The best of hu­man­ity on dis­play in tragedy

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - MIRANDA DEVINE -

AT a time of chaos and divi­sion, we saw the best of hu­man­ity on Fri­day in Mel­bourne, even while the weak­ness of past im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy came back to haunt us.

Brave po­lice of­fi­cers con­fronting a crazed Mus­lim ter­ror­ist wield­ing a knife, as his crashed ute packed with gas cylin­ders blazed nearby.

They did their job, calmly and with enor­mous courage as So­mali-born Has­san Khalif Shire Ali, at­tacked. They risked their own lives try­ing to dis­arm the killer be­fore one of the of­fi­cers shot Ali squarely in the chest at close range.

Then there was the courage of the three civil­ian by­standers who armed them­selves with what­ever they could find and ran to­wards the dan­ger.

“Trol­ley Man”, as he has come to be known by an in­stant fan base on Twit­ter, man­aged to slow the ter­ror­ist down at one point by shov­ing a shop­ping trol­ley at him like a bat­ter­ing ram.

Their mo­tives were noble, whether or not their ac­tions helped po­lice.

Con­sid­er­ing the ex­plo­sion of car­jack­ings and vi­o­lent home in­va­sions in Mel­bourne, it’s no sur­prise if cit­i­zens have started to lose faith in po­lice and feel the need to take pub­lic pro­tec­tion into their own hands. This is the haz­ardous flip side of Vic­to­ria’s po­lit­i­cally cor­rect, riska­verse polic­ing.

But on Fri­day, un­like in the last Bourke Street tragedy, cur­rently be­fore the courts, po­lice were on the scene al­most im­me­di­ately and tak­ing ac­tion against Ali.

Key­board crit­ics say they should have shot him dead sooner. Civil­ians were call­ing out “Shoot him” as Ali lunged. But that’s eas­ier said than done.

Ac­cord­ing to one NSW front­line vet­eran, those two of­fi­cers re­frained from shoot­ing ear­lier be­cause “the prox­im­ity of civil­ians and the chang­ing an­gle of move­ment by the of­fender meant that a clear shot was clearly not pos­si­ble un­til the last sec­ond’’.

The fact is that no one was killed af­ter those two po­lice of­fi­cers ar­rived, ex­cept the ter­ror­ist.

Where we are be­ing let down is not by those front­line he­roes. It is by the cul­ture of ag­gres­sive sup­pres­sion sur­round­ing any dis­cus­sion of why a dis­pro­por­tion­ate num­ber of Mus­lim refugees or their chil­dren have be­come rad­i­calised to com­mit ter­ror­ism against the coun­try which took them in.

The irony is that the lat­est at­tack came a week af­ter the ABC Four Cor­ners’ re­port cast­ing black Africans in Mel­bourne as vic­tims of op­pres­sion. The me­dia was slammed as racist for re­port­ing home in­va­sions.

It’s not the colour of the of­fend­ers’ skin that makes the crime news, but the ex­treme vi­o­lence and ut­ter dis­re­gard for the law, which has been im­ported from the war-torn lands of Su­dan and So­ma­lia.

There are three rea­sons why we need to be able to dis­cuss this prob­lem openly with­out be­ing shouted down as big­ots. First, be­cause sup­press­ing de­bate just en­sures more ex­treme and er­ro­neous pri­vate con­clu­sions.

Sec­ond, only by dis­cussing the prob­lem openly will good Su­danese or So­mali com­mu­nity mem­bers be spurred to take ac­tion to con­trol their youth, po­lice their mosques and call out anti-Aus­tralian at­ti­tudes.

Third, we need to learn from our mis­takes.

We now can count five fa­tal at­tacks on Aus­tralian soil in the past four years which were com­mit­ted by first or sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion refugees, in­clud­ing Lindt Cafe ter­ror­ist Man Mo­nis.

Yac­qub Khayre, 29, shot dead by po­lice dur­ing an al Qaeda-in­spired ter­ror­ist at­tack in Mel­bourne last year, was a So­mali refugee.

Farhad Jabar, 15, who mur­dered po­lice ac­coun­tant Cur­tis Cheng in Par­ra­matta in 2015, was an Ira­nian refugee.

Is­lamic State fol­lower Nu­man Haider, 18, shot dead af­ter stab­bing two po­lice of­fi­cers in Mel­bourne in 2014, was an Afghan refugee.

As well, two of the men con­victed over the Holswor­thy Bar­racks ter­ror plot in 2009, Saney Aweys and Nayef El Sayed, were refugees (from Le­banon and So­ma­lia re­spec­tively).

It costs an es­ti­mated $8 mil­lion per year for se­cu­rity agen­cies to mon­i­tor one ter­ror­ism sus­pect. Then there is the cost of ter­ror tri­als, our loss of civil lib­er­ties, the ugli­fi­ca­tion of our pub­lic spa­ces with bol­lards, and so on.

The Op­er­a­tion Pen­den­nis tri­als alone, re­lat­ing to the ter­ror­ist plot to blow up the MCG, cost $5 mil­lion. The in­ves­ti­ga­tion cost more than $15 mil­lion. Counter-rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion pro­grams are $40 mil­lion.

Imag­ine how much good that money could have done to help refugees in situ over­seas.

If there are coun­tries whose cit­i­zens are so dam­aged by war or whose cul­ture is fun­da­men­tally in­com­pat­i­ble with ours, who will re­sent our gen­eros­ity, then it is com­mon sense that we should not bring them here as refugees. This will only cre­ate com­mu­nity dis­cord and bring the refugee pro­gram into dis­re­pute.

Rather than ship­ping re­luc­tant refugees half­way around the world to an alien cul­ture that sim­ply can­not bend enough to ac­commo- date their wishes, far bet­ter to spend the money on help­ing them in their global neigh­bour­hood, where one day they have the chance of re­build­ing their home­lands.

Our gov­ern­ments have to put the wel­fare of Aus­tralian cit­i­zens above the UN’s opaque pri­or­i­ties.

We have the world’s most gen­er­ous refugee pro­gram per capita. But there are 25 mil­lion refugees in the world. We should choose more wisely.

NSW po­lice ac­coun­tant Cur­tis Cheng, pic­tured her with his son Al­pha, was shot dead in the street at Par­ra­matta by Farhad Jabar, an Ira­nian refugee.

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