Religious leaders in Australia appeal for calm
ISLAMIC and Christian leaders in Australia have called for “community harmony” following a spate of anti-Muslim and anti-Christian incidents, including attacks on mosques, threats to Christian schools and a pig’s head impaled on a cross.
A Facebook page called Islamophobia Register Australia, set up on Sept 16, has recorded threats against at least four mosques and incidents of cars spray-painted with threats.
“A number of women, particularly in hijab, and children have been verbally abused and threatened,” said Ms Mariam Veiszadeh, a spokesman for the page.
Meanwhile, some Christian schools and churches have reported threats from young men bearing Islamic flags and threatening them with “slaughter”.
The tensions follow the nation’s largest counter-terrorism operation last week, which exposed an alleged plot to conduct filmed beheadings in Sydney.
Terror suspect Abdul Numan Haider was shot in Melbourne on Tuesday while allegedly planning to behead police officers and drape them in an Islamic flag. The 18-year-old stabbed two policemen before he was shot dead.
Security agencies have warned of the threat from some 60 Australians who have travelled to join the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and other militant groups.
The government said the threat from ISIS, which called this week for Muslims to indiscriminately kill Australians, was “genuine”.
The growing tensions prompted Christian and Muslim leaders to call for restraint yesterday. The nation’s most senior Islamic leader, the Grand Mufti of Australia, Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohamed, said the ISIS call to target Australia “has no religious authority”.
Leaders from the Sunni and Shi’ite Muslim, Catholic and Anglican communities met in Sydney and called for calm.
The government yesterday also introduced anti-terrorism measures to expand the powers of security agencies, along with a controversial law to ban people from travelling to “no-go zones”.
This could see Australians jailed for 10 years if they cannot point to a legitimate reason for their trips to certain countries.