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Terrorist incident in Melbourne

Posted by Secular on November 13, 2018

In 2014, when the Lindt Cafe siege happened, a conflagration lit up this page when we suggested it was a terrorist event – a position we still maintain based on the facts of that case. This time, we have been holding off on commenting here in order to formulate an appropriate response to the tragic and senseless attack in Melbourne, which sadly took the life of a kind, hard-working and notable member of Melbourne’s cafe culture. Given PM Scott Morrison’s words, and the media response to them, we think this matter deserves our careful consideration.

Most who objected in 2014 did so because they believed Man Monis to be mentally ill. Hassan Khalif Shire Ali was probably also mentally ill, but that does not mean this attack was not motivated by ideology and driven by radicalisation.

The mentally ill can be easily exploited by extremists and led to believe that martyrdom is a ticket to Jannah (Heaven). A certain ex-Catholic songstress with mental health issues has also recently been in the media saying supremacist things following her conversion to Islam. Many radicals have a background of alcohol or drug abuse and family breakdown, and ‘jihad’ (defined as violence committed in the name of furthering Islam or defending Mohammad or Allah’s interests) can be seen as absolution for earlier sins. Extremism can also provide a feeling of belonging for such misfits, who are flattered by the notion that their actions are justified and important to the cause of ’true’ Islam (‘true’ as they take a literalist approach to what is explicit in scripture). This is how vulnerable people are groomed for radicalisation.

However, the reason martyrdom and jihad can appeal to such people is directly due to the doctrines of Islam. The Quran praises mujahideen for fighting in ‘the service of Allah’. The reliance of the traveller dictates that a percentage of zakat, a system of alms-giving in Islam, goes toward funding mujahideen. In Chapter 9 of the Quran, which you can read for yourself at Muslims are commanded to emigrate and to fight in the name of Allah, and those who do not are called out as hypocrites.

Verses in the Quran, Sunna and Sira that continually pit believers (Muslims) against polytheists (Jews and Christians) and unbelievers (apostates and atheists), and call non-believers unclean, pigs and apes, are used to justify attacks on everyday non-Muslims as a response to either foreign policy or simply resistance to accepting/installing elements of Islamic belief such as blasphemy laws, sharia law, and prohibition of haram substances in the West. These dangerous and supremacist religious sentiments are at the heart of the problem with fundamentalism, particularly in the Wahhabi/Salafi schools, which, due to funding poured in by Saudi Arabia, have spread to mosques and madrassas worldwide.

While Scott Morrison is not wrong that Islamism (fundamentalist supremacist Islam) presents a clear religious threat to Australia and the west, the Secular Party of Australia believes that the influence of Christianity within our political system also has deleterious effects.

It is Morrison’s government that is disproportionately funding private, religious schools at the expense of state schools, and it was Morrison’s party that installed chaplains in our secular state schools. The undue influence of Christianity and the focus on ‘religious freedoms’ unfortunately paves the way for harmful elements of Islamism to be given a free pass as ‘religious tolerance’ – that old ‘we have to respect the beliefs of others,’ chestnut. The Secular Party of Australia believes we have to respect people and the human rights of individuals, but we do not have to tolerate dangerous, unproven religious notions or traditions that undermine human rights and threaten the very fabric of our secular society, particularly those that are supremacist in nature; indeed, we must not.

Under the umbrella of secularism, religion should be a private matter that can be practised at home, church, mosque, synagogue or outside of government-funded institutions, but these practices must still adhere to Australian law. ‘Religious freedom’ should protect only those beliefs that are both legal and innocuous. Mythology and tradition, and particularly religious calls to ‘morality’, should not override evidence and facts, nor influence legislation that applies to all Australians, no matter their faith or lack thereof.

Furthermore, we believe that deleterious aspects of any religion – those that infringe upon Australian law or human rights and are directly harmful to adherents or non-adherents (and these include discrimination toward LGBTI individuals or non-adherents, blasphemy, prescribing exile or death for LGBTI individuals or apostates, gender discrimination, and harmful practises such as child marriage, FGM and circumcision) – MUST be called out and must not be tolerated in Australia. Radicalisation and magical thinking in all its forms must be held up for what it is.

All communities, Muslim and non-Muslim, must condemn fundamentalism wherever it arises and must excise radicals from our midst if we are to move forward peacefully and avoid religiously motivated violence in the future.

From the Sahih International translation of the Quran, for those interested…

9: 20 ‘The ones who have believed, emigrated and striven in the cause of Allah with their wealth and their lives are greater in rank in the sight of Allah . And it is those who are the attainers [of success].’

9:29-30 ‘Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture – [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled.

9:73 ’O Prophet, fight against the disbelievers and the hypocrites and be harsh upon them. And their refuge is Hell, and wretched is the destination.’

9:123 ‘O you who have believed, fight those adjacent to you of the disbelievers and let them find in you harshness. And know that Allah is with the righteous.’


Karin Roenveld

11 November 2018


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