'Poisoned' relationship between Muslims, police: civil rights advocate Print E-mail
Sunday, 22 July 2007


ELIZABETH JACKSON: A civil rights advocate says the relationship between Australian Muslims and police has been "poisoned" to the point where Muslims will be reluctant to offer any help in future terrorism investigations out of fear for their own safety.

Matt Brown reports.

MATT BROWN: In March last year, the Australian Muslim Civil Rights Advocacy Network submitted a report to the International Commission of Jurists' inquiry into the implications of new counter-terrorism laws around the globe.

The report said Muslims feared the Australian legislation would be used to further disempower and "over police" the Muslim community. The network's spokesman, Dr Waleed Kadous, says the Mohamed Haneef case has confirmed those concerns.

WALEED KADOUS: Our feeling is that this will increase the level of fears.

When we wrote that proposal, we made some suggestions about what could happen or ways the laws could be used in unintended or unexpected ways. And to see them applied in that way in practice is extremely frustrating. And I think many Muslims will become fearful that they're being targeted.

MATT BROWN: The fears come after irregularities were found in the evidence against Mohamed Haneef. The police affidavit submitted during the bail hearing has at least four differences to what Haneef said in a police interview.

Dr Waleed Kadous says the inconsistencies have added to the concerns Muslims have in the way the case is being run against Haneef. He says any trust that existed in the relationship between police and Muslims has been damaged.

WALEED KADOUS: It makes it harder for Muslims who at this time when we really need to be cooperating on fighting terrorism, this is going to make it much harder for someone to put their head above the parapet.

I mean, he did try to call the police four times in the UK to see if he could help them. And we now see how he is treated. So it doesn't lead to a cooperative environment. It's poisoned cooperation, I think, in a lot of ways.

MATT BROWN: Dr Kadous says the evidence against Haneef, which he described as "flimsy at best" will create a sense of paranoia in the Muslim community, which already feels it's being singled out under the country's counter-terrorism laws.

WALEED KADOUS: It's every Muslim's fear that this could happen to him.

They can imagine being in the same situation Dr Haneef was in, that, you know, they left a SIM card with a relative before leaving the country and then something happens a year later. They can imagine borrowing money from someone and paying the loan back. These are not unusual things.

And to see him treated in this way, and when Muslims read the record of interview that's been released� I mean, as a Muslim myself, I read that and thought, you know, "There but for the grace of God go I".

ELIZABETH JACKSON: Australian Muslim civil rights advocate Dr Waleed Kadous ending Matt Brown's report.


Matt Brown, Sydney

AM - ABC , 21 July 2007

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