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The immigration ministers and the Grand Mufti. And torture.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, along with former Immigration Ministers Scott Morrison and Philip Ruddock, took to the media last week to voice their disapproval of comments made by Australia’s Grand Mufti, Ibrahim Abu Mohammed, on the recent terrorist attacks in Paris.

There’s little doubt that some of the Grand Mufti’s remarks appear to rationalise, even justify, the terrorist attacks, by pointing to increasing Islamophobia in the West, and its symptomatic widespread willingness to regard all Muslims as harbouring secret and not so secret desires to destroy ‘western values.”

Dutton et al demand from the Mufti not rationalisation, but an unconditional condemnation of terrorist attacks, which is not an unreasonable demand. There’s a fine moral and intellectual line: while it’s important to grasp context, that’s an entirely different matter from using that context as justification for acts of terror.

That the west has been the cause of untold death and destruction in its violent pursuit of its own interests in the Middle East is also suggested by the Grand Mufti as background to current terrorism, a narrative I find difficult to disagree with, while simultaneously refusing it as justification for terrorist attacks.

Such is the state of things at the moment, it’s almost impossible to discuss context and history without being accused of being a sympathiser of whichever faction carries the role of baddie, and that applies to just about every situation, not only terrorism. Nuance is not currently our friend. Hardly anybody has time for it and social media is generally not its advocate.

State-sanctioned terrorist attacks perpetrated by the west are named more acceptably as “just war,” a term bandied about at the time of the Blair, Bush and Howard invasion of Iraq, that act of Christian crusading terrorism (the axis of evil, you’re with us or against us) that left the country in ruins and some 700,000 of its citizens dead. John Pilger traces western state-sanctioned terrorism from the time of Pol Pot to ISIS, and it reveals us for the blood-drenched, murderous lot we are, despite the treasured “western values” used to justify so much of the horror we inflict on those who are not us.

The three immigration ministers who’ve complained about the Grand Mufti, Ruddock, Morrison and Dutton, are responsible for the horrific indefinite incarceration of waterborne asylum seekers, even tiny young ones, in hellish conditions in off-shore camps on Manus Island and Nauru. These incarcerated beings committed no crime. It makes little difference, especially for women, that the Nauru detainees are now permitted to roam that island: they are likely safer in detention.

Conditions in off-shore concentration camps have been described by the UN as violating the convention against torture. Think about that. Torture. We are torturing people. Yes. Us.

To which then PM Tony Abbott responded that Australians are sick of being lectured to by the UN. Well, what torturer ever liked having their crime named?

It is, to my mind, an act of terrorism to indefinitely imprison in vile conditions and without hope, a group of people who have committed no crime and with whom we are not at war. It is an act of terror to imprison and torture those who you know are innocent. These prisoners are subjected to torture in order to deter others from legitimately arriving in this country by boat, and requesting asylum. This is terrorism.

Their imprisonment is an act of violence. It is intended to intimidate a society of people who are unable to remain in their homeland for fear of persecution or death. Its goal is to achieve political, ideological and religious objectives. This is terrorism.

As I write this, there are reports that another boat has arrived near Christmas Island, and is apparently being towed out to sea again by our navy. To what destination? To what fate? Are there children on board? Pregnant women?

So it is with the barking laughter of contemptuous disbelief that I watch these three men take the high moral ground with the Grand Mufti.

It is not ISIS terrorists who will destroy our “western values.” We’re doing that all by ourselves. Yes, I would like to hear the Grand Mufti unconditionally condemn the Paris attacks. And yes, I would like to hear Ruddock, Morrison and Dutton admit to the torture they continue to support and perpetrate, terrorism that is inextricably linked to attacks such as those in Paris.

The three immigration ministers are as fond as is the Grand Mufti of citing justifications for their vile actions. Regrettably, I think we are far more likely to hear unconditional condemnation of terror from the Grand Mufti than we ever will from Ruddock, Morrison and Dutton, those valiant upholders of western values, and steadfast protectors of the western purity of our borders.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.


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  1. mars08

    Because… as they ALWAYS remind us…. the Islamic militants “hate us for our freedom” and want to rule us undef Sharia law. WE are the only victims here.

    Wait… seems there’s some unpatriotic, sneaky USAF people who have other ideas. Damn those traitors!

    “Air Force Whistleblowers Risk Prosecution to Warn Drone War Kills Civilians, Fuels Terror”

  2. Max Gross (@Max_Gross)

    I have said it before and I will say it again: terrorism is in the eye of the victim

  3. mars08

    WE are the only victims!

  4. Chris the Greatly Dismayed

    Or the video version of the story from PressTV is also good.
    “Former US military drone operators criticize use of unmanned aircraft” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQX97po33FI

  5. mars08

    Or…. or… we could mindlessly go with the bigots, bullies and bedwetters… and deny that it’s blowback from a century of foolish, self-serving, meddling… and just keep doing the same old thing.

  6. mark delmege

    I noticed that Plibersek when directly questioned on the ABC about the Muflt’s remarks regarding ‘foreign policy and military intervention’ she refused to answer the question. Its no surprise cos her party has supported the regime change attempt in Syria and she has used the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights – a front group is ever there was one – to justify the ‘Wests’ arming fanatics to kill in Syria. Maybe she hasn’t been around long enough to recognise a covert operation when she sees it but I don’t buy that. And neither did the ABC interviewer wish to pursue the truth.
    What the Mufti said was fine. But apologists for Empire will always find a way to criticise those who oppose them.

  7. Matters Not

    three men take the high moral ground with the Grand

    Not possible. While an ‘attempt’ is/was in play, the incapability to achieve same was never more evident.

    To be as dumb as dog shit (a seven word slogan) will soon be reduced to ‘do a Dutton‘. It’s only three words. And it resonates.

  8. mark delmege

    I wonder what the Fabian Socialist talk about (hint it includes many senior ALP members)

  9. jim

    Seems all my life I was led to believe (and I did ) that the USA was the most righteous fairest country on earth but no longer after the millions of bombs and killing of innocents, how can any sane person think so, to this day I always think one nuke on Japan not two would of been enough, another is just look at how their cops behave,ie treating everyone like scum bags,I think if this TPP get passed we will have cops like the USA right here in oz. deplorable ain’t it.

  10. Möbius Ecko

    jim the nukes on Japan had nothing to do with getting Japan to surrender and everything to do with Russia. Japan was well and truly beaten, and was moving to surrender before the nukes were dropped.


  11. mars08

    @jim… Unfortunately, it’s not a rare mistake. Our news media and ruling class are always keen to paint over America’s faults. And let’s not forget that we share a common language… allowing American mythology and propaganda to spread without any filtering.

  12. jim

    Hi, thanks for the info /links it spells out, now I think just who are the real terrorists? ,”According to an account by Walter Brown, assistant to then-US secretary of state James Byrnes, Truman agreed at a meeting three days before the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima that Japan was “looking for peace”. Truman was told by his army generals, Douglas Macarthur and Dwight Eisenhower, and his naval chief of staff, William Leahy, that there was no military need to use the bomb. What a sad world we’re all living in eh.https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn7706-hiroshima-bomb-may-have-carried-hidden-agenda/ And I just brought Murdochs Sunday mail but Never again EVER.

  13. Kaye Lee

    We cannot fix the problems in the Middle East but we must understand why some of our young people are being seduced to join groups such as IS. Who better to give some context and help us find a way to protect both our young people from recruitment and the wider population from lone wolf attacks than the Grand Mufti? Do we find it so hard to listen to why young people are vulnerable and that we may have played a part in their disaffection? Are we incapable of recognising that growing Islamophobia from idiots like Jacqui Lambie is counterproductive and actually adds to the alienation of Australian Muslims?

    As for our own institutionalised terrorism where we indefinitely incarcerate traumatised children, it would only take Turnbull and Shorten to agree that it must stop but I do not believe that either of these men are capable of risking their enormous personal ambition to do what they both know is right.

    As an aside, Denis Atkins made a comment on Insiders about how funny it was seeing Turnbull chatting with Obama. Turnbull seemed to have found ONE person that he thought was ‘greater’ than himself.

  14. mars08

    Our own institutionalised terrorism? What about the institutionalised and commercialised bigotry, aggression, hatred and ignorance?

    We cannot fix the problems in the Middle East but we must understand why some of our young people are being seduced to join groups such as UPF!

  15. Kaye Lee

    Very true mars08. There seem to be a growing number of groups with ‘patriot’ in their names who are making me REALLY want to change our flag.

  16. mars08

    @Kaye Lee… it’s not just the organised, overt, idiotic racism. I’m also disturbed by the casual bigotry I see around me every day.

  17. Chris the Greatly Dismayed

    Melton protests: Heavy police presence separates anti-Islam, anti-racism groups

    Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/melton-protests-heavy-police-presence-separates-antiislam-antiracism-groups-20151121-gl4s5m.html#ixzz3sCZTSroa

    Police, protesters clash at Martin Place rally to oppose anti-Islam groups

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/police-protesters-clash-at-martin-place-rally-to-oppose-antiislam-groups-20151122-gl4w74.html#ixzz3sCZqNhoj

  18. mars08

    Interesting… the anti racism group included some anarchists… But the Reclaim Australia protesters were just some people expressing their concerns.

  19. paul walter

    Another good one from Wilson. Enjoyed the “Three Muftis” analogy. Desolate gear.

  20. corvus boreus

    Repulsive and shameful scenes at Melton today.
    Whatever mob the men in black clothes and face-scarves (the ones stabbing their red/black banner poles at people’s faces) belonged to, they just gifted a hell of a lot of public sympathy to ‘we-claim straya’, and thus to the neo-fascist extremists behind it.
    Food for the beast.

  21. Matters Not

    Repulsive and shameful scenes at Melton today.

    While I may agree, can that statement be universalised to include the majority of the Australian population? And if not. then why not?

    Where do we ‘politically’ go from here? Any thoughts?

  22. Sen Nearly Ile

    Australian religions need to support women as more than sanctified breeders.
    It was always laughable when the amoral “women can never be equal” jesuit boy spoke about women from his all boys club but he was Santamaria indoctrinated.
    Oops, Turnball is a convert to the same club, so knowingly subscribes to the ‘virgin mary’ concept.
    Ah well Matters Not – there is a strong memory of 1949-72. So ‘it will be ‘time again’ in 2036 when the land mass of Australia will be considerably less and not just from the rising seas.

  23. Chris the Greatly Dismayed

    “Repulsive and shameful scenes at Melton today.”
    @corbus I wasn’t there but it was no doubt ‘same as usual’ by the police and right wing thugs, neither of who receive media or public criticism (to the same extent).
    Here are some examples of police tactics

    Right wing thugs almost always start the violence (often with approval of police – I have seen and overheard this myself). It is understandable that young peaceable people are threatened by all of this and flags with sizeable poles are defense. These people don’t fight for a living like the other two mentioned groups.
    Don’t fall for the misrepresentation of this. Those people are being braver than you.

  24. corvus boreus

    Chris t G D,
    Dressing head to toe in black, including face-coverings, and stabbing sticks into unarmed people’s faces does not look ‘peaceable’ or ‘brave’, it makes those who do so look like violent thugs to the broader public, especially when reinforced by the inevitable slant put on such matters by the media.
    I stand by my statement, the violent actions of the black and red clique was recruitment manna from heaven in terms of advancing the divisive agenda of the shady extremists behind ‘we-claim straya’, in the same way as reactive violence feeds the daesh.
    You see bravery, I see people craving confrontation.

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