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New Terror Laws Risk Alienating Muslim Youth Print E-mail
Wednesday, 28 September 2005

 

A new set of anti-terror laws has been agreed to by state and federal leaders amid concerns that they erode civil liberties and ‘single out’ Muslim communities. Islamic leaders fear the laws will impact heavily on Muslims, restricting their freedoms and heightening anti-Muslim sentiment. Many are particularly concerned about the impact of the laws on Muslim youth, claiming they will add to a growing sense of alienation among them.

The Age reports that under the laws, police will be able to detain suspects as young as 16 for up to 14 days without charge and control their movements through court orders. Other measures include police powers to stop and search people in transport hubs and mass gatherings like sporting events and rallies.

 

The laws do not explicitly target Muslims or any other racial category. But this week Federal police made a de facto admission that Muslims are likely to be targeted when they called for protection against civil law suits from people accusing police of "racial profiling.”

Speaking to Signature magazine, Agnes Chong from the Australian Muslim Civil Rights Advocacy Network (AMCRAN) has stated that increased police powers have resulted in Government intrusion into Muslim people’s lives. “The terrorism laws have the effect of constructing Muslims as a suspect community — just being a Muslim makes you a target of suspicion and subjects Muslim communities, as a whole, to increased surveillance. This has disempowered the Muslim community, with people now afraid to speak out on political issues and even, ironically, the anti-terrorism laws themselves.”

Commentators outside the Muslim community, such as Michelle Gratten of the Age, fear the growing sense of exclusion among Islamic youth could lead to terrorist acts. This view confirms research conducted for the Victorian Police by the Global Terrorism Research Unit at Monash University in Melbourne which suggests Australia's hardline counter-terrorist policies could end up backfiring. ABC Melbourne reported that David Wright-Neville, from Monash University, discussed anti-terror laws with Muslim community leaders who said many of their youth are now reluctant to approach police if they suspect a terrorist plot, fearing they would automatically be thrown in jail.

 

Youth News Infoxchange Australia, 28 September 2005

 
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