The article in The Australian “$10m for PM’s Islamic guests” (22 June 2016) has revealed that extremist organisations received more than $10 million in government funding. Unfortunately this report has come a little too late.
This report is the first one to be published since the start of the Syrian crisis and the subsequent significant rise of radicalisation.
Despite inundating media outlets about the apparent complacency of our authorities towards extremist and growing radicalisation, media ignored such information.
The article in The Australian however falls short of telling the full story.
After the Lindt Café terrorist attack, Abbott’s Liberal government consulted with “representatives” of the Muslim community on how to deal with out-of-control radicalisation and the possible imminent threats of terrorist activities in Australia.
Surprisingly, the PM office chose to invite mainly extremists to these consultation rounds. The logic behind this was not clear for us: how would extremists help in fighting extremism? Not only, but it became even more unclear and a little “insane”, when after such consultations, the government announced it would increase the funding for projects to fight extremism.
The government allocated more than $50m for these projects.
Once the funding was made available we expected the government would allocate funds to organisations that were not involved in extremist activities.
The NSW Liberal government also announced increased funding for de-radicalisation projects through different departments, including Multicultural NSW.
Since I am a very well-known Anti-extremism campaigner both on a local and national level, I expected that my organisation, Social Justice Network Inc, which runs many anti radicalisation campaigns, would have been one of the first to receive funding.
We expected to be invited for consultations in regards to the allocation of such funds but we were wrong. This however didn’t deter us from applying.
Social Justice Network applied for a small sum of $25,000 which would have helped cover a project we were running. We conducted several meetings and discussions with community members of different faiths/sects. The aim was to consult with different leaders from Sunni, Shia and Alawi faith to discuss and find a solution to the current tensions in the community.
We also hosted an Iftar. Unfortunately we can’t continue without some funding and all we needed was a small contribution from Multicultural NSW to help continue in our efforts.
The project was rejected for no valid reason despite our well documented solid track history in fighting extremism. We put a lot of effort to start the project and asked for a small amount of money. We received a letter advising us the application was rejected. No valid reasons were given.
Multicultural NSW would not even consider the project due to us not providing a financial statement. Usually financial statements are required only from organisations that received prior funding in order to prove how the funds were spent. Since this was our first request we genuinely believed this was not necessary in our case.
Instead of helping organisations complete their applications, like on many other occasions, Multicultural NSW was quick to reject ours without any warning and without requesting further information or documents.
As you can read from article published in The Australian, governments and funding bodies were providing extremist organisations with large grants and funding. Some of these organisations well-known for their extreme actions receive annually millions of dollars. Some of this money was used to broadcast live lectures of terrorist Anwar AL Awlaki and other preachers of hate.
After rejecting funding for our project, we sought help from our local MP. We contacted Greg Laundy, Liberal MP for Reid, and visited him at his office. I explained to him our concerns about authorities’ complacency towards extremists’ activities and funding. We asked him to help us secure some funding for other Anti-extremism projects. Two years have passed and we are yet to hear the outcome.
Wondering where all this extremism come from? Some of the answers to this question can be found in The Australian.
We hope that our authorities change their course of action before a major terrorist attack occurs.