Senator Mehreen Faruqi has responded to the publication of the report of Aotearoa New Zealand’s Royal Commission of Inquiry into the terrorist attack on Christchurch masjidain on 15 March 2019.
Senator Faruqi is Australia’s first Muslim woman Senator, and the Australian Greens spokesperson for Anti-racism.
Senator Faruqi said:
“The Royal Commission report makes for disturbing reading. While there is still much to digest, a few things are clear at this point.
“This was a terrorist attack committed by an Australian man who the report says was “driven by an extreme right-wing Islamophobic ideology”. Any denial or obfuscation of this simple fact is an insult to the victims.
“The report’s findings and recommendations should be taken with utmost seriousness in Australia, where the terrorist lived for most of his life. There are lessons here for the way we approach terrorism, security, online extremism, racial and religious hatred, social cohesion, and gun control.
“I urge the Prime Minister to engage with the Australian Muslim community and carefully interrogate what needs to change in Australia.
“The terrorist engaged with known far-right and white supremacist groups in Australia, some of which remain active in various forms. One of them forced me to cancel an anti-racism event in Newcastle last year due to their planned disruption. Far-right extremism is not only still present in our country, it is growing.
“Australia is yet to reckon with being the country that raised the Christchurch killer. The government must take responsibility for the rise in right-wing extremism reported by ASIO.
“On the policy front, the report states that New Zealand ‘inappropriately concentrated’ its counter-terrorism efforts on Islamist terrorism while far-right extremism was on the rise across the world. This alarming fact should be recognised in Australia in the context of ASIO’s recent evidence that up to 40 per cent of its counter-terrorism caseload is now dedicated to right-wing extremism, from as low as 10 per cent just a few years ago.
“All of the report’s recommendations should be taken seriously and considered in Australia. We should have strong hate speech laws, and dedicate resources to tracking hate crimes properly.
“I also welcome the report’s recommendation to dedicate more government resources to challenging racism and promoting equality. Australia needs a national anti-racism campaign to combat and eradicate prejudice and bias.
“There is much to consider over the coming days and weeks. My thoughts are with the survivors and the families of those targeted as they process the release of this disturbing report,” she said.