Member for Calwell Maria Vamvakinou responds to the Paris attacks and warns against tarring all Muslims with the same brush
Terrorist attacks carried out by members of extremist group IS in Paris and Beirut last week have refuelled concerning sentiments of Islamophobia across Australia.
Former One Nation leader Pauline Hanson came under fire after appearing on the Nine Network’s Weekend Today program, declaring that Australia should close its borders to incoming Muslim refugees who could be “ISIS plants”.
She went on to address Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, claiming that Australians didn’t want more Muslim refugees Down Under.
But according to Labor MP Maria Vamvakinou, such public statements are precisely what should be avoided, and says the language public figures employ is crucial.
“It’s important that people in public don’t say inflammatory things that might further reaffirm in the minds of some people that they’re not wanted,” said the member for Calwell, whose electorate has the largest Muslim population in Victoria.
Following the news of the attacks in Paris, and the 136 deaths of innocent civilians, the sentiment across the Muslim community has been one of outrage and condemnation.
“These atrocities are committed in the name of Islam, and being a community that has a very high number of people of Muslim faith, it’s their own faith that’s always brought into question by these acts of terror.”
it’s their own faith that’s always brought into question by these acts of terror.”
Instead, the MP emphasises the need for Australians to try and understand the “narrative” behind the events, which is what she believes the Grand Mufti of Australia, Ibrahim Abu Mohammed was trying to communicate in his recent statement following the attacks.
Otherwise there’s the concern that an entire community could be “tarred with the same brush”, which has seen a number of attacks committed against innocent Muslims, particularly women wearing the hijab.
It is this kind of behaviour that, Ms Vamvakinou says can lead people to feel isolated, namely young vulnerable people who are in the process of forming their identity.
With ISIS using social media as a key tool in its recruitment and radicalisation process, the level of interaction can often times prove to be a challenge for communities and families to monitor.
Which is why she advocates de-radicalisation programs, having proven to be effective in both Germany and Sweden.
“The only way it’s going to be tackled is when you’ve got a good picture of what’s being said, what are people feeling, and where the difficulties.
“I think we’re very able to respond to them in this country. We have the infrastructure and we have the know how to do that,” said Ms Vamvakinou.
Mr Turnbull appears to be on a similar page. After meeting with President Barack Obama and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, the PM communicated that he is opposed to foreign invasion, and instead is pushing for compromise and pragmatism.
Despite France’s decision to launch a series of airstrikes on the ISIL-held Syrian city of Raqqa on Monday, Mr Turnbull says a political solution is required, rather than a military invasion, which he believes would be counter-productive.
On Monday night, Independent Senator Nick Xenophon expressed a similar sentiment on Q&A.
“We must acknowledge that … what happened in Iraq was a bloody mess. What we have been doing to date has not been working – we’ve actually seemed to have strengthened ISIS and strengthened the terrorists,” he said.
But for the Calwell representative, the only way to come to a proper solution is through “understanding”.
“Prevention is very important, so that’s what we need to do. When you know what you’re up against and you know what’s being said, then people and communities can respond to it,” she said.
“We’re a multicultural society, we’ve dealt with diversity for decades. We need to give the community an understanding that what happened in Paris, or what’s happened in the name of Islam, doesn’t mean that every person who is a Muslim thinks in the same way.”
Meanwhile, the man alleged to have been behind the Paris attacks, 27-year-old Abdelhamid Abaaoud, has been shot dead during a police raid in a flat in Saint-Denis.
Source: The Australian, news.com.au