Only a few months ago, I lived in a predominantly Muslim neighborhood. In the townhouse I lived in, there were 45 dwellings. Of that, there were five ‘white’ Australian families. The rest were a mixture of Afgani, Sudaneese, Somalian, Pakistani, Islander, Indian, Bangladeshi, Iranian and Iraqis. Most were first or second generation refugees to Australia. With one or two exceptions, they all attended the local mosque.
For the most part, they kept to themselves and we kept to ourselves. Some were very friendly, inviting us over for tea, others would not even say hello. We met some wonderful people – hardworking, family orientated, friendly and engaging. Some were only too happy to talk to me about their faith, about the rumblings they had about the atrocities done in the name of their faith and take pride on how they had incorporated themselves into Australian society.
We were happy in Kuraby, although we felt very out of place.
Late last year, you may have read about it, there was a ‘brawl’ between two bike gangs on the Gold Coast. One of the bikies who was charged came from Kuraby, and was a prominent member of the local Muslim community. It was after that, we thought that it would take one ‘incident’ (such as an AFP / ASIO terror raid or something similar) and that would be the sign for us to move.
As it happened, we were broken in the very next day. We were broken in by people who we went out of our way to help, who we let into our house and extended hospitality to. That was all the motivation we needed to move. Shortly after that, our house was listed for sale and sold.
When we lived in Kuraby, my wife and I would often talk about the implications of living in that neighborhood. Not many people know this, but under Australia’s anti-terror laws, it’s possible for the relevant authorities to ‘lock down’ entire suburbs, should the risk arise. After every incident that occurred with terrorism abroad (think the London train bombings, the Bali bombings and Madrid bombings, not to mention a swathe of occurrences though the Middle East), we would wonder if there would be any local repercussions.
Right now, the Islamic State is butchering its way through Syria and Iraq, savagely murdering anyone who wont ‘convert’ to their brand of Islam. Sitting in Brisbane, Australia, it’s easy to think ‘that’s terrible’ and continue to drink my morning coffee…
Today’s headlines told me that the Australian Federal Police have executed warrants and made arrests on an Islamic bookshop in Underwood, the next suburb over, and arrested two individuals, one who lived in the next street over to our old townhouse in Kuraby. As soon as I read the headlines, I called my wife up, who was at the Underwood shops at the time. We are both so thankful that we moved out of that neighborhood, away from that scene.
As terrible as this sounds, it was easier to ‘ignore’ terror when it was in another continent. You try not to believe that there are people that you probably crossed paths with, caught the train with, shopped with that subscribe to such an evil ideology. When these incidents occur, however, it makes it all seem just that step closer.
I know it might be easy to get cynical and think that these arrests are of a political nature, aimed to whip up fear, to divide and rule, to demonise a minority or to try to lurch Australia ‘to the Right’. I guess in rebuttal, you only need to see what IS are doing through Syria & Iraq that they are already doing a fine job of creating an environment of fear – a much better job then any Aussie pollie or bureaucrat could cook up!
So I guess what I’m asking is how do you respond to terror? This is the dilemma that I am facing now. I’ve long believed that you can’t bomb an ideology away. You can raise a city with an A-bomb, but you can’t nuke a faith, a belief or ideology. Do I reconcile this with thinking that in Australia, it’s a simple law-and-order issue, and trust the police and courts to prosecute crimes against Australia and Australians? I know it’s a long bow to draw, but just look at Rotherham to see how well it happened there. Do you fight fire with fire and attack this ideology with a stronger ideology?
How do you love your neighbor in this situation? How does a libertarian, such as myself, trust the individual to make decisions for himself when those decisions he is making are the polar opposite of freedom and liberty?
How do you deal with terrorism, especially when it’s evil ideology is sleeping in your neighborhood, waiting for a violent rousing?
Image from http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/two-held-after-raids-face-charges-of-recruiting-funding-syria-fighters/story-e6frg6nf-1227053842612