apparent.
Yet some community organisations continue to take part in such programs. Why?
Arguments for Muslim participation
Variants of two basic arguments are used to justify such participation:
1. If we don’t take the funding, other Muslim organisations closely aligned with government or non-Muslim organisations will and they’ll do a worse job. Better we take it so at least we have some control of what’s happening in our community.
2. We know the government agenda is bad. We take the money (which is our right as taxpayers) and use it how we deem appropriate, not in the way intended by government. This way we accrue the benefit while not taking part in the worse parts of CVE.
The bigger picture
Neither of these arguments holds much water.
As to the first, who are these other organisations that would take the money and what would they do? Non-Muslims organisations have no support in the community or access to its youth. The same applies to Muslim organisations that have no representation on the ground. What could they possibly do? Any programs run by them would automatically fail. In fact, if no Muslim organisations take part, the overall program fails. It fails politically before it fails in execution.
As to the second, firstly this sort of deceptive appraoch is not the way of our noble Prophet (saw) and hence should not be our way. Secondly, it is an expression of extreme naivety. It assumes that an organisation can play the government, while in truth it is the one being played. We need to be clear about who has the upper hand in such a political relationship. If the government body enforces compliance (through all those evaluations and reviews), it achieves what it wants, in part or in whole. And if it does not, it is because it does not seek to. Many of these programs are more for political posturing than achieving results on the grounds (and that is part of the problem!). Those involved in the past know this better than others. This does mean, however, that there is room for some beneficial projects to be run and they run. It would be wrong to deny that. The question, of course, is at what cost?
But there’s more…
What both these arguments suffer from in common is that any and all benefits are taken as legitimating the participation, with no consider of the harms. The harms of participation are many:
– You legitimate the oppressive and flawed policy.
– You legitimate the narrative on which it rests.
– You afford the policy success, for without Muslim participation it would fail.
– You are no longer able to account the oppressive policy or any other oppression of the government for the continuation of government patronage depends on an amicable relationship. The proof, here, is in the pudding of the last decade.
You, thus, end in a vicious cycle where the very participation you justify on grounds that “it’ll happen anyway; might as well be us” is what contributes to the perpetuation of the programs.
Time to reconsider
Any one of above-mentioned harms by itself should be sufficient for a person of taqwa to detest. So what of all of them together!
We hope those who have decided to participate, whose sincere intent and diligent work for community is beyond reproach, will reconsider. The issue has, it should be emphasised, never been one of intention but of approach and political astuteness. Our argument is not that by being part of a government program that targets Muslims, you do the same. It is that you facilitate the same, good intention notwithstanding.
As for the majority of the community, particularly the youth and future leaders, who see these government policies and programs for what they are, we must continue to take a firm and principled stance against them.
Allah guide us all to what is closer to the Prophetic Sunnah, best for the community and most pleasing to Him, the Exalted.
Uthman Badar is the media representative of Hizb ut-Tahrir Australia
The following are initiatives (being or to be rolled out) by community organisations as part of, and funded by, government CVE strategy, under the NSW government’s COMPACT program – based on the information released by Multicultural NSW. The community deserves to know what is being implemented in her midst as part of government programs, with government CVE funding.
Moving towards middle ground: Informing, engaging and evolving perspectives on violent extremism (UMWA)
The Ihya-2020 Youth Challenge (Coexistence Inc.)
“5 b4 5” Youth Leadership Program (Auburn Gallipoli Mosque)
IQRA: Educating Young Australian Muslims (LMA & ICNSW)