Radical Islam in Australia
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Radical Islam in Australia has garnered the attention of the general Australian public periodically since the start of the 21st century. Public awareness and debate over Islamic fundamentalism in Australia following the end of the 2003 Iraq war. Australians were also affected by killings conducted by Islamic terror groups in the 2001 September 11 attacks on the United States and the 2002 and the 2005 Bali bombings. As a result, Islam and its place in Australian society has been the subject of much public debate.
A number of incidents involving Islamic fundamentalism and Australian citizens have been reported generating public debate and concern and in other instances drawing response from the Australian government.
In 2014, Khaled Sharrouf, an Australian citizen joined the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a radical Sunni Islamist group operating in Iraq and parts of Syria, proscribed by Australian authorities as a terrorist organisation. Sharrouf's activities reached wide coverage following his posting of a photo of his seven year old son holding a decapitated head of a Syrian soldier; there was strong condemnation from Australian leaders and from the public. Sharrouf's activities are thought to be war crimes. Sharrouf was reported to be receiving an Australian disability-pension while fighting in Syria.
With the Khaled Sharrouf incident being reported, the Australian public became aware of the involvement of some Australians in foreign terrorist groups such as ISIS. The Australian government estimated that at least 150 of its citizens have fought or are actively fighting alongside ISIS members. And at least two Australian Islamists have been noted for recruiting for ISIS following their publication of a promotional video encouraging Australians to join the group.
The Attorney-General Senator George Brandis has expressed concern that those fighting jihad, then returning from the Middle East, represent, "the most significant risk to Australia’s security that we have faced in many years." And the ASIO expressed concerns that Australians fighting jihad may return Australia and plan terror attacks domestically.
Groups in Australia
The Hizb ut-Tahrir is a radical Muslim group operating in Australia. The group adheres to a form of Islamic fundamentalism and has been reported calling for Australian Muslims to reject democracy and not to cooperate with Australian law enforcement officers. The group has come under scrutiny of the Australian government although no legal action has been taken against it.
A scheduled talk by a speaker associated with Hizb ut-Tahrir, Australia in Sydney was cancelled following attention it had garnered in the media. The talk was titled, "Honour Killings Are Morally Justified."
Global Islamic Youth Centre
The Global Islamic Youth Centre is an organization founded by Feiz Mohammad in Liverpool, Sydney. Local residents have opposed the group on the premise that it would seek to spread a fundamentalist form of Islam. Opposition education spokesman Andrew Stoner said the NSW government must closely watch the school and what it may teach, to ensure that it would not teach the "extremist views" and "messages of hate" to young school children.
Reactions and responses
Australian Muslim community
The Muslim community in Australia has reacted to the rise of fundamentalism amongst its ranks by establishing a number of forums and meetings to address concerns and to create awareness of extremist groups or ideology operating within the Australian Islamic community.
Some Australian Muslims have examined the rise of fundamentalism from the insider point of view. Tanveer Ahmed, an Australian-Bangladeshi psychiatrist, comedian and television personality, highlighted what he described as the underlying causes of Australian Islamic fundamentalism and identified the significance of issues relating to 'family' and to 'denial'. He has said, "Muslim youths have unique difficulties in coming to terms with their identity, especially when they have conflicting value systems at home compared with school or work". Academic Rodger Shanahan has said that it is Muslim community leaders who have the greatest responsibility for defeating the ideological component that is fueling the threat to Australian nationals.
In 2004, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission reported that manyTemplate:Vague Muslim Australians felt the Australian media was unfairly critical of and/or often vilified their community due to generalizations of terrorism and the emphasis on crime. The use of ethnic or religious labels in news reports about crime was thought to stir up racial tensions.
Effect of Middle East conflicts
The Australian government's concern over potential homegrown terrorism has generated tensions.
Some court rulings in reaction to violence encountered during racial unrest have been seen as a deterant towards the potential growth of Islamic radicalism among Australian youths.
Former Chief of Army
Australia's former Chief of Army, Peter Leahy stated in August 2014 that he believes that there is a need to prepare for a 100 year war against radical Islam to be fought on Australian soil. Muslim leaders condemned this claim.
- Global Islamic Youth Centre
- Islamic fundamentalism
- Islam in Australia
- List of terrorist organisations outlawed in Australia
- Terrorism in Australia
- Muslim Australians – E-Brief
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- Muslims' youth summit plan
- Sydney's Muslims fear revenge attacks
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