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Home > fundamentalism / shrinking secular space > Australia: BIGOTS RECRUIT FOR ISIS


Tuesday 30 September 2014, by siawi3



SEPTEMBER 30, 2014 62 47 3

While Australian defence forces are engaged in an international war against ISIS militants, some local vigilantes have become self-appointed defence forces.
They may believe that they are defending Australia from the potential enemy within, to degrade and destroy ISIS.
But are they helping the Australian military campaign, or helping the ISIS recruitment campaign?
A look at the language used by the ISIS recruiters and the language used by Islamophobes bear chilling similarities. Both tell their young male Muslim targets: you are unloved and unwelcome in the West.
The official ISIS recruitment videos use cinematic quality and anthemic music. They show revelling recruits singing and applauding, akin to a campfire celebration. It tries to seduce young men who aspire to be warriors.
The Australian, British and other Western recruits who speak on these slick videos tell their Muslim targets that they understand their alienation. “For all my brothers living in the West, I know how you feel … you feel depressed … the cure for the depression is jihad.”
They appeal to a sense of belonging “from a Muslim brother’s heart to another brother’s heart.” They use expressions such as “finally among your people.”
The recruitment videos tap into victimhood and injustice, ironically referring to children who are beheaded for being Muslim and conjuring “Palestine pounded” after the “Jews have taken it.” It implores its profiled targets to “look and see and wake up and understand why this is happening.”

Australian Muslims should not be seduced by this allure and would not relate to the identity crisis of the recruits.

But there are Australian media outlets giving oxygen to the same lethal messages.
They are online and on toxic talkback, amplifying venom that was once deemed bigoted. The war against ISIS overseas has unleashed a war against Islam locally. It appears that the factual filters are off and so are the boxing gloves.
Just on one site, the comments called for rounding up, deporting and banning Muslims. They competed for the most despicable descriptors from Satanists to a-holes, to evil, to rotten, to barbaric to flea-ridden camel jockeys. They refer to the prophet as twisted and the Koran as a comic book.
Any Muslim reading these rants may realise that they reinforce the message of the ISIS recruiters.
When local Muslim speakers protest that “we have been victimised for years and years,” he is again echoing the propaganda of the ISIS recruiters.
These verbal messages are reinforced with actions, as captured on the Islamophobia Register Australia. Some of these hate-based crimes include attacks on the most visible Muslims, women in hijabs, as well as vandalism on mosques and a knife-threat at an Islamic school. There are also death threats to Muslim leaders including the Grand Mufti, which have been reported to police.

Senator Jacqui Lambie
Even from the chambers of federal parliament, there are calls by Senator Jacqui Lambie and Senator Cory Bernardi to ban the burqa, despite no shred of evidence linking this face covering to security issues. They probably meant the niqab where the eyes are uncovered, as burqas are worn in Afghanistan, not Australia. Moreover, the proposed private member’s bill may breach section 116 of our constitution: “the Commonwealth shall not make any law … for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion.”
The (mis)appropriation of all Muslims into one dangerous basket puts all adherents of Islam on a scaled continuum as pre-disposed to violent extremism and ISIS sympathisers under cover.
But the cumulative effect of such vigilantes and hysteria can have the exact opposite result.
It can remind Muslims that they are unwelcome, unAustralian, never one of us.
Some who feel insulted and intimidated by the bombardment of bigotry may resort to the register, the police and the relevant authorities. Some will try to ignore it and take precautions to keep their families safe by minimising public appearances (shopping centres, crowds, parks), hence restricting their freedom of movement. The older generation would have experienced a similar ‘open season’ during the 1991 war on Iraq and the 2001 war on terror.
But the younger generation may be both alert and alarmed. Some young males may already feel angry, for various sociological reasons. They may be ignorant about their own religion and may be susceptible to the beck and call of ISIS who would be rubbing their hands: “See – we told you! The West hates you. You are a victim. You are depressed. Come to your brothers where you belong.”
Ironically, the Islamophobia may drive these Muslims towards the margins of society, towards radicalisation, towards the ISIS enemy. Using a migration paradigm, the Islamophobes are creating the push factor which feeds into the ISIS pull factor.
Perhaps we need to deploy an Operation Hammerhead to counter these vigilantes. They are not making Australia safer, but helping their enemy, by default.
The front line of defence has often been the very people that they are targeting: Muslims who have risked their own safety to tip-off police about suspects. Whoever endangers Australia obviously endangers these families and also endangers the long term reputation of their community.
While the vigilantes aid and abet ISIS, the Grand Mufti Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohammed has denounced ISIS and their recent fatwa as committing crimes against humanity and sins against God.
So who is really degrading ISIS and who is feeding them with free recruits?

*Joseph Wakim OAM is the author of ‘Sorry We Have No Space’ (2013). He is an independent writer who has had over 500 opinion columns published in all major newspapers for over 20 years. He is the Founder of Australian Arabic Council and a Former Multicultural Affairs Commissioner. He blogs at
and is on twitter @WakimJ