Let not their ignorance triumph over our reason

“What do the terrorists want us to do? They want to get the community to demonise the whole Australian Muslim community. Those people who want to attack Muslims in general, attack Islam in general, are doing the terrorists’ work. Because the strategy of the terrorists is to enrage the broader community (to attack Muslims) which will cause the Muslims to join the extremists…We must recognise that the vast bulk of Muslims here are good, patriotic Australians, and we must get our arms around them, because they are our best allies in the fight against extremism.” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull – September 2014

Wise words, Prime Minister. Uttered 14 months ago, they need to become part of the Australian mainstream vernacular. The understandable anger over the ghastly horror of Paris will only give rise to hate in our community, and this is exactly what Daesh (Islamic State) want.

As difficult as it is to maintain composure and withhold a kneejerk reaction in the face of horrendous terror, we need to stop and think. Ponder for a moment. If Australia did, as some suggest, close the doors to all Muslims, or, as others suggest, ‘reform’ Islam as if it’s as simple as economic policy, then this country validates the anti-Western narrative of the fanatics – they don’t want you here. Join us. Give your life meaning.

Never before has the famous maxim that ‘hate breeds hate’ been more relevant to our times.

Waleed Aly, with typical candour, caught the truth of the issue in words better than most:

“They want you to fear them. They want you to get angry. They want all of us to become hostile and here is why: ISIL’s strategy is to split the world into two camps. It is that black and white. Again we know this because they told us.”

“…We all need to come together. I know how that sounds. I know it is a cliche, but it is also true because it is exactly what ISIL doesn’t want.

“So, if you are a member of Parliament or a has-been member of Parliament preaching hate at a time when what we actually need is more love — you are helping ISIL. They have told us that. If you are a Muslim leader telling your community they have no place here or basically them saying the same thing — you are helping ISIL.

“They have told us that. If you are just someone with a Facebook or Twitter account firing off misguided messages of hate, you are helping ISIL — They have told us that.

“I am pretty sure that right now none of us wants to help these b*stards.”

Passionate and striking in its accuracy. This puts to shame Pauline Hanson’s take on the same issue:

“Muslims, if you are opposed to this murder…then leave the religion….let’s have a royal commission into Islam.”

Aly’s words are based on reason and careful thought. Pauline Hanson’s are based on emotion and an undercurrent of prejudice. It’s views such as hers, echoed throughout many corners of the Australian community, that are most dangerous. They are the child of ignorance.

Imagine a royal commission into a religion. It’s akin to the Salem witch trials and the Spanish Inquisition. Can we really be surprised that some young, idealistic Islamic youths would struggle ‘live our way of life’ when their own society, sanctioned by the media and some politicians, sponsor a hate-filled kangaroo court purely designed to validate hate?

This is exactly what Daesh wants. A divided Australia suspicious of Muslims inevitably makes young, disenfranchised Islamic people feel like outsiders in this country, and all of a sudden their message about the evils of the West and the virtues of taking up arms against it starts to hold weight. In our hate, we confirm their message.

Our sense certainty during these dangerous times could be the most pernicious threat to our wellbeing. There is talk of World War Three, and it’s true that when the world plunged into previous conflict it was due to misguided black and white ideas on the world. If the western world responds in irrational hate against all of Islam, it will perpetuate the very thing it fears: the crumbling of its tolerant and egalitarian way of life to make way for a culture of suspicion, fear, and hate.

Mainstream Muslims are not the enemy, ignorance is. The often quoted line that ‘not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslim’ is a stark example. The majority of terror attacks in Europe come from separatist groups motivated by a myriad of political agendas. 94 percent of terror attacks in the U.S since the 1980s have been committed by non-Muslims, ranging from Latino related groups to Left and Right Wing radicals. Yet this is what we’re not told.

We should mourn the tragic loss of life across the world as a result of what is, in every sense of the word, evil. Yet our capacity for good is diminished by an irrational want to hate in the face of little truth. Let not Daesh’s ignorance triumph over our reason.

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