“People are tired … of some parts of the media and the political class not calling it how it is … I think generally there is a theological poverty in public discussion about the roots of these terrorist acts.”

That was the member for Canning, Andrew Hastie, speaking on the weekend in defence of his colleague Josh Frydenberg, who has launched a renewed attack on the Grand Mufti of Australia for allegedly not condemning the Paris attacks.

We agree with Hastie — the media should be discussing the root cause of terrorist acts.

What does the CIA think is the root cause of terrorist acts? Here’s director John Brennan, earlier this year:

“Dealing with some of these problems in the Middle East… we have to recognize that sometimes our engagement and direct involvement will stimulate and spur additional threats to our national security interests.”

And here’s the former head of MI5, explaining the 2005 London bombings to the Chilcott inquiry:

“Our involvement in Iraq radicalised, for want of a better word, a whole generation of young people, some British citizens – not a whole generation, a few among a generation – who …  saw our involvement in Iraq, on top of our involvement in Afghanistan, as being an attack on Islam…”

And here’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, discussing whether a western invasion would address the problem of Islamic State:

“The presence of foreign armies in that theatre at the present time would be counterproductive given the lessons of history, relatively recent history… when you look at Daesh or ISIL, its base is a Sunni population that has felt disenfranchised or oppressed in Syria — and with very good reason and also has felt left out of the new government in Iraq.”

The root causes of terrorism lie at least partly in Western interventions in the Middle East and disenfranchisement and oppression — discussing terrorism through a “theological” lens is part of the problem, not the solution. As for the views of Australia’s Grand Mufti, Dr Ibrahim Mohamed, this is what he actually said about the Paris attacks:

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, families and people of Paris and Beirut at this time of unspeakable horror. We will continually stand united in peace with them against such heinous attacks of cowardice. There are no words to truly describe the devastation of these acts …”

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey