The debate on whether to ban the face covering has reached a point where there is talk of introducing a private members’ bill to ban it.
First and foremost I want to mention that as a Muslim, I support the bill.
Should the bill be designed only to help improve national security and to prevent terrorist attacks, then most Muslims would welcome the ban.
My concern is that members who introduced and support the ban have done so, to inflame islamophobia for electoral gains.
The reason I support the ban is as follows:
• Under the current circumstances of high extremism and high security scare of terrorist attacks on home soil, the ban could help in preventing security scare and calm fear in the community. It will help security agencies monitor extremists and might prevent attacks.
• Contrary to claims made by extremists, the burqa and the niqab are not part of the original teachings of Islam.
• There is no doubt that wearing the burqa or the niqab is an indication of extreme conservative ideology. Almost all terrorists arrested and convicted of terrorism-related charges believe so and have their female family members wearing this kind of face covering.
Having said this, I do believe the ban itself won’t bring security to this nation nor it will reduce the chance of terrorist attacks. This ban should be part of a wide-range strategy to fight extremism.
Politicians who are using the ban to stir islamophobia will in fact achieve the opposite. This ban and the growing islamophobia that accompany the debate will be used by extreme organisations to lure more youth into the rhetoric of hate. This will serve as golden opportunity for extreme organisations to recruit more terrorists.
What is more concerning is that political parties are talking tough on fighting extremism but their actions show quite the opposite.
For the last 3 years, major political parties were talking tough on fighting extremism, but were sending the opposite message by siding with terrorist organisations in Syria.
Even various local governments and major political parties are still to this day, strengthening their ties with local extreme organisations by increasing funding and inviting these organisations to all kind of consultations and events. At the same time, genuine and fierce anti-extremist organisations and individuals are still ignored and deprived of any funding.
While I and many other Muslims support the ban, we would be however reluctant to publicly support it for the above mentioned reasons. We are concerned the ban, together with other rhetoric, is designed to stir more Islamophobia in the society. With no clear de-radicalisation plan, the effect of our support to such ban will have many negative impacts.
I and many in the community welcome any engagement with any political party or group to discuss the effectiveness of such move on de-radicalising of our youth. We also are very open to cooperate with these politicians to combine efforts to fight against extremism.
The majority of Muslims in Australia have a deep feeling of belonging to this nation and share a deep fear of possible terrorist attacks. Many Muslims, including myself, were victims of attacks by extremists. We need to deal with this issue with a lot of sensitivity and not stir up more Islamophobia.
Politics of mere populism will not make Australia immune to terror attacks, quite the contrary. The same policies in France resulted in more terrorism and insecurity.