Melbourne Xmas Terror Plot: Enduring Anomaly

Earlier today, a multi-agency policing operation spearheaded by Victoria Police and supported by the AFP and ASIO, successfully averted a terrorist attack against targets in Melbourne’s CBD. Four of the five would-be attackers, it seems, are young members of the Lebanese-Australian community. They were born here, raised here and now they have been charged with preparing to detonate improvised explosive devices in a major Australian city.

This plot comes at the end of an extremely violent year which has seen salafi-jihadism predominating as the main driver of terrorism worldwide. At the same time, Australia’s Lebanese migrant community is also in the spotlight, often as a favourite case study for politicians to publicly examine the outcomes of immigration from the Middle East. Multi-culturalism is being challenged by very loud voices. Nativism is on the rise. Here the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton’s controversial comments in Parliament last month, which rightfully drew the ire of the Lebanese-Australian community, are particularly telling. Fear is rife in everyone’s analyses of the problem.

But while ISIS-inspired terrorist plots are on the rise in Australia, as I’ve written previously, the nativist movement which is sweeping the West – exemplified by Trump, Brexit, Le Pen and One Nation – is a phenomenon which is tied to “fear of small numbers” – an inflated perception of actual risk.

At first glance, Dutton’s comment that “of the last 33 people who have been charged with terrorist-related offences in this country, 22 of those people are from second and third generation Lebanese-Muslim background” seems pretty alarming. In many ways it is pretty alarming. As a court statistic based in fact it shows that terrorism in Australia is fast becoming a disproportionately ethnic problem. There is a problem amongst Lebanese-Australian youth which police and community groups need to redress. Even still, we need not let the Minister’s alarmism colour our perceptions of the Lebanese community as a whole. If there are in fact 22 young terrorists out of a community of 203,139 (the number of Australians who claimed Lebanese ancestry in the 2011 Census) a better way to truly gauge the scale of the problem comes from appreciating the reality that only 0.0108% of Lebanese-Australians have demonstrable ties to terror***. If we restrict the sample size to the 37% of Lebanese-Australians who identify as Muslim, that still only leaves us with a percentage of 0.029% who have been charged with terrorist offences.

Of course, singling out entire groups of people because of the actions of a few is not novel in Australian political life. In 1915, when a pair of Afghan cameleers carried out Australia’s first mass atrocity event at Broken Hill, an angry mob descended on an Afghan camp seeking revenge. Later that evening, they burned down the local German club, blaming enemy aliens for agitating the assailants. 90 years later, the rioters at Cronulla were channeling a similar kind of rage. Both responses were executed in a fearful, post-fact environment – one which overlooked the fact that Afghan camel-drivers formed the backbone of the trans-continental transportation industry in early Australia or, in the case of Sydney in 2005, that Lebanese-Australians were major contributors to local economic growth in manufacturing and small business.

That said then, when Minister Dutton talks about “calling out” (that is, by discriminating against) the Lebanese-Australian community for its links to terrorism, he is not being “honest” at all. But this is frequently the problem with those who proudly wear the badge of “political incorrectness”. More often than not, they are simply incorrect.

As far as policy is concerned, a multi-generational, intra-communal crisis like the one currently effecting the Lebanese-Australian community isn’t something that governments can tempest-harden against with ham-fisted responses. The eventuality that a Lebanese refugee’s grandson would one day become involved with a terrorist group (ISIS) that didn’t even exist in the 70s is  what military planners would call a “second or third order effect”. These effects are often incredibly difficult to predict. In the above case, it was impossible to predict.

In the case of today’s terror plot, a moratorium on Muslim immigration to Australia isn’t going to end the hatred and alienation currently being felt and expressed by a vulnerable demographic of second-generation and third-generation Muslim-Australians. On the contrary, it will make the problem worse. Instead of “throwing out the poisoned Skittle bowl” as Donald Trump’s son crassly suggested during his father’s campaign, our counter-terrorism efforts should focus on selectively removing the poisoned Skittles from the bowl (that is, by adequately resourcing and supporting our police and intelligence agencies) and working with community groups to neutralise the poison entirely.

Beyond this, bandying about alarmist crime statistics during Parliamentary Question Time is only going to make the problem worse. As former Liberal leader and now-ANU professor John Hewson wrote of Minister Dutton’s comments in Parliament: “while the Government has recognised the desperate need to rely on the cooperation of the Islamic communities to out potential terrorists as an essential element of its national security and anti-terrorism strategy, Dutton has sought to name and shame a particular segment of that community: Lebanese-Muslims”.

Better understanding the causes of social alienation is the key to solving the problem – not closing the gates on the alienated entirely. In the case of Mullah Abdullah, one of the perpetrators of the Broken Hill attacks in 1915, his alienation began on “the day some larrikin threw stones at me” for wearing his turban.

The bottom line, therefore, is this. Responding to domestic terror plots by engaging in activities (legislative, on the street or otherwise) which go against our fundamental national values is not the solution. Permanently closing our borders to innocent people fleeing terrorism will not prevent Australian-born citizens from committing acts of terror in the towns they grew up in. Similarly, oppressing Australian Muslims on the street will not end the scourge of salafi-jihadism.  By choosing to wage a war against Christmas, the terrorists are doing this themselves. Eventually, support for their barbaric violence will dwindle. In the long run, no one likes a Grinch.

How-the-grinch-stole-christmas.jpg

*** Edit & author’s note: A commenter below rightly pointed out that the 2011 Census statistic is too broad for use here as it doesn’t differentiate between religious background (obviously Lebanese-Muslims are the central focus here) or between various waves of migration. There is relevant chat in there so I added the math for Lebanese-Muslims too. Of course, if it is true that the Census stat doesn’t tell us much about a topical demographic than Dutton’s statistic doesn’t really tell us much about the same demographic as a whole either. At least, no more than a statement like “52% of homicide in the US is committed by African-Americans whereas less than 2% of American Presidents have been African-American” tells us anything about where African-American community interests and values lie as a whole. This of course is the problem with quantitative data (and the reason I studied anthropology which relies more heavily on the qualitative kind) – stats can be twisted to give gross misrepresentations of the scale of the problem. There is a good post about the neutrality of crime statistics here.

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25 thoughts on “Melbourne Xmas Terror Plot: Enduring Anomaly

  1. The numbers & percentages fails to differentiate between Lebanese Muslims, and Maronites and Orthodox Figures for Muslims are much lower. It also fails to differentiate between periods when various groups arrived. e.g. Lebanese Concession group already had strong antipathy to Christians. Further the advent of cheap air travel and the Internet allows for ongoing international “ghettoes” Proportion of Lebanese Muslims in armed forces and police is an indicator of social integration

    • A valid point but even if we restrict the sample to only Lebanese Muslims (37% according to ABS stats), which I have now added as a second statistic in the piece, that leaves us with a sample size of around 75,000. Which means those with terrorism charges number around 0.029% of Lebanese-Muslims. Tiny. Of course, that’s still higher than we’d like it and it’s proportionally high – that is, it illustrates an ethnic component (as I said). But terrorism in the West today is overwhelmingly driven by salafi-jihadism and since the primary group of Muslims in Australia come from a Lebanese background it’s neither surprising nor alarming that 66% of them would too.
      There’s no doubt that there is a problem in the community that needs redress. But my point with this whole discussion is that statistics like “22 out of 33 terrorists in Australia are Lebanese-Muslim” tells us next to nothing about who Lebanese-Muslims are as a whole community. Integration into the armed forces is only one indicator of social integration (and not a particularly good one at that) but you’re right – there is a major problem with the alienation of young second- and third-generation Lebanese-Australian Muslims here. I used the word “crisis”. Which is the whole raison d’être of the article.
      A bit of perspective, however, is important here – one which zooms out on the whole picture instead of adjusting the microscope to look at only headline-grabbing events… events whose sole purpose is to generate attention and create social unrest. It should perhaps go without saying that by only examining events at the extremities, one walks away with an extreme view of the problem.

  2. You, sir, are a complete fool. How many Buddhists do we have in this country? And how many terrorists attacks have we had from them? Despite the racism that was shown to them, in rather large numbers? What other demographic, in the history of this country, required $47 million dollars, from the NSW budget in 2015, alone to be allocated to in order to ‘combat extremism in schools’? None. Not one. So when you consider those statistics, the number of Muslims that have committed acts of terror, are indeed disproportionate. And NO, it’s not the government, the police, the community, the country and the rest of the world who’s to blame here. No other immigrant group has these problems. Get a grip. This country is truly multicultural, however not one race or religion of people has done what the Muslims have been doing, in their very short history in this country. And the fact that an Afghan committed an atrocity, in 1915, because someone threw a stone at him, should have been a warning of the type of violence these people are prepared to commit, in retaliation to something relatively small in comparison. Your article is nothing short of treason, and hate speech against the Australian government, and it’s people, who have valued and treasured this country. You want to spout hatred toward us, because your your precious Muslims are the victims, since they’re so wonderful? Because you love them so much, then go live among them. Stop spouting your liberal leftist propaganda, against the very taxpayers who pay for your wages, at the sheltered workshop that is the ABC, when the entire world is on terror alert. Wake up. If you have kids, then you’re also incredibly irresponsible. I cannot believe you even have gall to publish this. You lot are the reason these people have free license to do what they want. And Australians are sick of all of you. Now have the guts to publish THIS. Since you have the guts to disparage Australia with such contempt. Otherwise, like all the other members of your snowflake generation, you’re a coward as well.

    • Oh dear. A few good facts in there but you lost me in the end with the ad hominem so I’ll let your post speak for itself. I don’t work for the ABC and I’ve never accepted money from them. The only money from the taxpayer I’ve received is through six years of military service in infantry roles. Merry Christmas!

  3. I believe a more effective question that Dutton may have posed would have been “Who is patient Zero?”. Treating this as an infectious disease is more in line with proper intelligence gathering (perhaps too much to expect from a politician). I’d be curious to know the relationships between those arrested for the Christmas Plot (if I can call it that).
    BTW, ignoring ad hominem arguments is my knee jerk reaction too, but seeing as your post touches on the concept of memetic alienation… and to paraphrase Hans Eysenck, ‘even a moron can have a good idea from time to time… you just have to be willing to hear it’.

    • A good and interesting point. The problem isn’t so much with the facts themselves (22/33 is a self-evident fact) but with the way the facts are presented. I forgive the guy though – responding to questions on the fly is hard. Of course, an apology or a qualification is pretty hard to ask for these days. Spot on with the ad hominem as well. One can’t ignore Eysenck’s “morons”. That would be tantamount to dismissing/ignoring a good chunk of the social field in which this whole issue is being played out.

  4. The article, like so many, fails to address the heart of the problem. It is NOT ethnicity at the heart of it…….it is the Islamic religion. Zero tolerance for others, repressive policies towards thise who are enslaved by it and a fanatical intolerance for all that is not Islamic. Whilst church leaders bury their heads in the sand and speak in respectful tones of a vicious and vindictive “religion” and it’s founder they will no doubt in time reap the harvest of their wilfull ignorance.

    • You make some relevant points about the connection between religion and violence but this article is about local issues facing the Lebanese-Australian community rather than the differing interpretations of Islamic exegesis. Perhaps you would be interested in reading my commentary on the varying interpretations of jihad and its appearance in the Quran. You can find the article here: https://caugustelliott.wordpress.com/2016/03/21/anti-anti-islam/

      As an addendum, it’s important to note that the Australian Islamic Council has already responded to yesterday’s arrests. They are “sick and tired” of the actions of some young members of their community apparently. In their view I suppose, the detonation of bombs in public places is not in the Qur’an. Since gunpowder wasn’t around during the time of Mohammed they are probably right about that. Thanks for your note. Merry Christmas.

  5. I should also add that the appalling ignorance of the majority of Australian citizens concerning the Christian faith leaves them vulnerable towards the simplistic slogans of Islam. A vengeful god and his armies of hate are what we face. Any society which does not cherish it’s own heritage is suicidal, except in tnis case others will come and take from us our souls. Very sad indeed……..a simple comparison of Jesus and Mahomed and their respective teachings shows the vast gulf of difference…….

  6. I also served in the Army (10 years) so I am approaching this with a high level of patriotism. Sorry, don’t “buy” this article. You also lost me with the flippant ending, which was not in keeping with its tone (if that’s to be believed, is about concern for our society). Simply saying it will go away is nonsense. The problem is these people have different values to what we predominantly have in Australia. They don’t integrate, preferring to strut a “pseudo-macho, lack of respect for society” attitude. The cultural norms of the Middle East are so far removed from the West, it is ridiculous the assume these people will ever fully adapt.

    • You make a valid point. Multiculturalism is often messy and true assimilation can be a long and arduous road – especially when your ancestors came from a completely alien country. But it is and can be successful. The current Governor-General of New South Wales is Lebanese. So is a recent former Premier of Victoria.
      I think you misinterpreted my last point. I wasn’t saying “it will simply go away”.
      On the contrary, I said that in order to destroy salafi-jihadism, we need to adequately resource our security forces and continue funding efforts to de-radicalise alienated youth in the community.
      The point about barbaric violence losing its appeal in the long run is proven by empirical studies which show that the indiscriminate application of violence (in this case, terrorism) weakens the viability of a group’s political aims in the long run. See, for example, the data presented by Stathis Kalyvas in “The Logic of Violence in Civil War”.
      But even if you are correct and multiculturalism cannot work and young Australian-Lebanese-Muslims will never be able to truly integrate what do you propose as a solution? Rounding up all the members of an ethnic group (many of whom have never even been to Lebanon in their lives) and shipping them “back to where they came from” because of the actions of 0.029% of them? That doesn’t sound like a policy proposal that’s very patriotic to me.

      • Sorry, a correction. I just remembered that Dame Marie Bashir, the second-longest serving Governor General of NSW was succeeded by Gen David Hurley in 2014.

  7. Needless to say, Islamic terrorism in Australia has nothing to do with the peaceful teachings of Islam…
    ‘Muhammad said, “I was made victorious with terror” ‘
    Ishaq 326
    ‘The Prophet said, “I have been given victory with terror” ‘
    Sahih Bukhari 9:87:127
    ‘Allah’s Messenger said, “I have been made victorious with terror” ‘
    Sahih Bukhari 4:52:220
    “If you come upon them, deal so forcibly as to terrify those who would follow, that they may be warned. Make a severe example of them by terrorizing Allah’s enemies.”
    Ishaq 326
    “I will instil terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them”
    Quran 8:12
    “Inflict such a defeat as would terrorize them, so that they would learn a lesson and be warned.”
    Quran 8:57
    “Ask Allah for victory and do not retreat, withdrawing from His religion. We will terrorize those who disbelieve.”
    Ishaq 395
    “It is not fitting for any prophet to have prisoners until he has made a great slaughter in the land.”
    Quran 8:67
    “The punishment of those who strive to make corruption (unbelief) in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides”
    Quran 5:33
    “slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. ”
    Quran 9:5
    “strive hard against the unbelievers and the hypocrites and be unyielding to them.”
    Quran 9:73
    “cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers.”
    Quran 3:151
    “Therefore listen not to the Unbelievers, but strive against them with the utmost strenuousness…”
    Quran 25:52
    “O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness.”
    Quran 9:123
    “As to those who reject faith, I will punish them with terrible agony in this world.”
    Quran 3:56
    “Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. And those with him are hard (ruthless) against the disbelievers and merciful among themselves”
    Quran 48:29
    “As for those who disbelieve, we will fight them forever in the Cause of Allah. Killing them is a small matter to us.”
    Tabari IX:69
    “And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution [of Muslims] is worse than slaughter [of non-believers]…
    Quran 2:191-193
    “when you meet in battle those who disbelieve, then smite the necks”
    Quran 47:4
    “hindering people from the way of Allah and unbelief in Him… is far more grievous than slaughter”
    Quran 2:217
    “A believer should not be killed in retaliation for the murder of a disbeliever”
    Sunan Ibn Majah 3:21:2660
    “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission and feel themselves subdued.”
    Quran 9:29
    “He it is Who hath sent His messenger with the guidance and the religion of Truth, that He may make it conqueror of all religion however much idolaters may be averse.”
    Quran 61:9
    “He it is Who sent His Messenger with the guidance and the true religion that He may make it prevail over all the religions; and Allah is enough for a witness.”
    Quran 48:28
    “He it is Who hath sent His messenger with the guidance and the Religion of Truth, that He may cause it to prevail over all religion, however much the idolaters may be averse.”
    Quran 9:33
    “And fight with them until there is no more fitna (disorder, unbelief) and religion should be only for Allah.”
    Quran 8:39
    Allah’s Apostle said, “I have been ordered to fight the people till they say: ‘None has the right to be worshipped but Allah.’
    Sahih Bukhari 1:8:387
    ‘The Messenger of Allah said: “I have been commanded to fight against people till they testify that there is no god but Allah” ‘
    Sahih Muslim 1:30, 1:33
    “The Jews …and the Christians… may Allah destroy them!”
    Quran 9:30
    ‘The Prophet said: “Whoever dies without having fought or having thought of fighting, he dies on one of the branches of hypocrisy.” ‘
    Sunan An-Nasa’i 3099
    “Then fight in the cause of Allah”
    Quran 2:244
    “Fighting is prescribed for you”
    Quran 2:216
    “Those who believe fight in the cause of Allah…”
    Quran 4:76
    “Fight them, Allah will punish them by your hands and bring them to disgrace… ”
    Quran 9:14
    ‘The Prophet said, “By Him in Whose Hands my soul is! I would love to be martyred in Allah’s Cause and then come back to life and then get martyred, and then come back to life again and then get martyred and then come back to life again and then get martyred.” ‘
    Sahih Bukhari 4:52:54,
    Sahih Bukhari 4:52:216
    ‘And those who believe say: “If only a surah were revealed!” But when a decisive surah is revealed and war is mentioned therein, thou seest those in whose hearts is a disease looking at thee with the look of men fainting unto death. Therefor woe unto them! ‘
    Quran 47:20
    “The battle cry of the Companions of the Messenger of Allah that night was: ‘Kill! Kill! Kill’ ”
    Tabari VIII:141
    ‘The Prophet said, “Nobody who dies and finds good from Allah (in the Hereafter) would wish to come back to this world, even if he were given the whole world and whatever is in it, except the martyr who, on seeing the superiority of martyrdom, would like to come back to the world and get killed again (in Allah’s cause).” ‘
    Sahih Bukhari 4:52:53
    ‘The Prophet said, “A single endeavour (of fighting) in Allah’s cause in the afternoon or in the forenoon is better than all the world and whatever is in it.” ‘
    Sahih Bukhari 4:52:50
    ‘The Messenger of Allah said: “Whoever meets Allah with no mark on him (as a result of fighting) in His cause, he will meet Him with a deficiency.” ‘
    Sunan Ibn Majah 2763
    ‘Allah’s Apostle said, “Allah welcomes two men with a smile; one of whom kills the other and both of them enter Paradise. One fights in Allah’s Cause and gets killed. Later on Allah forgives the ‘killer who also get martyred (In Allah’s Cause).” ‘
    Sahih Bukhari 4:52:80i
    ‘A man came to Allah’s Messenger and said, “Guide me to such a deed as equals Jihad (in reward).”
    He replied, “I do not find such a deed.” ‘
    Sahih Bukhari 4:52:44
    “Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) and receive no hurt, and those who strive and fight in the cause of Allah with their goods and their persons. Allah hath granted a grade higher to those who strive and fight with their goods and persons than to those who sit (at home). Unto all (in Faith) Hath Allah promised good: But those who strive and fight Hath He distinguished above those who sit (at home) by a special reward”
    Quran 4:95
    “O Prophet, exhort the believers to fight… ”
    Quran 8:65
    “Verily Allah hath bought of the believers their lives and their riches for the price that theirs shall be the Garden: they fight in the way of Allah and slay and are slain: a promise due thereon in the Taurat, in the Injil – and the Quran-and who is more faithful unto his covenant than Allah? Rejoice wherefore in your bargain which ye have made. And that it is the mighty achievement.”
    Quran 9:111
    O believers, fight the unbelievers who are near to you; and let them find in you a harshness; and know that Allah is with the godfearing
    Quran 9:123
    “hindering people from the way of Allah and unbelief in Him… is far more grievous than slaughter”
    Quran 2:217
    “So be not weak and ask not for peace (from the enemies of Islam), while you are having the upper hand. Allah is with you, and He will never decrease the reward of your good deeds.”
    Quran 47:35
    “Let those fight in the way of Allah who sell the life of this world for the other. Whoso fighteth in the way of Allah, be he slain or be he victorious, on him We shall bestow a vast reward.”
    Quran 4:74

    • That is a comprehensive collection of quotes but some of it is inaccurate and or makes use of a contentious translation (without mentioning the extra words you’ve added in brackets to derive meaning that isn’t there).
      For example you cite Quran 8:57 as reading: “Inflict such a defeat as would terrorize them, so that they would learn a lesson and be warned.” If we take a word-for-word translation of the original Arabic text (found here: https://quran.com/8:57) it translates as: “so if you come to dominate over them in war disperse them following which they will take heed”.
      Elsewhere, the original Arabic text for Quran 5:33 (found here: https://quran.com/5/33) which you have cited as reading “The punishment of those who strive to make corruption (unbelief)…” in actual fact reads: “the punishment for THOSE WHO MAKE WAR against Allah and his Messenger or those who spread corruption…” The Arabic word “fesadu” means “corruption” only and has a different meaning to “kufir” (unbelief). So the meaning of the passage is explicitly defensive (fighting back) and possibly has more to do with political corruption than religious unbelief.
      And that’s just two I picked out without even scrolling down. So check your sources more thoroughly (and I’ll keep reading). Or learn Arabic. Either-or.
      In principle though, I agree that there is violence throughout the Qur’an – perhaps even more so than other religious texts. As mentioned in a previous comment though it’s not the main topic of this particular article but is something I’ve written about elsewhere. You might find this post informative: https://caugustelliott.wordpress.com/2016/03/21/anti-anti-islam/
      Merry Christmas

  8. Just an observation – but the conversation here, understandably in the context of terrorism, seems to miss something more. The Australian Lebanese community, whatever confessional aspect (Christian, Sunni, Shiite) seems unfortunately over-represented in anti-social reportage, whether it be alleged terrorist activity, organised crime, corruption, or simply petty street violence.

    Admittedly this is just a perception, but given the number of other relatively cohesive “ethnic” groups that have also arrived as refugees, or poor immigrants, and suffered various problems of integration (language issues, poverty, racism and the like) why does it appear (I stress “appear”) that the Lebanese community, into the third and fourth generation, seems to have such a high proportion of issues?

    • This is a reasonable question to ask. Just as you say though, it might be that your perception is, in fact, skewed by over-representation in media reportage. It pays to be cogent of the role which media plays in shaping our perceptions of different human social groups particularly when further examination of the statistical data demonstrates that our fears can be misplaced.
      For example, see the recent controversy with the polygamist Muslim man receiving Centrelink benefits for his multiple spouses. A cursory glance at this story might lead one to think that 1.) polygamy is a normative practice in the Australian Islamic community and 2.) Centrelink scams are widespread (and perhaps even unique) to this community. Of course, a closer examination of the data would reveal that there are bigger welfare rorts in this country and that polygamy is not the norm in the Australian-Lebanese community… which calls into question the story’s actual relevance to the public. Of course, the media tends to quantify a story’s newsworthiness by its uniqueness and this was a very unique story indeed (statistically anyway).
      This isn’t to say of course that media shouldn’t report these kinds of stories. Sometimes outrage over these things sets a precedent for better behaviour in the future.
      Neither is this to say that there isn’t a problem facing the Lebanese community. On the contrary, I acknowledged that there does seem to be a problem, multiple times in the article. If we look at Dutton’s statistic for example, we can see over-representation of a specific ethnic/religious group in terrorism.
      The reason for this over-representation remains to be seen. More research needs to be done and I, personally, haven’t conducted any concerted ethnographic research with Australian Muslims inside their own communities (most of my work is directed at overseas Muslim communities). All I can say for sure is that these kids’ families have been Muslim for a long time and have been a part of the community for a long time so it can’t be that they are somehow intrinsically incompatible with our society as a cultural group. Plenty of refugee groups struggle to adapt at first (and even down the road) – see the Asian crime wave that occurred amongst second-generation Vietnamese refugees after the war.

  9. What do you mean by using the expression ‘Australia’s first mass atrocity’ in relation to the Broken Hill events? Surely you would acknowledge the numerous instances of earlier colonial killings of groups of Aboriginal people as atrocities?

    • I was referring to post-Federation Australia. The one undergoing a concurrent “Baptism of Fire” on the other side of the world.

  10. In your response to Harbi on December 24, 2016 at 4:48 am you wrote: “That is a comprehensive collection of quotes but some of it is inaccurate and or makes use of a contentious translation”.

    In this reply you are attempting to excuse the inexcusable.

    Most of the quotes can, and are, used by the weak minded or evil believers of Islam as a reason to terrorise and murder. That is why Islam and terrorism are fused together, that is why a person who believes in Islam can “self radicalize” generations after his family have arrived in a society offering shelter.

    “Self radicalization” is a left wing euphemism for reading an Islamic religious text and believing in what it says. Islamic groups self segregate here as they have in France, as they have in Belgium, as they have in Germany and as they have done even in Myanmar. Self segregation makes “radicalization” and the terrorism that follows an eventual certainty.

    We have tried so hard with this refugee group, we even passed laws restricting freedom of speech, a central element of our own culture, to prevent criticism of them.

    And for what?

    To find out that no level of Islamic presence in a free society is desirable. Islam means submission not freedom. If a person wants to submit to a religion that consistently produces terrorism I am all for them being free to do so. In any Islamic country of their choice.

    Returning to their place of origin would allow them to be spiritually free to go on submitting to their own imagined divine authority, and we would be free to life our lives without fear.

    There will be a very large Islamic terrorist attack in Australia eventually. Then another after that, then another. Will you be still blogging for tolerance then?

    • Why is pointing out that someone has wilfully mistranslated and misrepresented the words of a religious text the same as “excusing the inexcusable”? The quotations were factually wrong. End of story.
      The number of Lebanese-Muslims who are involved in terrorism is 0.029 per cent. Read that number again. When that number is high enough that it constitutes something other than a statistical anomaly I will rethink my position. Until then, tolerance seems like the only way to get that number down closer to 0.00 per cent.

      • Thank you for your reply.

        You state-
        “The number of Lebanese-Muslims who are involved in terrorism is 0.029 per cent.”

        That it only an admitted and known figure.

        Unknown is the number of potential terrorists that have yet to be discovered or their existence admitted by authorities.

        Beyond that is the far greater number that are sympathetic but not willing to actively engage in terrorism, whose presence allows terrorism to be passively supported.

        You state-

        “The quotations were factually wrong. End of story.”

        The quotations that are cited are given as reasons for terrorism by Islamic terrorists and that is a fact. End of story.

        I admire you for your noble effort in trying to help bridge the gap between Islam and Australian society.

        At least you believe in something. Up until the terrorist attacks on Australian soil I was sympathetic. Those attacks opened my eyes, as have arguments with I have had with Australian Muslims since then who threatened to kill me and my family because I had no respect for their pedophile prophet.

        The the conflict between Islam and free society is going to spiral into open violence and only one side will win.

        I’m hopeful you will be able to be part of an intellectual movement that can prevent this happening.

        Hopeful, but not confident. You and other liberal intellectuals have lost me, my family and friends to your Islam inclusive belief system already.

        We wish you luck but think you are wasting your time.

      • Thanks for the words of support.
        Still, I thought we were done with the discussion about the quotations.
        You said: “The quotations that are cited are given as reasons for terrorism by Islamic terrorists and that is a fact.”
        My point was that the quotations cited are factually wrong because they are mistranslations (intentional I presume) of the original Arabic. If you would like to engage in a debate about translation and exegesis of the Qur’an I am more than willing to do so. But if we can’t even agree on a single fact over what the text literally says then we won’t find common ground. In a different context, somebody who doesn’t speak Arabic (which I presume is the case with you) challenging someone who does over the meaning of an Arabic text would come across as a little bit arrogant – though I won’t accuse you of that.
        I’m sorry that you and your family have given up on tolerance and I’m sorry that you have begun to find yourself in confrontational situations with Muslim Australians but here’s something that scholars know for sure about violence. It is frequently a cyclical phenomenon. Someone throws stones at someone who throws stones back (sometimes at someone else who is unrelated) which generates another violent response from that person and so on and so forth. It is a little bit of a chicken-and-egg issue (as in, it’s sometimes hard to gauge who threw the stones first) but the point is that it is perpetuated when people cannot look beyond their differences. This is the case with terrorism. You said yourself “until the terrorist attacks on Australian soil I was sympathetic [to Muslims]” which I take to mean you no longer can find any common ground between you and the 99.971% (and that’s an ABS statistic) of Lebanese-Muslims who have NOT been charged with terrorist offenses. Unfortunately there is no data to describe the “hidden” numbers of terrorist sympathisers you speak of so, although a good point, your comment is not supported by evidence and therefore must be seen as conjecture.
        Unfortunately, tolerance is not a choice. Rather, it is a necessity. If you can’t find common ground with Muslims in your community, violence in your community will spiral out of control. Remember, the reason jihadists plan and execute these terrorist attacks is to make you afraid (about something that is a statistical outlier) – and to sew hatred between you and your Muslim neighbours. Let the police do their job and don’t make it harder for them by throwing more stones. Remember, terrorism only works if you give it more attention than it deserves.

  11. People in Australia were protesting again the Vietnam war in the late 1960’s. In 2003 there was a huge street protest (3 million people) against the looming warmongering that Howard was going to join. The protests stopped after the Bali bombing.

    However none of these protestors in Australia were involved in violent activity.

    Are the people in Melbourne dupes who have been encouraged by intelligence operatives to go down bizarre paths? (Operation Gladio). If so, to what end?

  12. Discrediting inconvenient Islamic texts.
    Censoring inconvenient statistical data which contradicts your narrative by “describing the ‘hidden’ numbers of terrorist sympathisers”.
    Hey, it’s your website.
    You can be as partisan, censorious, misleading and “statistically anomalous” as you want.

    • I’ll reply in full to your earlier post citing CSP, Daniel Pipes and Pew data (some of which is relevant in shedding light on the “hidden” numbers) in a stand-alone post at a later date. I deleted your comment because the data in the sources you linked to deserves a full-length discussion but in the meantime I’d prefer my blog doesn’t become a click-pot for the alt-right seeking confirmation of their views. I have every intention of wading into some of the content you hyperlinked.
      Otherwise, nothing in my analysis discredits inconvenient Islamic texts. On the contrary, if you refer to my earlier post “Anti-Anti Islam” I actively grapple with the most controversial parts of the Qur’an. I also encourage dissent in the comments sections. What I’d prefer from commenters however is evidence-supported analysis as opposed to data-dumping links from (often unreliable) sources at the far reaches of the internet. If, in the meantime (while I work on a post about the Pew data you linked to), you’d like to offer some insightful opinion on what you have learned in the various links you provided I’ll condone it. But don’t just fill my comment sections with reams of dubious URLs.
      Think of the comment moderation here as a university tutorial. Everyone is entitled to share differing opinions freely through commentary. What I’m not after however, is an uncontextualised bibliography posted to direct traffic to questionable sources.
      If you can’t come up with commentary of your own then you’ll have to bear with me until I can write commentary of my own (which you are quite welcome to respond to).

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