By Irfan Yusuf*
Everyone else seems to be talking about Monday night’s terrifying terror mass debate on Q&A between the silly Senator and zany Zaky.
What started out as a nervous question descended into a veritable scene from Dum & Dumber 5. And if you wait 12 months to read the transcript, you probably will be confused on who was dumber.
The tabloids and The Australian have been running hot with Zaky Mallah’s ridiculous claim on Q&A that Muslims might be pushed to go to Syria or Iraq to fight for ISIS thanks to the Coalition’s policy to strip citizenship.
Seriously, who does this kid think he is to make such a claim? How many ordinary Muslims has he spoken to? What research methodology is he following? Has he even done a literature review on the subject?
Despite the Commonwealth legislating new rafts of terror laws every year, each and every successful terror prosecution has involved crucial evidence provided by ordinary blokes and sheilas of the Muslim persuasion.
No matter how much moronic politicians and even more moronic tabloids try to push them into a corner on terror, people from local Muslim communities and congregations have been dobbing in suspicious folk to the police.
And to think Mr Abbott recently said he wanted Muslims to condemn terror like they really meant it.
Mallah was an excitable young fool. But Senator Steve Ciobo is a seasoned political hack who should have known better.
He’s already been in trouble once before for suggesting the then Prime Minister Julia Gillard should have her throat slit www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/reith-echoes-throat-slit-comment-20130611-2o2sf.html.
Now he may have meant it metaphorically, but I’d say his metaphor was up there in the terrorist stakes with Mallah’s moronic figure of speech.
But putting aside Ciobo’s treatment of Ms Gillard’s throat, what he said www.abc.net.au/news/2015-06-23/ciobo-qa/6565434 was perhaps even more scary for more people.
He said that if he was the minister, he would be happy to have Mallah’s citizenship stripped purely on the basis of the offences he pleaded guilty to as part of a plea bargain.
Yes, it is a serious thing to threaten to kill a government officer. Perhaps unprecedented. I doubt any drunken and/or stoned person has ever committed similar acts.
It’s unlikely threats are ever made to AFP officers in the ACT. Canberra clubbers are too nice to make threats of clubbing a law enforcement officer’s face. As are tired travellers upset at having their bags checked at Customs.
Mallah served a couple of months behind bars. But are they serious enough to warrant taking someone’s citizenship away?
Just how cheap is citizenship in Ciobo’s eyes? In Ciobo’s world, citizenship is so cheap that you can lose it for offences that in other contexts might lead to a fine or a suspended sentence.
Ciobo also said that Mallah got off on his terrorism charge ‘on a technicality’. And what was that technicality?
Was it a judge and jury making a decision www.smh.com.au/news/National/Not-a-terrorist-just-an-angry-loner-starved-of-attention/2005/04/06/1112489565806.html after a full trial and having heard all the evidence?
Has the Rule of Law become a mere technicality in the eyes of Australia’s pseudo-conservative politicians?
Ciobo mentioned that the terror legislation was ‘not retrospective’. As any good parliamentary draftsman would know, t is a basic principle of good criminal law drafting practice to avoid retrospective provisions wherever possible.
In other words, don’t punish people for actions which were not as bad as they will be once your new law is passed. Hardly a technicality.
But that probably won’t stop the Abbott government from legislating to strip Australians of their citizenship for past ‘terrorism-related’ actions.
And given that the vast majority of proscribed terrorist organisations have some relation to conflicts involving Muslims, it’s likely that ‘terror-related’ will also mean ‘Muslim-related’.
Just a small technicality.
* Irfan Yusuf is a PhD candidate at the Alfred Deakin Research Institute for Citizenship & Globalisation, Deakin University