(This is an updated and edited version of my paper first published on 14 March 2017)
In 2016 there were approximately 1,813 terrorist incidents around the world. These resulted in more than 10,800 deaths (counting only those incidents where more than 20 were killed at one time. There were countless injuries. The vast majority of these incidents took place in countries in the Middle East, torn by war, such as Iraq and Syria. But there were others further afield including incidents in countries such as France, USA, UK, Brussels, Italy, Germany, Turkey, Israel, Venezuela, Russia, Switzerland, and Canada. Almost all of the perpetrators were Islamic, well and truly (though not exclusively) represented by ISIS, Boko Haram, Al Qaeda, al-Shabaab. The statistics are horrific, and these are only the events of 2016.
However, according to a report in the Washington post, the number of civilians killed by terrorists fell to 18,475 in 2017, a 33 percent drop from 2016.
So, is this “good” news? Only 18,475 killed!
Terror came to the streets of Melbourne in November 2018 when three innocent people were stabbed, one fatally. The Australian police are reported to have declared that this was a “reality check” and a “wake-up call”. Really!! What does it take?
Other recent terrorist attacks on tourist destinations included the Westminster Bridge attack (5 dead), a van ramming in London (7 dead) a subway bombing in Saint Petersburg (12 dead) and a Stockholm truck attack (5 dead). One of the most notorious attacks took place in Manchester. The bombing, at a concert by American pop star Ariana Grande, left 22 dead. A van ramming in Barcelona by ISIS loyalists left 16 dead. Subsequently eight people were run down and killed on a bike path in New York City.
Despite its defeat in Iraq in December 2017, ISIS may seek to reform and there remains a continuing presence in Syria. There is no room for complacency.
Can the leaders of the western world truly claim to have a mandate, in the name of compassion, to take in peoples, a small number of whom may be hidden terrorists who will eventually kill and maim.
Many in the West deny that Islamic extremism is related to Islam. However:
Violence is embedded in the Islamic religious texts. Islamic extremism is rooted in Islam itself
The Koran is considered to be God’s word, and questioning this an act of heresy
Death in holy war and martyrdom is considered the most hallowed pathway to paradise – what is unique to Islam is the tradition of murderous martyrdom in which the individual might simultaneously commit suicide and kill others in the name of religion
Across the Muslim world children are inculcated with a death wish – fathers recruit their children to become suicide bombers
According to Sharia law beheadings, crucifixion and amputation are sanctioned
The holy texts provide justification for males to carry out honour killings of female relatives – including in the west
Almost 200,000 American Muslims regard suicide bombings as being justified
The ultimate goal is to have Islam rule the world
oreign-born imams in London and elsewhere explicitly call for Jihad. There is even talk of raising the Islamic flag over number 10 Downing Street – and predictions that the black flag will one day fly at the White House
ISIS’ declaration of a caliphate is a central doctrine in Islam
The West has failed to develop an effective counter narrative because of its ongoing denial that Islamic extremism is related to Islam
The West can no longer afford to be blind to the consequences of accommodating beliefs which are openly hostile to western laws, traditions and values. Islam is not simply a religion – many of its fundamental tenets are irreconcilable with the way of life in the West.
RELIGION AND TERROR
The broader Muslim population in general (yes, including the peaceful majority!) is open to Islam playing a central role in law and in governance. For example, 86% of Malaysian Muslims and 72% of Indonesian Muslims favour making Islamic law the official law of the land. Islam’s distinctive relationship to politics goes way beyond the Arab world.
The notion of a Caliphate is powerful even amongst secular Muslims. In various surveys in countries such as Egypt, Morocco, Pakistan and Indonesia, almost 2/3 of respondents agreed with the objective of unifying all Islamic countries into a single Islamic state or Caliphate.
The ISIS vision for implementing Islamic law is total and unforgiving. Its aim was to establish and sustain a Caliphate. Islam would apply, not only to religion but also to law and governance. Instilling terror undermines morale, making opponents flee or surrender in battle. The Islamic State has built up a frightening mythology of the world’s fiercest fighters fearing nothing and welcoming death.
President Trump has spoken of eliminating this terrorist cult from the face of the earth. It will require enormous commitment and resourcefulness, not just words and slogans.
TWO MAJOR ISSUES TO BE CONFRONTED BY THE FREE WORLD
There are two major issues to acknowledged and addressed by the free world –
The threat of ongoing terrorism; and
The growing number of followers of Islam (including the majority of “peace-loving” Muslims) who would choose domination of Islam and Sharia, even in their western host countries – as a long term global objective.
Terrorism represents an overwhelmingly difficult challenge to the free world imbued with liberal, democratic, humanitarian values. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany has set a standard of compassion almost unimaginable even in the most liberal of democracies. She was at first heralded as an international hero – Time magazine’s Person of the Year. But as reality struck and the potential disruption that one million refugees brought to Germany was recognised, her stature became tarnished and her term as German Chancellor is rapidly drawing to a close.
President Trump has issued Executive Orders directed at named terror prone Islamic majority countries. The primary duty of the President is to protect the American people. Deadly attacks of the worst kind have taken place in USA - such as 9/11 in 2001 and the murders in Orlando Florida in June 2016 when 49 were killed and 53 wounded – by a killer who swore allegiance to the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Whatever the arguments for and against Trump’s measures, surely it must be acknowledged that in the free world, sanctity of life must be the first priority.
The rapidly growing Muslim populations in countries such as France, Germany, UK, USA, Australia and elsewhere suggests that in the medium term, there will inevitably be widespread cultural, religious and political change which will directly impact the nature of these societies and their values.
In early 2017, Yassmin Abdel-Magied claimed that Islam is the “most feminist” of all religions. This led to publication of an article by the widely respected, and brave, Ayaan Hirsi Ali (Australian Newspaper 18-19 February 2017) in which she argued that sharia law is among the most “dehumanizing, demeaning and degrading for women ever devised by man”.
Most countries require immigrants, new citizens to swear allegiance, in one form or another to their newly adopted country. In 1994, the Keating Government replaced the oath with a Pledge of Commitment to Australia:
“From this time forward, [under God,]
I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people,
whose democratic beliefs I share,
whose rights and liberties I respect, and
whose laws I will uphold and obey.”
It is not enough to merely mouth these words without real commitment. The pursuit of sharia law – even “sharia lite”, is plainly at odds with the above statement of allegiance. Much more is needed - A public renunciation of those laws and customs which conflict with those of Australia is required – including an express statement acknowledging that sharia law is repugnant to the Australian way of life and is accordingly REPUDIATED. This would not be too high a price to pay for those seeking to become a member of a society which rejects the very values which have driven them to seek accommodation in Australia.
14 November 2018