Even though Obama has announced an anti-violent terrorism summit in February, the pathetic US response to the Paris killings remains a serious concern. The failure of any US Administration Minister to participate with many other international leaders in the rally in Paris (which extended to other French cities and towns) seems inexcusable, particularly given that neither Obama nor Biden had other engagements (and Obama was watching a football match!).
The concern extends to the fact that the White House announcement of the summit apparently “made no specific mention of Islam, Islamist terrorism, or Muslims in general” (see end of Daily Mail report below). In fact, the objective of the summit as reflected in the heading – “a Summit on Countering Violent Extremism”- suggests it is unlikely to involve an in depth analysis of Islamic influence and how to deal with that.
By contrast, this article by prominent US analyst Bill Kristol draws attention to an important speech last week by Egyptian head al-Sisi calling for a “religious revolution” within Islam. Kristol himself concludes “We face a crisis of Islam. We need to be clear-eyed about that. But we also face a crisis of the West. Only if we come to grips with that second crisis will this period of consequences turn out to be an occasion for renewal rather than another marker on the path to decadence”.
The article below by Henry Ergas (Eyes Wide Shut to Islamist Threat) is in similar vein. Note that he says that, while religion is an important part of the life of Muslims (78%), non-Muslims (76%) think it is not. Ergas suggests that closing one’s eyes to the Islamist threat is long over – “either we face the problem with Islam or, like Charlie, we die”.
The Paris killings and follow-up provide an opportunity to get to the bottom of the cause of the violence and how to deal with it . As this article by Attorney General Brandis indicates, a good start has been made in Australian with counter-terrorism measures, which include importantly “a new offence of advocacy, carefully drafted to fill a lacuna, where the existing crime of incitement to violence is insufficient to prosecute advocacy of terrorism”. To my mind this has potentially significant importance in dealing with, inter alia, the imams who preach jihadism.
Whether this provision can be handled by the judicial system, however, must be doubted given the numerous examples of judicial compassion (see, for example, this article misnamed Bail Refused of the judiciary to commit for trial a terrorist sympathiser). As I have argued before, the Abbott government also needs to issue a major public statement on our values system and our rejection of sharia law and certain other aspects of the Muslim religion. Public opinion needs to be influenced.