Wed. May 29th, 2024

‘Outraged’: Muslim groups call for ASIO boss to be sacked following terror charges

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell May17,2024
A coalition of Australian Muslim community leaders is calling for the head of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) to be sacked, accusing law enforcement and security agencies of “extreme prejudice”.
A dozen representatives, including one of the grand muftis of Australia, Riad el-Rifai, gathered on Friday to demand a change in what they believe is an inconsistent application of counterterrorism laws, which unfairly targets Muslims.
The group convened as community frustrations remain high, following a major counterterrorism raid last month.
Following the raid, some Muslim leaders accused ASIO, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and NSW Police of further marginalising young Muslim boys as well as
Standing in solidarity with the leaders were family members of seven teenagers , including family members of the 16-year-old boy who has been charged with stabbing a bishop at an Assyrian Christian Church in Sydney’s southwest.
One of the speakers, Sheikh Wesam Charkawi, said the community was “outraged”.
“The lives of these minors have forever changed and they face severe consequences and prolonged incarcerations,” he said.
“Religious profiling through institutional power is something the community has endured since the so-called war on terrorism.”
An AFP spokesperson told SBS News Australia has “one set of laws that apply to everyone”, and that “we apply those laws equally”.
“When there is an alleged terrorism incident in Australia, the AFP investigates this in a joint taskforce with the relevant state and territory jurisdiction.”
NSW Police told SBS News in a statement that they “do not target an individual based on their gender, sexuality, ethnicity or religion”.
“The priority of the NSW Police Force is the safety and security of the community. When an incident occurs, police investigate the criminal activity and prosecute those responsible.

“NSWPF maintains strong relationships with the many diverse communities across NSW. These relationships are built upon many years of continued engagement and collaboration with all our community, including with our multicultural and multifaith communities.”

Charkawi cited the case of a man who outside the home that had displayed a Palestinian flag late last year in Botany in Sydney’s south but was not charged with terrorism.
He also levelled comments at ASIO director-general Mike Burgess, who last month described “Sunni violent extremism” to be the “greatest religiously motivated violent extremist threat in Australia”.
“It is unacceptable for senior government officials, including law enforcement to make inflammatory comments that further stigmatise and marginalise the Muslim community,” he said.
“For decades the Muslim community has been asked to come forward and condemn. However, this simply pigeonholes the matter of violent extremism to the faith of Islam.”
He said such rhetoric serves to deepen “existing division which perpetuates harmful stereotypes”.
In response to questions about the difference between the “alleged bomb matter in Botany and the incident in Wakeley”, an AFP spokesperson said that, “based on legal advice about the Botany incident, the facts did not meet the elements of a terrorism act or other terrorism offence”.
“The following elements need to exist for a terrorist act under the legislation: there is an action, or a threat of an action, which is not a legitimate form of protest; the action caused death, harm or damage, or would cause these outcomes if it occurred; the action was done with intention to advance a religious, ideological or political cause; and that action was intended to influence or intimidate or coerce, a section of the public or the wider public.”
The spokesperson said that “the action (in Botany) was not intended to intimidate or coerce a section of the public or the wider public”.
“In relation to the alleged stabbing of a bishop earlier this month, the investigation focused on whether the alleged act met the definition of a terrorist act.
“There was an alleged action that was not a legitimate form of protest; the alleged action caused harm; The alleged action was done to advance a religious cause. In court, it will be alleged the 16-year-old boy made a number of religious statements during and after allegedly stabbing the bishop; and that the action intimidated members of a community.”
In his , Burgess explained that, during the Hamas-Israel war, ASIO has “seen attempts by ISIL (the so-called Islamic State) and al-Qaeda to use the conflict to motivate attacks globally”.

Burgess, who has led ASIO since 2019, said the agency remained concerned about lone actors carrying out terrorist acts and acknowledged that “hateful rhetoric has targeted Israel and the Jewish community, as well as Muslim and Palestinian communities”.

Secretary of the Lebanese Muslim Association Gamel Kheir said he hopes comments from the Muslim community will lead to engagement with Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus and ASIO.
He said he urges them to revise the current definition of terrorism.
Terrorism under Australian law is defined as either “religiously-motivated extremist” behaviour or “ideologically-motivated extremist” behaviour.

Muslim groups have long campaigned to remove the religiously-motivated clause.

‘This language has to change’

The leaders also expressed frustration over a perceived expectation from the media to condemn individual acts of alleged perpetrators, including the 16-year-old boy who was shot dead after wielding a knife in Perth’s south last weekend.
Western Australian Police Commissioner Col Blanch told reporters on Sunday the boy was “radicalised” and had been involved in a deradicalisation program for two years. The WA Muslim community had contacted the police after fearing the boy would “commit acts of violence”.
“No other community is asked to condemn an act of an individual, collectively,” Kheir said.
“No other community is forced to say, ‘Do you condemn this act?’ No other community other than ours. This language has to change. It’s not productive for this community nor is it productive for the wider Australian public.”
When asked earlier in the week about calls to change the language used to define terrorism, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese defended the police and ASIO.
“My job is to back up our security agencies and the police and the important work that they do,” Albanese said on Monday.
ASIO was contacted for comment and directed SBS News to its 2021 threat assessment, where it explains how ASIO changed the language it uses to talk about threats it encounters.

SBS News has contacted NSW Premier Chris Minns for comment.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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One thought on “‘Outraged’: Muslim groups call for ASIO boss to be sacked following terror charges”
  1. As an Australian Muslim, I completely support the call for the removal of the ASIO boss. It’s time for accountability and fairness in counterterrorism efforts.

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