On Melbourne — stray thoughts

So sad.

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You probably know what that represents. One positive element has been that amazing homeless man who steered a shopping trolley at the terrorist!

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As for the terrorist, this is what we know so far. Some of the responses from various quarters have been helpful, some almost certainly not: see Australian Imams and Muslim groups say Scott Morrison’s speech following Friday’s Bourke St mall knife attack went too far.

I see since writing that Scott Morrison has discounted the possible role of mental illness. I suspect that will turn out to be a major factor. One should also note that the vast majority of refugees, Muslim or not, do not figure in terrorist incidents in Australia, other than among the victims.

In my own case I am reflecting on experiences from 2005, when I was still working at Sydney Boys High, which I often called “The Mine” at the time. The Melbourne terrorist, we are told, was 30, so in fact he was the same age as the Muslim students I had to do with back in 2005. He was therefore 10 years old or less when he arrived in Australia during John Howard’s Prime Ministership, and almost certainly did not arrive by boat.

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That is a gathering in the Great Hall at Sydney Boys High in 2005. See my posts from 2009: Some non-fiction read recently 2b – the personal component  and Some non-fiction read recently 2c – tentative conclusions.

This goes back to 2005 and a particularly interesting if controversial event. On the day I was not there, as I had to attend a meeting of ESL teachers at Erskineville – or was it Arncliffe, one of the last such meetings for me as I retired the following year. But I did know all the participants at The Mine end, and I posted on it at the time and the following year. See Salt Mine and Islamic Students7.30 Report: The Mine and the IslamistsThe Mine and the Islamists: cause for concern?. On Floating Life Apr 06 ~ Nov 07 there is also a major entry from April 2006.

What I found yesterday was a video* on YouTube of the complete 2005 Seminar referred to in those entries. The controversy centred on the guest speakers, Sheik Khalid Yassin and Hizb ut-Tahrir’s Wassim Doureihi. These people would fall in one of Michael Burleigh’s inner circles (see previous entry) but not necessarily, of course, into the innermost circle. While I had concerns about the Mine students involved, I very much doubt they would have even considered the innermost circle – quite the opposite in fact. (I also refer to these students in my Cronulla 2005 posts.)…

*That video is no longer accessible, but I have my own copy. More reflections on it:

I am really trying not to sound patronising, because I respect idealism and even cling to some to this day, modified as it might be by experience and knowledge, especially of history.

The young, confronted with a world that all will admit is not the best of all possible worlds, may react with cynicism, apathy, or a deep desire to make a difference. Those who desire to make a difference will soon seek out how to make a difference, and therein is some danger, as well, of course, as much of the hope of the world. Those boys at The Mine, just like their confreres in the rather fundamentalist Christian and Jewish or political activist groups in the school, look for people who offer convincing solutions. Now you have to admit that both those speakers in the 2005 seminar (the video linked from the previous post in this series) are quite excellent public speakers. As a former debating coach I wouldn’t mind having them on my team, and it is no accident that one of the two sixteen year old presenters was indeed a valuable member of his age-group’s debating team, as was the brave young lad in cadet uniform who got up to rebut what he had heard. (The body language going on behind him, if you have seen the video, is interesting; it’s almost as if the presenters wish there was a hook in the wings or a trapdoor under the stage.) That lad, by the way, is now one of my Facebook friends.

… the seminar the previous year directly dealt with the issue of terror. The tactic was definitely not recommended….

My point regarding some of what has been said about Melbourne is to note that there would be those who would see thought crimes in some of what was talked about at SBHS back in 2005 — indeed some did, as you will discover if you diligently follow the links above. However, none of the people involved in those discussions back then have committed acts of terror, though one (Wassim Dourehi) has been accused of radicalism and is almost certainly being monitored.

Looking back, I have no doubt, by the way, that the kinds of views espoused in that 2005 Seminar could lead into very dangerous waters indeed, but on the other hand they have much more in common than many would want to admit with Christian bigots I have heard or read.

Certainty in belief is not a friend!

Related: search this blog under Islam and terror.

And hasn’t it been wonderful that through all Australia and the UK and Europe those great gatherings marking the end of World War 1 passed without a terrorist incident!

Update

Having read the usual suspects in today’s Tele, it seems appropriate to add Curtis Cheng’s son calls for end to political ‘scapegoating’ of Muslims.

Alpha Cheng’s father was shot in cold blood by a 15-year-old Muslim boy, Farhard Jabar, outside the NSW police headquarters in Parramatta in 2015. Two others were jailed for planning the attack and supplying the weapon.

But he said that was no reason to victimise a community.

“I am tired of needing to explain to adults that the actions of these individuals cannot be attributed to an entire group of people. If I, of all people, can think this way, then sure as hell our ‘elected’ representatives can think this way too,” Cheng wrote in an opinion piece in Fairfax Media.

He said if anyone were to believe that all terrorists are Muslim, then “that person could, and should, be me”.

“It would be frighteningly easy – and I choose those words deliberately – to keep indulging this train of thought. It is not that hard, really.

“A Muslim killed my father. His parents were Muslims. He was manipulated by other Muslims. They are related to Muslims. They probably came from a Muslim country. It is all their fault, kick them out, keep them out,” he wrote.

But he said this was the narrative “those who wish to divide us” were trying to push to “victimise and persecute an entire group because of their religious/cultural background”….

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