The Christmas-New Year period offers an opportunity for deeper than usual thinking about where the world is going. In this end-year the most important intellectual (and military) challenge undoubtedly relates to that posed by militaristic Islam and the view taken by some of its sects that an objective of life is to kill non-believers, including by implementing an accompanying self-imposed death.
This is illustrated in today’s report that the widely acclaimed take-back of Ramadi by Iraqi troops (with advisory help from Australian special forces) has led to a counter-attack from Islamic State militants using suicide car bombers and fighters wearing explosive belts. Other reports of militancy appear only to have involved threats of terrorism in a number of cities in the US and Europe which have been detected and prevented by various measures, including by the closure of rail transport and the allocation of additional police/soldiers to patrol the areas under threat. President Hollande went on TV to warn that the terrorist threat remains high in France. Quite apart from their threat to lives, the danger from these Islamic sects obviously require considerable government funding which would otherwise be available for other purposes including lower taxes.
Australia has not experienced similar “scares” recently but the question of how we should respond publicly to the Islamic attitudes behind such threats and incidents continues to be the subject of debate. In mid-December the Assistant Minister for Multi-Cultural Affairs, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, had an article published in The Australian arguing against calls for reform of Islam per se (as Abbott and others have done). According to her, there are various approaches to interpreting the Koran and spokesmen such as the Grand Mufti do “not represent or speak for all Muslims in Australia”. The (remarkable) implication is that Australians should not be concerned if Islamic spokesmen support the jihardist interpretation of the Koran. Instead a framework should be established (presumably by the government?) to ensure Australian imans give a moderate interpretation of the Koran!
In his article below, expert theologian Mark Durie examines the naive view taken by Fierravanti-Wells, who was appointed to Multi-Cultural Affairs by Turnbull. He points out that she is completely off-track in declaring the Koran “a collection of revelations from God to the Prophet Mohammed”. In reality there is no basis for claiming that Mohammed was God’s prophet. Durie also points out other deficiencies in F-W’s analysis, including that just as Muslims do not have a single overarching authority interpreting the Koran nor do Christians in regard to the Bible. However, he notes that the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation has established a peak religious body which issues authoritative rulings on religious matters. Durie’s conclusion? That “it is reasonable for Australians to hold the Muslim community to account for the utterances of their leaders”.
I have previously commented on statements by PM Turnbull and ASIO Head Lewis ( remarkably, Menzies Research Chairman Harley has joined them recently) that blame for jihadist statements or actions should not be accorded to the Muslim religion per se or even to Muslim leaders who appear to express sympathy to the jihardist sect. Such attitude-responses have been strongly and widely challenged but surprisingly Turnbull has made no formal public statement on the issue. It is (to say the least) strange that the combination of militant Islamic action in the Middle East and the virtually daily militant incidents or threats elsewhere has not produced such a statement.
There appears however to be wide realisation within the Australian community that there is a serious threat emanating from jihardist sects in the Muslim religion and a public statement could assist understanding. Indeed there is reason to believe that the absence of such a statement exacerbates divisions in the community: we already have clashes between groups opposed to establishing mosques and those who support such establishments and argue non-sensibly that their opponents are racists. The argument against attributing the Muslim religion as the underlying cause of the problem seems in present circumstances both naive and out of touch with reality.
I am including here a survey by the Gatestone Institute on the Islamization of Britain in 2015 which reveals I suggest an alarming situation. I am doing this because it illustrates what can happen when a country adopts a policy of multi-culturalism. Of course, Australia is not at present exposed to Islamism to the same extent as Britain has been but our counter-terrorist policies need to be toughened and the Turnbull government needs to present a realistic picture to the Australian community of the threat from Islamism
PS The chairman of the Gatestone Institute is former US Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, who is now attached to the American Enterprise Institute think-tank in Washington DC.