Islamic Penetration Neglected

Islamic Penetration

The revelation that a student at Epping Boys  High School in NSW has been preaching extremist Islamic ideology in the playground, apparently as part of state government-sponsored religious education programs, has led Premier Baird to announce a suite of measures across 2,200 schools. According to a report in today’s Australian,  the measures announced include “training for teachers and principals to help them spot signs of radicalisation”. It appears that this is well-needed (see below “Jamal Rifi says extremists filling teacher vacuum in schools”). Note in particular that NSW police have indicated that Epping Boys School is not the only school where attempts at radicalisation have been occurring.

Note also that the preacher student was “coached” by a former student who is now in jail awaiting trial for various offences. Such coaching reflects the standard practice of Muslims of trying to penetrate important institutions and influence their members. In the US the Muslim Brotherhood has effected considerable penetration of institutions, including of course the army.

At first glance, the revelation that schools in NSW (which has the highest proportion of Muslims), and presumably in other States too, provide religious programs seems an appropriate component of education policy, although some believe public schools should be completely secular. But should such programs include a religion which treats as appropriate the use of violence to achieve its objectives?

As indicated in the article (War on terror: fighting the lure of jihad among our youth”), an expert in counter-radicalisation expresses alarm – “One of the things we need to not forget about is the violence in violent extremism, not just extremism per se, because that in itself is not against the law,” Aly says. “It’s the violence. Often not the way we think it (radicalisation) goes is that somebody adopts the ideology, becomes a Salafi or Wahhabi and then they accept violence as part of the ideology. I am finding with my research, where we look at a database and personal case histories of more recent self-activated people like foreign fighters, it is actually the violence that is the first thing that attracts them and then the ideology comes as a way to justify the violence”.

Yet Premier Baird, who  initially expressed surprise at the “discovery” that Islamic ideology has been preached at a school, subsequently acknowledgedthat we now live “in a new and different world, as far as risks to our young people are concerned. These new risks mean that, collectively, we are going to have to be vigilant, and take action as necessary’’. But in  announcing an audit of all prayer groups in state schools he insisted this was not targeted at Muslim students. “We’re doing this together … I have been nothing but absolutely in awe of the Muslim leadership,” he said. “They have been determined to stamp out extremism.”

But just how this might be done is far from clear. It will be difficult to find common ground between supervisors of those approved as preachers of the Muslim religion to students and what those preachers are not allowed to say but which are part of the religion. What is to happen if radicalisation is found?

Baird’s public comments give the impression that he has not been aware of developments  in Islamic extremism in recent years. Indeed, at the same time as he announced the audit it was reported that a 19 year old pleaded guilty in Melbourne to 19 charges, including the supply of weapons to two 18 year olds to launch a terrorist attack on Anzac Day, and a 39 year old was also charged in Melbourne with terror offences. There have been  other terrorist instances involving Muslim youths. 

The reality is, as UK PM Cameron indicated recently in his important statement on Islamism, “in the past, governments have been too quick to dismiss the religious aspect of Islamist extremism … simply denying any connection between the religion of Islam and the extremists doesn’t work because these extremists are self-denying as Muslims”.

Regrettably, Prime Minister Abbott has frequently stated that Islamic extremism has nothing to do with the Muslim religion. This is not only incorrect but it opens the door to penetration of that religion in all its aspects, including jihadism. The exposure of Islamism in NSW schools confirms the need for a comprehensive statement by the Federal Government on what is not acceptable in a society based on western values

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