The revelations in the media of AFP agent Kemuel Lam Paktsun that the AFP were under instruction to charge as many suspects as possible to “test” the new terrorism powers have finally vindicated community concerns about the practices of this federal government when it comes to Islam and Muslims in Australia.

As a former taxation officer, it was not uncommon for us to agree with a good corporate citizen to test the law. In such cases, we would issue an assessment for one dollar and then let the court decide whether we are being overzealous in protecting the revenue or whether we are correct. A one dollar assessment does not burden a company nor place it under a cloud of a potential hefty payout. In these cases, it is business as usual for everyone and it was clear to all concerned that the law was being tested.

There was no hubris, no cover ups, no pretensions, no hardships and most importantly, no media hype or political mileage in the way we used to do things in tax, but when it comes to people’s liberty and policing and security matters, this system of testing that may be good for lawyers will not work in a civilised society. Had those incarcerated been fair skinned Anglo Aussies, one wonders whether the fears that have led us to so easily and unquestioningly toe the government line would have occurred.

The arrests and five week incarcerations of Izhar ul Haq took place in 2004. It was in the face of this type of case and the earlier arrests of people like Zac Mallah and others that led people like myself and the then Mufti of Australia to be very critical of the Muslim Community Reference Group.

Even though Alhilali was nominated as a member of the 2005 post London bombing established group as he was in favour then for risking life and limb to rescue Australian hostage in Iraq Douglas Wood, he did not attend one single meeting. He and I saw this as a group that was brought together to smile and nod their heads as the government does what it likes and sell us actions and policies “in the best interest” of the Muslim community and broader Australian society. And sell us they did, to the tune of nearly half a billion dollars.

Today, two years later, we have the admission that I had flagged years earlier with every such arrest, that the government was testing its new police powers. These tests, like s-x, may be fine when they are consensual, like in the taxation example I gave earlier, but when it comes to taking away people’s liberty and solitary incarceration and the hurt and suffering to individuals, families and communities, it becomes like the vilest form of r-pe, it is the r-pe of an entire religion by politicians who had long ago lost their consciences.

Ten days to a federal election, will we ever learn?

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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