‘It’s time to stop making the rest of us pay for the comments of individuals.’
Once again, mass media is plastered with the latest ‘face of Islam’. This week, it’s in the form of Zaky Mallah, a radical whose views are representative of himself only. This time, he has made headlines after saying that Australian Muslims would be justified in joining Islamic State in Syria.
Zaky Mallah’s momentary appearance as an audience member on Q&A has become two days of front-page media coverage, and counting.
Once again, the broader Islamic community has found itself on the defensive. We are left to condemn the views of an individual. Left to prove that our condemnation is sincere and try to convince the community that the latest, loud-mouthed radical’s comments are problematic do not represent the wider community.
Mallah doesn’t carry all the blame for this fallout. The media circus that has been created is the fault of every irresponsible news source that has taken these comments, wrapped them in an ISIS flag and splashed them on the front page. I mean, how often do we spend days talking about the comments of one misguided man?
Once again, Muslims have found themselves having the same conversations with their friends, neighbours and colleagues. To explain once more that most Muslims are just regular, everyday members of society going about their normal business. That we don’t all secretly think that terrorism is justifiable.
More from Amne: ‘I’m a Muslim woman living in Australia and I’m scared.’
The most problematic part of Mallah’s irresponsible commentary is that he has taken away from some very serious discussions that must be had about Australia’s role in preventing the radicalisation of young Muslims.
Muslims in this country, like many other minority groups, have legitimate concerns about the way in which issues relating to them are handled by the media.
There are concerns that the language used by our leaders has been divisive and counterproductive. That this language fuels the fire of Muslim and non-Muslim extremists alike, crushing the everyday Muslim between two opposing forces that use the same tactics.
There are concerns that the policies being proposed are likely to create even greater feelings of isolation in the Muslim community. This feeling is particularly endemic in young Muslims that feel that they are not allowed to contribute to debates on issues that directly influence them. They’re scared of inciting the wrath of society that is brought on by the media. Instead of contributing, they remain silent. This is deeply problematic – how can we find solutions to such large problems when those with the answers are too frightened to speak up?