Opinion: Government Must Earn Trust of Muslims to Receive Their Help in Countering Terrorism

June 3, 2004

Source: Muslim Wake Up


On June 3, 2004 Muslim Wake Up ran an editorial piece by Dr. Pete Lentini, Co-Convenor of the Global Terrorism Research Unit and Head of the School of Political and Social Inquiry, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia, on the relationship between the Australian government and the country's Muslims. He writes, "In both circumstances [that Lentini describes in his article] Australian Muslims turned to Australian institutions in the hope of maintaining civic harmony. Each case involved Australian Muslims working within existing political and legal structures. They approached Australian intelligence services and the courts and exercised their rights and duties as Australian citizens. However, in both instances, Australian officials have snubbed them. These incidents could complicate the relationship between Australia’s Muslims and Australian political and legal institutions. The combination of institutional arrogance and indifference, increased surveillance on Australia’s Muslims, the memories of the ASIO and AFP raids on Australian Muslim homes in the aftermath of the Bali bombings, and the Australian Government’s participation in a military conflict which generates fellow Muslim casualties, may reduce Australian Muslims’ faith in the country’s politicians’ and institutions’ abilities to protect them and maintain their rights and dignity. In combating Islamist terrorism, Anti-Terror Coalition partners need the cooperation of their countries’ Muslim citizens. This can only be earned if Muslims feel that they can trust their politicians and political institutions. When Muslims reach out to their state to use political and legal institutions both to protect and to participate in their society, they expect to be taken seriously and with proper respect. The irresponsible way ASIO and the Treasurer have responded to Australian Muslims’ recent attempts to participate in civil society can only set back further the state’s relationship with Muslim citizens. In the long run it could create further obstacles in successfully conducting a war on terrorism and establishing a society in which all citizens feel they are treated equally and equitably."