A “deradicalisation” initiative by the Alfred Deakin Institute of Citizenship and Globalisation at Deakin University has fallen flat after it was thoroughly rejected by multiple Muslim Students’ Associations in Victoria.
The #myjihad program sought to replicate a US campaign that attempted to redefine “jihad” to counter alleged “extremism”.
Five Muslim Students’ Associations from premier universities in Victoria have stopped the campaign in its tracks after releasing a collective statement refusing to participate.
The Islamic societies of La Trobe, Monash, Swinburne, RMIT and Deakin University were all signatories to the statement which rejected the advances of the Alfred-Deakin Institute.
The statement, hosted on the Muslim Students’ Association of Victoria’s Facebook page, made clear that no future meetings on the #myjihad campaign will be attended as it is a “deliberate misrepresentation of Islam for a politicised CVE [counter violent extremism] agenda.”
Deakin University’s courting of Muslim Students’ Associations was labelled “exploitative” and was “comprehensively rejected” as it “seeks to undermine core Islamic ideas and values”.
The statement went on to denounce the “undefined and politically expedient use of the words ‘radicalisation’ and ‘extremism’ to criminalise legitimate political discourse and critique of the Government’s policies by members of the Muslim community.”
A call was issued to university student societies to beware of, reject and expose attempts to be used for “government intervention programs on the false pretext of CVE.”
This stand by MSA’s in Victoria found wide spread support among Muslims who praised it as much needed and courageous stand against unwarranted government intervention.
Deakin University “counter-terrorism” professor Greg Barton alleged to know the views of Muslims better than the MSAs claiming that the statement did not represent the views of most Muslim students and that opposing the #myjihad program was unhelpful.
“Maybe two years ago, before the rise of IS, this problem of radicalisation was merely the stuff of academic conversations but now this is a real problem and there is real concern among Muslim communities that their children are being targeted by predatory recruiters,” he alleged.
A president of one of the signatory MSAs told GIMC that Muslim student societies were being instrumentalised in the government’s duplicitous war on terror agenda through campaigns such as this.
“Students are simply fed up with being treated like cheap tools in government propaganda that aims to dump the problem of extremism and terrorism on to Islam and Muslims,” he said.
“Campaigns like #myjihad reinforce a false narrative that requires Muslims to ‘reclaim’ Islam from ‘extremists’, that we need to somehow reform Islam. The message is clear: Islam and Muslims are the problem. We reject that premise.”
“We re-iterate that this is not about countering extremism. It is about stifling legitimate political debate and critique of government policy. We will not be used as a platform for this.”
He emphasised that Muslims are more than capable of undertaking debates about issues within Islam without government patronage.
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