Spot the contradiction in this report from this morning’s Australian
on growing support for Al-Qa’eda and its allies in south-east Asia.
First, quoting the Australian Federal Police “counter-terrorism
manager” Ben McDevitt: “It seems more likely than not that Islamist
terrorism in Southeast Asia will impact on the region for at least the
next decade.”

Then, three paragraphs later: “He said claims that
the war on terror was actually a war on Islam appeared to have found
favour in the region.”

Why should McDevitt (or anyone else) be
surprised that terrorists think we’re engaged in a war against Islam,
when, by using the word “Islamist,” he’s just characterised it that way
himself?

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Imagine if we took to describing fringe groups of
Christian fundamentalists – for example, people who bomb abortion
clinics in America – as “Christianist.” No, you can’t imagine it; it’s
too big a leap. (A quick check on the internet, however, will reveal
that some anti-Semitic hate groups are quite fond of the term “Jewist.”)

If
even one tenth of the effort that goes into devising new police powers
instead went into just thinking about how we relate to the Muslim
world, maybe the “war on terror” would not be looking like the endless
nightmare that it is.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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