We Can’t Turn Blind Eye to Extremist, Anti-Semitic Hate in Australia

By ZAINA CHEEMA A practicing general practitioner in Sydney

I was raised a devout Muslim. At university I joined student marches chanting ‘from the river to the sea’. Now I truly understand the malevolent nature of anti-Semitism. I am a doctor, human rights advocate and secular Australian woman who has spent many years in the Muslim community. My partner is Jewish, and in my professional life I consult both Muslim and Jewish patients almost daily. Growing up a devout Muslim, I spent years attending mosques and Islamic community centres across Sydney. I studied sharia law, memorised the Koran, performed the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca and wore a hijab from the age of 12 to 29. I recently travelled to Israel, a country I once denounced as a colonial apartheid state. At university I joined student marches chanting “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”. I recall during one of those marches we arrived at the Israeli embassy. People were shouting “shame”. I felt a knot in my stomach – something about the energy of the crowd had grown hateful.

But it’s only now, since the October 7 attacks, that I understand what that intuitive gut feeling meant: there is an additional malevolence in today’s anti-Semitism. It comes in the form of hatred towards Israel. For decades secular Muslims have been forced out of Muslim communities for their divergent views and irreligious lifestyle. This has led to communities becoming more insular over time, where hardline and intolerant rhetoric creates a culture of exclusionism, racism, misogyny, homophobia, and anti-Semitism. We have seen the rise of Islamic extremism across the globe and Australia is in no way safe from that threat. In our society there are hateful men brainwashing their communities to murder civilians based on their religion and oppose the core values that make Australia an incredible country. Multiculturalism is worth fighting for and the fight has arrived. Debate has been ignited across the nation following the hateful comments of brainwashed cleric “Brother Ismail”, who said: “The flag of ISIS and al-Qaida is the flag of the Muslim community.”

Yet another cleric from the Al Madinah Dawah Centre, Abu Ousayd, also known as Wissam Haddad, has now posted a video denigrating Jews and justifying the impending end-times murder of Jews by Muslims quoting a religious prophecy. There is no place in Australia for these extremist views or this version of Islam. Given the Al Madinah Dawah Centre’s support for terrorism and anti-Semitism, there must be an immediate suspension of activities and events there along with a review of all personnel affiliated with the organisation. The comments that emerged from the centre should bring a sense of shame to Muslims. I remember when I was a practising Muslim, whenever I heard hate speech such as this reported in the media it filled me with shame and anxiety. I internalised the negativity and the Islamophobia directed at me. I did not feel empowered to speak up then; I did not have a voice then. But today I do and I want to use it to call out what I see as extremist and incendiary behaviour that runs counter to the national interest.

Since October 7 there has been a deafening silence across much of Australia’s Muslim community. Only a few have condemned Hamas. In my view this highlights the dangerous rise of political and radical Islam. The Lebanese Muslim Association and patrons of the Lakemba mosque in southwestern Sydney – some of the most influential Muslim organisations in this country – have not condemned Hamas. We must ask why. The NSW Legislative Assembly member for Bankstown, Jihad Dib, who represents a suburb in Sydney with a significant Muslim community, gave a heartfelt and compassionate speech to the state parliament that should set the tone for our religious leaders to follow. Sheik Ibrahim Dadoun, a mainstream preacher and key member of United Muslims of Australia, stoked raucous crowds with a tone of elation and celebration following the murderous actions of Hamas. He holds four degrees and was, until recently, PR director at the Australian National Imams Council. This man’s words and actions cannot be ignored and must be denounced from across the Muslim community. They cannot be allowed to go unanswered; these communities must have the courage to stand against hate, not hide behind claims of “armed resistance”.

Hamas has been denounced by leading Islamic authorities, including the internationally recognised Islamic Fatwa Council. This alone should make clear to Muslims there is no place for Hamas apologists. Jihadist groups prey on Australian religious communities. Their game is simple: to isolate vulnerable individuals from the wider community, radicalise them and then use them to further their own political agendas. It’s worth exploring their sources of funding. It’s also vital these extremists feel the full weight of the law, and law enforcement works to update our counter-terrorism laws to prevent this type of violent hate culture and civil unrest in Australia.  I do not agree, however, with the deportation of religious extremists. These jihadists must be studied and deradicalised if we are to deal strategically with the broader risk of extremism and security. Many former radicals, including “son of Hamas” Mosab Hassan Yousef, have become the greatest activists against extremist Islam. Yousef’s father, Sheikh Hassan Yousef, was a co-founder of Hamas.

In medicine we know all diseases must be treated at their core; bandages only stop the bleeding. It gets you out of the intensive care unit but not out of hospital. Exporting the problem only risks delivering it to a population more susceptible to radicalisation, only to have them return to our doorstep once again. This has been a recurrent issue across Europe. Our Muslim youth – who often feel caught between Australian values and what’s being preached to them – must know they are Australian. They must know they were born here, that they’re part of the fabric of our country and that they are loved. We must not allow fanatical clerics to convince them otherwise. Our Jewish community must also know they are supported, especially as the general atmosphere of anti-Semitism continues to rise. We must come together to root out fringe clerics – expose them for who and what they truly are – so our multicultural country is never divided.

Source: The Australian

Print This Post Print This Post





Comments are closed