Abbott seized on the anti-terror raids on 18 September to declare that Australia was at “serious risk from a terrorist attack”. The government is trying to find a way out of its budget nightmare by beating up a terrorism scare campaign.

Abbott has talked in lurid terms about the growth of ISIS (IS), now calling itself the Islamic State, labelling them “murderous hordes”, “pure evil” and a “death cult”, even claiming they are worse than the Nazis and the Stalinist dictatorships of the twentieth century.

The government has sought to link the group to the potential for terrorist attacks in Australia, claiming those who return to Australia after fighting in Syria or Iraq pose a threat.

Yet even according to the outgoing head of ASIO, David Irvine, who has backed Abbott to the hilt, there are only around 20 people in Australia who have returned from fighting in Syria or Iraq.

Revealing the nonsense behind the claim this poses some kind of unprecedented threat, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop admitted there were actually 25 people who returned to Australia in the past after fighting in Afghanistan.

ASIO has raised the terror alert to high—meaning they judge a terror attack “likely”. This alert rating has been moved higher than it has ever been—even after the Bali bombings or the London bombings.

There has not been a single terrorist attack carried out in Australia since 9/11.

The government has also committed Australian troops and $500 million dollars to a new attack on Iraq targeting IS.

Ridiculously, Abbott claims it’s not a new war—“What I’m talking about is Australia’s readiness to engage in combat operations inside Iraq.”

The mainstream media has played along. The Murdoch press, including The Australian and tabloids The Daily Telegraph and Herald-Sun have splashed inflammatory images and headlines across their front pages day after day.

The Daily Telegraph even ran with the headline “Bomb them to hell” in support of bombing Iraq.

Islamophobia

The government’s new anti-terror laws target and scapegoat the entire Muslim community. There is much anger at the government’s new power to charge people simply because they have travelled to “designated areas”, to include at least Syria and Iraq, unless they can prove they were not involved in terrorism. As lawyer Greg Barns put it, this means, “every Australian who travels to Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Iraq or Iran to see elderly relatives or to attend a family wedding is liable to interrogation.”

Since the beginning of the “war on terror” in 2001, we’ve seen a wave of racism against Muslims.

The ten year invasion and occupation of Iraq killed upwards of one million Iraqis and tore the society apart. Terrorist attacks and the growth of groups like IS are a product of Western wars and imperialism. Western leaders can’t admit that so instead they blame terrorism simply on an “evil ideology”.

Tony Abbott has echoed the language of many other world leaders in declaring, “They don’t hate us for what we do; but for who we are and for how we live.”

The clear implication in the language condemning this “extremist” Islamic ideology is that Islam itself is part of the problem and that the entire Muslim community is at fault. The notion that the Muslim world as a whole is somehow backward and doesn’t share so-called democratic values has become widespread.

Despite his claims that his anti-terrorist measures were “not directed against any particular community or religion” it has been Islamic community leaders called to special meetings with Abbott on how to combat it and then paraded in the media.

Abbott’s declaration that, “you don’t migrate to this country unless you want to join our team” labelled the entire Muslim community as outsiders who have to prove their right to be here.

Within the Muslim community there is significant opposition to what the government is doing. Silma Ihram, a respected community leader in Sydney, accused Abbott of “doing very well at being divisive”.

Over 90 individuals and groups including a range of sheiks and most of the country’s Muslim student associations signed a sharply worded open letter denouncing the government for introducing, “laws [that] clearly target Muslims and…do so unjustly” and exaggerating a “trumped up ‘threat’ from ‘radicalised’ Muslims returning from Iraq or Syria.”

We need to stand with the Muslim community against Abbott’s racism. His national security scare is designed to distract attention from the real enemy within—a government that is attacking students, pensioners, workers and the unemployed with its savage budget.

By James Supple

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