MEDIA RELEASE: Muslim Community Fears Being Caught in an Election Wedge
Sydney, 30 August 2004 - The Muslim community is concerned that the actions
of politicians during the upcoming election campaign may adversely
affect the lives of many Australian citizens, particularly those
belonging to the Islamic faith. “We saw in the last election campaign
that the government engineered the children overboard affair less than
a week before the election. Recent events have already shown that the
government was, to say the least, taking liberties with the truth,”
said Dr Waleed Kadous, co-convenor of AMCRAN. “What is to stop the
government from doing it again, but this time with a national security
Two particular fears seem to be permeating the Muslim community: firstly, that there may be arrests of alleged ‘terrorists’ more driven by political advantage rather than justice. AMCRAN’s view is that the laws are so broad and discretionary in their application, that some people could be arrested under very thin pretexts. This may not be motivated by national security, but by a desire to instil fear and lead to a swing in favour of the incumbent government. In the process however, it would shatter the lives of those individuals, and further isolate the Muslim community.
Secondly, Australian Muslims are fearful that through inappropriate use of language in the discussion of terrorism and security, they will further be drawn as in some way connected with terrorism. In general, even if nothing is explicitly said about Muslims, over-exaggerating the real threat of terrorism in Australia has an adverse impact on the population’s interaction with the Muslim community, because people incorrectly infer that Muslims must be involved. This is already evident in HREOC’s recently released Isma3 report.
On the 24 August, AMCRAN wrote to leaders of both the Government and Opposition seeking assurances that the parties would consider what they say about terrorism and related issues very carefully. The letter draws on the HREOC Isma3 report that shows elevated levels of racism and discrimination towards Muslims and Arabs, and concurs with its recommendations that political leaders need to carefully judge their words with respect to security and terrorism to ensure the Muslim community is not unjustly implicated.
AMCRAN calls on all political parties to commit to a “clean fight” on the issue of national security, without manipulating people’s fears by means of false arrests and alerts, and without the use of emotive or innuendo-laden language.
The Australian Muslim Civil Rights Advocacy Network (AMCRAN) is dedicated to preventing the erosion of the civil rights of all Australians, and, by drawing on the rich civil rights heritage of the Islamic faith, provide a Muslim perspective in the civil rights arena. It does this through political lobbying, contributions to legislative reform through submissions to government bodies, grassroots community education, and communication with and through the media. It actively collaborates with both Muslim and non-Muslim organisations to achieve its goals.
For further information, contact:
Dr Waleed Kadous
Tel: 02 9349 7186
Fax: 02 9349 2107
Letter to the Prime Minister about the Oct 9 election available here .