Looking nationally and internationally, one can easily predict that 2016 will be another terrorising year for both Muslims and non-Muslims living in Australia. This is a quick survival guide towards peace which will help ease the rising religious divisions and Islamophobia.
Terrorist groups like Daesh (the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) kill people of all religions, nationalities and races with clear objective of setting off a clash between Islam and the west. Facts show that terrorists have no religion, regardless of what they may want to call themselves. They're simply evil, brutal terrorists with no moral or religious soul of any kind.
As the former head of International Counter Terrorism in Special Branch at New Scotland Yard, Nick O'Brien, wrote in The Conversation:
It's in the interests of Islamic State for Muslims in Australia to be attacked or for their mosques to be attacked, because doing so would help divide the Australian community … it's only a tiny minority of the Muslim community that are ever involved in any kind of extreme action. The vast majority are decent, ordinary people.
Similarly, the international director of Monash University's Global Terrorism Research Centre Greg Barton has warned that a knee-jerk, anti-Muslim reaction is a threat to our national security:
Trust between different ethnic and religious groups across Australia and with our security authorities is the bedrock of our security … In many cases where passports have been withheld in Australia, the tip-offs have come through the community.
Therefore, we Australians (Muslims and non-Muslims) should not fall into the trap of terrorists and be held hostage to their sick narrative. We must always be on guard against terrorism, its our responsibility to band together to defeat not only terrorism but equally important, avoid falling into the Islamophobia trap.
Last week there was an attack on a bus in Kenya by Al-Shabaab. This terrorist group was going to kill any Christians on-board but the Muslims in the bus risked their lives to save the Christians by giving them hijabs (headscarves). We simply cannot do it alone.
These weakening terrorist groups are on the hunt to recruit more troubled Muslim youths from western countries. On the first day of the new year, militant group Al Shabab in Somalia released a recruitment video that criticised racism and anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States and contained footage of the Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump announcing his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the country. This recruitment video appears to be aimed at the African-American community.
It should not be a surprise if we start seeing some of our own Australian politicians (who hold extreme views) in terrorist recruitment videos targeting distanced and disturbed Muslim youths. The new wave of immigrants fleeing wars are the new kids on the block. It is all of our responsibility to support them, make them welcome and introduce to them true Australian values such as justice, equality, mutual respect, fair go and support for parliamentary democracy including the rule of law.
Muslims condemn terrorism just like any sane person would. We don't expect every Christian to condemn the so-called "Christian" terrorist group known as the KKK. The same courtesy should extend to Muslims regarding terrorist groups claiming to act in the name of Islam.
Prevention is always better than a cure. As a caring society we have a duty to ourselves to protect the society we value and to assist those needing help. By acting early and helping to build resilient communities we can address core drivers of violence before they become more powerful.
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