Reflecting on more than 20 years of the securitisation of Islam and Muslims
Recently, the federal Labor party quietly introduced a law to ban the Nazi Swastika as it is an extremist symbol, and the law also includes a ban on the Islamic State (IS) flag. The prohibition on the latter is problematic, as the flag contains the Shahada (profession of faith) – one of the five pillars of Islam – and the law will encompass symbols that are ‘likely to be confused’ with the IS flag. As such, the law potentially criminalises the display of a sacred tenet in Islam.
Further, as of 2021 there were already 92 counter-terrorism laws introduced post-9/11 making the program more robust than many of its Western counterparts, and these, despite being race-neutral in tone, have disproportionately targeted Muslim communities.
Therefore, this recent development begs the question: what is the place of Islam in the Australian imaginary, given that it continues to be securitised more than 20 years after 9/11?
Lending force to this question is the fact that ASIO in 2021 changed how it categorised terrorism threats, shelving ‘Islamic terrorism’ in favour of ‘ideologically and religiously motivated violent extremism’, due to recognition that the threat of an Islamic terrorist attack was ‘comparatively small’ and that the most pressing security concern was the rise of right-wing extremist groups.
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