The push to target Muslim Children is on in earnest, with police and state government agencies developing an “intervention” model to teach children as young as 8-years old an Islam that has been moulded as per secular dictates.
The youth of any community represent its future. The strength and potential of a community depends on the strength of its youth. It comes as no surprise, then, that a key focus area of the government intervention in the Muslim community is Muslim youth. This has in fact been long on the agenda of the Australian government. We reported on this comprehensively in our 2013 ‘Government Intervention in the Muslim Community’ report. In 2005 the then Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, John Cobb said:
“I have great hopes for our young Australia Muslims to take on leadership roles and build bridges with non-Muslim Australians.”
Brendan Nelson in the same year focused an aggressive message towards Muslim schools and their children, warning Islamic schools that they must teach “Australian values”:
“The Islamic Council and the Islamic schools have been working very hard to teach very good values to their children. We want to make sure that not just those schools, but all schools that educate all Australian children, including Islamic children, are focused on Australian values, to make sure that not perhaps just the students, but also the teachers fully understand our values, our beliefs, and the way we relate to one another, and see our place in the world.”
“If you want to be an Australian, if you want to raise your children in Australia, we fully expect those children to be taught and to accept Australian values and beliefs. We want them to understand our history and our culture, the extent to which we believe in mateship and giving another person a fair go, and basically if people don’t want to support and accept and adopt and teach Australian values then, they should clear off.”
And in 2011 Robert McClelland (Labor), the Attorney-General, stated:
“Our goal is to help members of our communities to be less vulnerable to the process of radicalisation and violent extremism….As a first step, the Government has sought to address some of these issues through our inaugural ‘Youth Mentoring Grants’ program. The grants provide funding for programs that directly support young people away from intolerant and radical ideologies and encourage positive participation in our community. With nearly 100 applications, the Government received overwhelming interest in the program, reflecting the community’s commitment to developing local initiatives to prevent extremism amongst our young people.”
Muslim youth are targeted by government through various means, most prominently through educational institutions such as schools and universities, and through various initiatives such as leadership programs, youth summits, exchange programs, mentoring programs, sporting and cultural activities and interfaith dialogue. Indeed, the vast majority of community projects under the National Action Plan of the Howard and Rudd eras and Building Community Resilience programs of more recent times have focused on youth. Today’s deradicalisation programs will be a mere extension of these, albeit in a more blatant targeting of Islam.
The objectives of these activities are multifarious but at their essence is the aim of making Muslim youth adopt and practice a personal, secularised Islam, whereby they understand Islam as a personal faith, equal with other faiths and subordinate to the prevalent secular democratic system. In turn, the aim is to involve the youth in more “mainstream politics”, sports and culture, diverting them away from key Islamic creedal concepts and actions such as enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong, adopting the concept of one global ummah and working for its interests, Khilafah, accounting the rulers, and presenting Islam as an alternative to the current world order.
CHILDREN as young as eight should be targeted in an anti-radicalisation plan the WA Government is drawing up, a counter-terrorism expert says.
And Muslim leaders, who say they are yet to be consulted, believe a broad, educated approach is needed with no one group singled out.
Police and other State Government agencies are developing an intervention model to “counter violent extremism” and “detect and disrupt the radicalisation of people within the community”, according to WA Police’s latest annual report.
Police Minister Liza Harvey said: “Although there is no specific threat to WA, recent events in the eastern states show how Australia is not immune to radicalisation.”
Anti-terrorism expert Anne Aly, an associate professor at Curtin University, said children needed to be “immunised” against violent extremism.
Teacher training and getting university students involved in solutions should also be considered.
“Around eight years old is when you can start working with children on their moral development,” she said.
“Most young people will come into contact (with violent extremism), because if they’re not out looking for it on the internet, it’s on their TV screen every night, so we need to give them the tools so they can critically analyse and develop a resilience to those influences.”
Dr Aly did not believe mosques should be a focus in the WA model.
“I don’t think in WA we have any firebrand mosques or locales. We have a very different situation to Sydney, for example,” she said.
Earlier this month a 15-year-old boy shot dead police accountant Curtis Cheng outside a Sydney station before officers gunned him down.
Muslim Youth WA president Shameema Kolia said an anti-radicalisation plan in schools did not make sense. Such a program in the UK had been a “complete fail”.
“You’re going to make an assumption that a young child might or might not be radicalised later on in life. These things are proven not to work,” she said.
Imam Burhaan Mehtar, trustee of Masjid Ibrahim mosque in Southern River, said radicalisation, like drugs and alcohol, was a society-wide problem.
“If it’s not done right you’re going to make the Muslim kids feel even more alienated — that just by being Muslim there is something wrong with them,” he said.
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