It really frustrates me when people make sweeping statements about the relationship between the plight of the rioters in Paris at the moment and the issues about Islamic fundamentalism and the supposed “credible threat” of terrorism facing the world today. Just because the dominant religion of those involved in the street riots in Paris are Muslim does NOT mean this is indicative of the kind of action that will take place in Australia, or indeed anywhere else, in coming days, weeks, months or even years.
First of all, the reasons why these minorities are rioting is because of poverty, rampant unemployment (around 30-40% of young people), prejudice (from the local populace) and alleged police brutality. Time Magazine has a succinct analysis of the situation in Clichy-sous-bois. Algerian immigrants to France have been poorly accommodated by a system which only has the rhetoric of freedom, equality and brotherhood (Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité) and little proof of these ideals. Just because the people involved are Muslims, this is NOT grounds to suspect involvement with a world-wide Islamic terrorism threat.
Besides anything else, these people are FAR too poor to be involved in any such threat. Terrorism isn’t so ‘grassroots’ as the Parisian action has been. It bears far more similarity to the riots at Redfern in Sydney than any serious or credible terrorist threat.
Speaking of which, whilst I certainly do not advocate all commentary therein, the Weekend Australian has a series of interesting articles on the situation arising from the passing of “emergency” terrorism protection laws in Parliament last week. The first article notes a rift forming between police forces and ASIO about the declaration of any supposed terrorism threat, there are stories about increased risks of terrorist action in Indonesia, and there is even an editorial opinion piece about the need for new anti-terrorist laws. But probably the best article of all is in the Feature section from Cameron Stewart, who dares to suggest that Prime Minister Howard had no right to announce any “credible threat” without being specific about those threats. The opportunistic manner in which such annoucements were made to divert attention from Industrial Relations reforms and to push through anti-terrorism laws without Senate debate was, frankly, irresponsible and unjustifiable.
Much like the Iraq War, really.
But that aside, the similarity between Paris riots reporting and anti-terrorism legislation is in terms of mass ignorance. Interpreting the issues in Paris as an archetype for global small scale terrorist actions is completely (and perhaps wilfully) misunderstanding the true issues at play. Similarly, using a sweeping announcement of a possible terrorist threat as grounds to enact legislation against terrorist activities without providing grounds for such laws is a wilfil act of deception, obfuscation, and inveiglement.
But extraordinarily, Howard is once again getting away with it all. I suppose next we will be assuming that arguments at the footy are indicative of future acts of terrorism – if, of course, the dissenters are Muslim.