Peak Muslim bodies lash police, say they were ‘not consulted’ ahead of Sydney terror raids

Headshot of Sarah Blake
Sarah Blake
The Nightly
Police arrested seven teenagers in a series of raids after a stabbing at a Wakeley church.
Police arrested seven teenagers in a series of raids after a stabbing at a Wakeley church. Credit: NSW POLICE/PR IMAGE

A collective of Australia’s peak Muslim bodies have slammed the terror raids of seven teens and young men in the ongoing fallout from the Wakeley church stabbing.

Refuting reports that the community was pre-warned about Wednesday’s 13 raids across western Sydney and Goulburn, the organisations called for “an immediate and thorough inquiry” into the raids.

Five teens were on Thursday charged with terror-related offences connected to material on the phone of the 16-year-old who was charged with stabbing the Christian bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel and priest Isaac Royel during a live-streamed service on April 15.

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Some had “distressing” videos of extremist content including beheadings on their devices, which were seized in the Joint Counter Terrorism Team operation involving ASIO, the AFP and NSW police.

“The recent raids resulting in the arrest of seven minors, coupled with advance media notifications, underscore a concerning pattern of questionable law enforcement tactics,” said the collective of peak organisations including the Australian National Imans Council and Alliance of Australian Muslims.

“Despite reports to the contrary, there was no consultation with the community prior to these operations. The lack of evidence pointing to a concrete threat or plan among these youths, as noted by senior police officials, calls into question both the necessity and the manner of these operations.

“This lack of transparency exacerbates the distress within our community.”

The Muslim leaders also called out “disparities” in how authorities and media label incidences of terrorism and “the problematic and longstanding issue of racial and religious profiling”.

The presumption that terrorism is inherently tied to religion is not only inaccurate but harmful.

“The differing treatments of two recent violent incidents — the senseless stabbing deaths at Bondi Junction and the tragic event at Wakeley Church — are stark,” they said in the statement, released on Friday.

“The Bondi incident was quickly deemed a mental health issue, while the Wakeley Church attack was classified as a terrorist act almost immediately. This inconsistency is further exacerbated by the handling of a recent case where an individual left a suspected bomb with a political message outside a home, yet this has not been labelled terrorism.

“Such disparities in response create a perception of a double standard in law enforcement and judicial processes.

“The presumption that terrorism is inherently tied to religion is not only inaccurate but harmful,” they said.

The strongly worded statement also slammed ASIO boss Mike Burgess for his use of “charged language” in his recent warning about the risk to Australians of “religiously motivated Sunni Violent Extremism”.

“This approach undermines social cohesion and perpetuates the stigmatisation of an entire religious group based on the actions of a few,” they said.

Asking for a revision of terrorism laws to remove the classification of “religiously motivated” acts, they said this would “avoid simplistic attributions that target specific communities”.


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