Don’t condemn all for one man’s actions

THE YOUNG community is facing a big test after the arrest of a local man on terrorism charges this week with two clear sides developing arguments.

One argument developing is that Muslim's cannot be trusted, they are all bad and with so many in our town, it was only a matter of time before trouble raised its head.

The other point put forward is that hatred is not the way to handle this situation and one man's actions should not condemn the entire town's Muslim population.

I am new to town but one of the things I immediately liked when I arrived was how tolerant the community seemed to be.

The first person who served me at the local supermarket was wearing a hijab and judging by the friendly conversation she had with the two people she served before me, her presence appeared to be of no negative consequence to anyone.

The town I had just moved from was very divided on the issue of welcoming refugees into their town because they may be Muslim and they may bring trouble.

Young looked to be different, more open, more accepting, my wife and I agreed.

I understand fear, it is a normal human emotion, but in this case, as the Australian Federal Police have been at pains to tell us, this one man is solely responsible for the actions he was charged with, and they have had him under very close surveillance for at least 18 months.

The discussions we at the Witness have had with the AFP in the last few days solidifies my belief they had this situation under control and the members of the Young community were never in any danger.

Some in our community have asked, what took the AFP so long to arrest Haisem Zahab?

The simple answer is they wanted to make sure they had a very solid case before proceeding, I am sure the AFP had public safety foremost in their minds at all times. 

Spreading hatred and making comments like, “deport them all, they’re all terrorists” does no good for our community, they only play into the Islamic State’s hands.

They want people all over the world to fear them. They want you to get angry and for all of us, even in small country towns like Young, to become hostile.

It has been well documented that it is ISIS' strategy to divide the world into a Muslims versus the rest mentality.

The hope of the Islamic State is that it will be easier to radicalise moderate Muslim’s by eventually forcing them to believe the only option is for them to support ISIS.

They have declared they believe there is no reason for Muslim’s to question that the world has split into two camps, one for the people of faith, the other for the people of disbelief, all in preparation for the final great war.

They want to start a global war between Muslims and everyone else. They want communities here in Australia and elsewhere to turn on each other.

My message to the community of Young is to not let them win.

Do not let the few manipulate the many.

Our community needs to unite because that is exactly what ISIL don't want, let us not play into their hands.

So if you're preaching hate at a time when what we need is love, tolerance and understanding then you're helping ISIL, they have told us that in pretty clear terms.

If you are someone on Facebook, Twitter or any other social media and you are sprouting angry, hateful diatribes then you are actually helping ISIL in their quest to divide us, you may not think you are, but you are, they want you to do it, it's like a schoolyard dare, but on a much bigger scale.

The words of Local police Superintendent Christopher Schilt sum it up nicely. As do the words of Young local Mostapha Ali.

Superintendent Schilt said Young is a strong and resilient community whose strength comes from acceptance and unity.

"The allegations in this current investigation relate to the actions of an individual and it is important that we recognise that the Police share a common goal with the community. That goal is the maintenance of safety and the enhancement of our strong relationships,” he said.

Mr Ali said the arrest was a shock to the whole community.

“After living in Young all my life and having many good friends within the town I hope that this one individual's actions don’t make some people think all Muslims are all like that,” he said.

“Muslim’s in the community are against this sort of thing just as much as anyone else.”

Craig Thomson – Editor