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A way forward following the Parramatta terror incident
An incident was related to Indian Link recently about a visiting Indian religious leader who publicly ridiculed the Hindu tradition of Karva Chauth, in which women observe a day-long fast for the well-being of their husbands. Openly belittling the practice, he went on to list how his own religion was better than the Hindu faith.
He was speaking to a 300-strong congregation, in a suburban Sydney location.
This divisive speech, riddled with hatred, deserved to be condemned, but no one stood up to take this so-called religious leader to task. And so he got the oxygen to spew more of his disruptive ideas in the future.
The reader who shared this experience never went back to the place of worship.
The recent terrorism incident in Parramatta where 15-year-old Farhad Khalil Mohammad Jabar chanted Islamic slogans, killed police employee Curtis Cheng and then fired shots at other police officers before being gunned down himself, has shocked the nation. As we go to print, the police are conducting raids around Sydney’s west where other teenagers have been taken in for questioning over their involvement in this terrorist incident.
While the investigation is ongoing, the usual search for answers has begun.
The issue of youth radicalisation has been on the table for the past few years and the government has spoken often about the emerging problem. But in light of the recent incident, the current status is that we have failed to make deep inroads in this area.
Perhaps the new government needs to go back to the drawing board and review its quantum of success and its degrees of failure.
The success part will be difficult to quantify, but from a failure point of view, even one home-grown terrorist incident perpetrated by a radicalised youth is too much. What needs to be asked is, are we as a society connecting with the disfranchised radical youth of today? Is there a vacuum in their minds and hearts which is being taken up by activities which mean harm to our society as a whole? Is there division and disenchantment along religious lines amongst our youth?
One would hope that the answers lie in part with all of us, and the sum of the whole may allow for a positive solution.
It cannot be left to the families alone to reach out to their youth; there has to be an infrastructure around them to allow for positive development. Comments made by the politicians with words such as Team Australia, or the proposed steps to revoke citizenship in case of suspected terrorism, will be counter-productive to the solution.
PM Malcolm Turnbull has often spoken about the responsibility of the media to get the correct message out to the community. It would be good to see more mainstream media take on diverse community involvement. Multicultural broadcaster SBS needs to move into more local production programming with deeper multicultural involvement rather than diversify its food programming. Technology is the key to connecting with the younger generation and SBS needs to work more strategically in this area rather than jukebox-based programming on its digital channels and networks.
The problem of youth radicalisation has raised its ugly head and needs to be tackled strongly. The Australian Strategic Policy Institute provided a series of recommendations earlier this year to steer our youth away from radicalising forces. These include, among others, having open discussions at schools about what is happening in the Middle East and why Australia is there; connecting better with migrant communities and setting guidelines for media reporting about terrorism.
We also need to provide at-risk youth with avenues that will help them get involved in programs, volunteering or mentoring based, that will improve real-life skills and connect them with further education, training or career pathways.