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Feb 13, 2009

Forest jihad is just another 'us and them' angle

Even as the search for bodies continues in the Victorian firezone, some people are searching for the “us and them” angle. Muslims have come to expect that they will be stigamised for any crime commited by any Muslim anywhere. But this week's speculation by some media and internet “commentators” about “forest jihad” has reached a new low, writes Shakira Hussein.

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Every so often, I have a naïve moment in which I think that an overwhelming disaster will prompt people to lay aside their differences and come together to face of a common tragedy.

But apparently not. Even as the search for bodies continues in the Victorian firezone, some people are searching for the “us and them” angle. Muslims have come to expect that they will be stigamised for any crime commited by any Muslim anywhere. But this week’s speculation by some media and internet “commentators” about “forest jihad” has reached a new low.

This speculation is based on reports last year that an extremist Islamic website had called for “forest jihad”. The fascist British National Party poses the “question” “Australian Death Fire: was it jihad?”. The media finger-pointing has been less direct, more “might-have-done-it, will-be-getting-ideas-from-it, who-knows-but-I-wouldn’t-trust-them-with-a-match”.

Fox News quoted various “experts” as saying that Islamic extremists would be “watching” the fires carefully, and getting ideas. “Expert” Steve Emerson said that militants “could” light wildfires, just as they “could” poison food supplies

As Islamophobiawatch points out, this is the same Steve Emerson who said that the 1995 Oklahoma bombing showed a “Middle Eastern trait” because it aimed to kill a lot of people — an aim that the hypothetical “Middle Easterners” turned out to share with Timothy McVeigh.

And (as reported in Crikey), Piers Akerman proved yet again that there is no dog-whistle so filthy that he won’t raise it to his lips. His column describing arson as terrorism did not go so far as to blame Muslims for the tragedy in Victoria, but the comments on his blog show that his readers (both admirers and critics) certainly heard the whistle.

On this occasion, Andrew Bolt showed greater civic responsibilty than Akerman (or, in the words of blogger Sheik Yermani, Bolt “chickened out“), telling readers of his blog that he would not post any comments that pointed the finger at Muslims. So maybe the disaster, and the subsequent finger-pointing, is bringing people together after all. It isn’t often that I have a kind word to say about Andrew Bolt.

Police Superintendent Ross McNeill was categorical in dismissing the “forest jihad” theory, telling AFP “None whatsoever, absolutely nothing, zero. We usually rank possibilities on a scale of zero to ten — this would be on a negative scale.”

That would be “no”, then.

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5 comments

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5 thoughts on “Forest jihad is just another ‘us and them’ angle

  1. Michael

    I have to say when i saw that article i cringed. It was a pathetic way for Fox news to pull the Muslim card out again. Since when has anybody that works at Fox News been an expert on anything??? Fox news and all Rupert Murdoch publications are a joke. The sooner Murdoch and his sheep are gone the better i feel. Muslims unfortunately will keep getting blamed for everything because it sells papers and makes money. They always point out the muslim extremists who have carried out terror attacks but what about GW Bush who i feel was the biggest terrorist of the last 50 years. He managerd to destroy a whole country where thousands have been killed. I am not a muslim but i am too am sick of the crap that has been put on them because every muslim i have met has been a fantastic person. Many are my everyday friends too.

  2. K

    Forest Jihad…? lol. Perhaps if we carved the image of the prophet onto random trees, they might be less likely to be jihaded to death, presuming here that your friendly neighbourhood muslim extremist doesn’t want to burn the image of the prophet, albeit the existence of such image already a no no.

  3. Irf

    In the crazy world of conspiratorial nutters, even “no” can mean “yes”.

  4. irf

    Terrorist attacs have also been undertaken by non-Islamic extremists across the world, as well as by state actors. Most people are aware of this, though there are a few people whose only exposure to news is via FoxNews.

    If we create an environment where we hold all Muslims suspect for each bushfire (apart from those we deem “moderate” enough), we’ll be making life very easy for al-Qaeda recruiters.

  5. steve martin

    It’s a fair point about Islamophobia, but it doesn’t alter the fact that there have terrorist attacks have been undertaken by Islamic extremists in the USA, UK, Spain and Bali, not to mention the Middle East, India and Pakistan.
    In Australia the easiest, most effective.terror tactic would be to light fires on a day of extreme fire danger. But not in this case. Terror attacks are only effective if publicized by the perpetrator,. and no one has claimed responsibility for these fires which appear to have been lit by home grown pyromaniacs.

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