Today, I saw an interview with Rukmini Callimachi1, a Romanian-American journalist for the New York Times. She has been a reporter for 20 years and has produced a stunning 10 part podcast entitled ‘Caliphate’ on Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). For this, she developed a relationship with a Canadian former jihadi, who called himself Abu Huzaifa. This person gave her details of his time in Syria and life inside ISIS, the murders and the beatings he committed. He was the son of Pakistani immigrants and according to Callimachi, he “did not find his place in the world’ and did not find anything for which he had a passion. On top of that she said, he was “an awkward kid, he doesn’t have a lot of friends” and was “not very good at school”. Compassion for the brutalisation of children in Syria eventually led him to chatrooms and it was these that led to him joining IS2.
Callimachi said that “One of the ways ISIS thrives, is they are trying to eliminate the grey space, and the grey space is the areas of the world where moderate Muslims are able to live in harmony with other people. They [ISIS] want to create this complete cleavage where there is Islam on one side and every other religion on the other. And so, what is happening now, where Muslims are being attacked…all of that helps ISIS; it helps them. It makes moderate Muslims, who are not the enemy, feel as if they are targeted. So, when we talk about the human connection, I think that is something that all of us can do [is to] to make sure our Muslim neighbours feel at home and feel welcome.”1
So what are we to make of Prime Minister Scott Morrison who, in response to the Bourke Street attack, brought out the dog whistle and effectively blamed the Muslim community for not coming forward?3. A very cynical person might think that assisting ISIS by attacking moderate Muslims in Australia was a ploy by Morrison to ingratiate himself with some of the far-right Liberals who have deserted to One Notion and the Australian Conservatives, despite advice from ASIO not to do so. Less cynical people are more likely to attribute such assistance to Morrison’s stupidity, instances of which are not uncommon. Having a Prime Minister capable of assisting ISIS in either way is dangerous.