PRIME Minister John Howard has appealed to Muslim communities to
dob in those "within their midst" who advocate a "perverted,
fanatical form of Islam" in a bid to stop terrorism.
Mr Howard's plea comes as the Australian Muslim Civil Rights
Advocacy Network said the "vast majority" of the Muslim community
was opposed to the proposed counter-terrorism laws.
As the Senate this week begins an inquiry into the anti-terror
legislation, Mr Howard promised to "reach out" to law-abiding
Muslims, declaring they were "our friends" and "part of this
Mr Howard said terrorism was a shadowy, obscene enemy that in
the past few years had claimed the lives of more Muslims around the
world than any other identifiable religious group.
He used a speech to a Queensland Liberal Party conference
yesterday to urge Muslims to help the Government and police stop
"It is the responsibility, particularly of the leaders of the
Islamic community, to ensure as best they can, with our
co-operation, that those within their midst who might seek to
pervert the minds particularly of the young, to a distorted obscene
form of Islam are identified and dealt with as best they can," he
There was also an obligation on the rest of the community "to
reach out to our fellow Australians who are law-abiding Muslims and
say to them, 'you are our friends, you are part of this fight.
Terrorism is as much an enemy of yours as it is of ours'," he
Mr Howard, who briefed US President George Bush about the arrest
of 18 terrorist suspects in Melbourne and Sydney during a 30-minute
telephone call yesterday, said new terror laws were not aimed at
Australians who were Muslims.
Last week's arrests were not "a generalised attack on the
Islamic community", he said. Police were simply dealing with
alleged breaches of the law.
However, his comments come a week after a Muslim woman and her
family were assaulted in a Williamstown park.
"Fatimah" was punched, kicked, spat on and and abused, told to
"go home to her own country" and left with an injury to her right
Her sister, she said, had a knife thrust towards her face.
According to Fatimah, she was on a family picnic with her
sister, husband and three children, aged five, eight and 10, and
their elderly mother-in-law to celebrate the end of the Muslim holy
month of Ramadan when the attack occurred.
The family had caught the train to Williamstown and had just
begun cooking on a public barbecue in the park when an argument
broke out with a group of people waiting to use the barbecue.
Fatimah and her sister do not wear headscarfs, but their
67-year-old mother-in-law was wearing one and Fatimah believes the
Muslim identification contributed to the attack.
"They called us every name you could imagine, telling us to go
home and hitting us — they said no one wanted us to come to
Australia," she said.
Williamstown police have confirmed an incident occurred in the
park last Saturday.
Police have spoken to two witnesses and said charges of assault
arising from the alleged attack could be laid. But they said it was
too early to determine if the alleged attack was racially
They said the group that allegedly carried out the attack were
also from a minority race background.
The Australian Muslim Civil Rights Advocacy Network has called
for extensive changes to the anti-terror bill, including reducing
the 10-year sunset clause to three years and removing "advocating
terrorism" as a ground for proscribing an organisation, in a
submission to the Senate inquiry.
It argues the test for judging people to be risks for the
purpose of putting them under control orders should be "beyond
reasonable doubt" rather than "on the balance of probabilities".
This is because control orders can be used to impose such harsh
conditions, including electronic tracking and house arrest.
"Of particular concern to the Muslim community is that the low
test for control orders potentially opens the door for racial or
religious profiling … whether it be officially or
unofficially," the submission says. This could happen at the level
of grassroots policing or in the court room.
"In the courtroom, there is a real possibility that the fact
that a person prays at a particular mosque, or that they are devout
Muslims, could be used as evidence to support claims of involvement
in terrorism", the submission says.
The network says that having trained with a terrorist
organisation should be removed as a reason for granting a control
order, and warns that the draconian provisions against financing
terrorism could reduce support for people in need.
Victorian Labor Senator Kim Carr last night told the Alawi
Islamic Association of Victoria's annual dinner in Somerton the
Howard Government had fostered "the unleashing of thoughtless and
ignorant prejudice in our society and Islamic communities have
borne the brunt of this ignorance".
■ INJURED accused terrorist Omar Baladjam was transferred
from hospital to prison in Sydney's biggest ever anti- terror
Black anti-terrorist choppers hovered overhead as the heavily
armed convoy took the 28-year-old former Home and Away actor
from Liverpool Hospital to the secure hospital at Long Bay Jail
just before lunchtime.
Baladjam was shot in the neck by police officers on a Green
Valley street on Tuesday night after he allegedly opened fire on
two officers. He is one of eight alleged terrorists arrested in the
A huge security operation involving more than 100 police
officers swung into action. Police officers conducted thorough
searches of everyone entering the hospital.
Heavily armed special operations officers joined the rear of the
convoy in four-wheel-drives while two helicopters, one with
surveillance cameras underneath, trailed the procession.