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.[1]

Notable incidents

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.

Khaled Sharrouf

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.[2] 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;[3] there was strong condemnation from Australian leaders[4][5] and from the public.[6] Sharrouf's activities are thought to be war crimes.[7] Sharrouf was reported to be receiving an Australian disability-pension while fighting in Syria.[8]

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.[4][5][9] 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.[10]

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."[11] And the ASIO expressed concerns that Australians fighting jihad may return Australia and plan terror attacks domestically.[12][13]

Groups in Australia

Hizb ut-Tahrir

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[14] and not to cooperate with Australian law enforcement officers.[15] The group has come under scrutiny of the Australian government although no legal action has been taken against it.[16][17]

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."[18]

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.[19] 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.[20]

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.[21][22]

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".[23] 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.[24]

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.[25]

Effect of Middle East conflicts

The Australian government's concern over potential homegrown terrorism has generated tensions.[26]

Australian courts

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.[27]

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.[28] Muslim leaders condemned this claim.[29]

See also


  1. Muslim Australians – E-Brief
  2. "Australian National Security - Islamic State". Australian Government. http://www.nationalsecurity.gov.au/Listedterroristorganisations/Pages/IslamicState.aspx. Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  3. Crane, Emily (11 August 2014). "'I'm sure you've seen much worse than that': Staggering reaction of uncle of Australian boy, SEVEN, who was pictured brandishing head of slaughtered Syrian soldier". Daily Mail. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2721230/Thats-boy-Australian-jihadists-seven-year-old-son-poses-decapitated-head-Syrian-solider.html. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Photo of boy holding decapitated Syrian soldier’s head ‘barbaric’ - Australia PM." RT.com. August 11, 2014.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Khaled Sharrouf The Australian Fighting for ISIS." Yahoo News. 2014.
  6. Maley, Paul (12 August 2014). "Jihad’s ‘child soldiers’ spark calls for action on extremists". The Australian. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/defence/jihads-child-soldiers-spark-calls-for-action-on-extremists/story-e6frg8yo-1227021107132. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 
  7. Foreign Service (25 July 2014). "'Bucket full of heads any1 in aus want some organs please dont be shy to ask': Smirking Australian terrorist poses with decapitated heads in sickening pictures posted online". Daily Mail. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2705008/Australian-jihadist-poses-decapitated-heads-sickening-pictures-posted-online.html. Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  8. Shanahan, Dennis (12 July 2014). "Terrorist Khaled Sharrouf went to jihad on welfare". The Australian. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/terrorist-khaled-sharrouf-went-to-jihad-on-welfare/story-fn59niix-1226986295927. Retrieved 19 August 2014. 
  9. Latika Bourke, Latika (19 June 2014). "Number of Australians fighting with militants in Iraq and Syria 'extraordinary', Julie Bishop says". ABC News. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-19/150-australians-fighting-with-extremists-in-iraq-and-syria/5535018. Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  10. Lloyd, Peter (21 June 2014). "Australian militants Abu Yahya ash Shami and Abu Nour al-Iraqi identified in ISIS recruitment video". ABC News. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-20/isis-fighter-identfied-as-an-australian-in-recruitment-video/5540116. Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  11. Brendan Nicholson (17 July 2014). "Returned radicalised jihadis ‘a significant risk’, says ASIO". The Australian. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/policy/returned-radicalised-jihadis-a-significant-risk-says-asio/story-e6frg8yo-1226991564685. Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  12. Marszalek, Jessica (17 July 2014). "ASIO fears Australians fighting jihad overseas may return home to plan terror attacks". The Australian. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/asio-fears-australians-fighting-jihad-overseas-may-return-home-to-plan-terror-attacks/story-e6frg6n6-1226992686683. Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  13. Irvine, David (12 August 2014). "Director-General's speech: Address to the Australian Institute of International Affairs "Evolution of terrorism - and what it means for Australia"". Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. http://asio.gov.au/Publications/Speeches-and-Statements/Speeches-and-Statements/DGs-Speech-12-August-2014.html. Retrieved 14 August 2014. 
  14. "Muslims obligated to resist democracy." The Sydney Morning Herald. 2013.
  15. "Country at war with radical Islam." The Daily Telegraph. 2014.
  16. "Tony Abbot Wants Taji Out." News.com.au. 2013.
  17. "The Enemy within." Australian News.
  18. "Festival of Dangerous Ideas cancels event by Hizb ut-Tahrir's Uthman Badar titled Honour Killings are Morally Justified". ABC News. 25 June 2014. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-25/dangerous-ideas-festival-cans-honour-killings-speech-badar/5548006. Retrieved 19 August 2014. 
  19. Joe Hildebrand (10 December 2008). "Teach the children – Sheik's vile lesson of hate". Daily Telegraph. http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/classmate/teach-the-children-sheiks-vile-lesson-of-hate/story-e6frewti-1111118269937. Retrieved 23 April 2013. 
  20. "NSW must monitor Islamic centre: Stoner". The Sydney Morning Herald. 10 December 2008. http://news.smh.com.au/national/nsw-must-monitor-islamic-centre-stoner-20081210-6vqz.html. Retrieved 23 April 2013. 
  21. Muslims' youth summit plan
  22. Sydney's Muslims fear revenge attacks
  23. Ahmed, Tanveer (14 August 2014). "Muslim communities must face up to bad apples". The Australian. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/muslim-communities-must-face-up-to-bad-apples/story-e6frg6zo-1227023500827. Retrieved 14 August 2014. 
  24. Shanahan, Rodger (7 July 2014). "Sectarian violence: The Threat to Australia". National Security College, Crawford School of Public Policy. http://nsc.anu.edu.au/documents/occasional-7-shanahan.pdf. Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  25. "National consultations on eliminating prejudice against Arab and Muslim Australians". HREOC. 16 June 2004. http://www.hreoc.gov.au/racial_discrimination/isma/report/chap2.html. Retrieved 9 July 2008. 
  26. Chambers, Geoff; Meers, Daniel (15 August 2014). "Australian Muslim leadership in chaos: Radicals reject Australia, boycott Tony Abbott". The Daily Telegraph (Australia). http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/australian-muslim-leadership-in-chaos-radicals-reject-australia-boycott-tony-abbott/story-fni0cx12-1227030032871. Retrieved 15 August 2014. 
  27. "Harsh Sentence a Warning to Australia’s Youthful Muslim Zealots." Time. May 14, 2013.
  28. Nicholson, Brendan (9 August 2014). "We’ll fight radical Islam for 100 years, says ex-army head Peter Leahy". The Australian. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/defence/well-fight-radical-islam-for-100-years-says-exarmy-head-peter-leahy/story-e6frg8yo-1227018630297. Retrieved 19 August 2014. 
  29. Wallace, Rick; Rushton, Gina (11 August 2014). "Muslims slam 100-year war call". The Australian. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/defence/muslims-slam-100year-war-call/story-e6frg8yo-1227019812479. Retrieved 19 August 2014.