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One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist

By John Hargreaves - 29 June 2015 73

Zacky Mallah

Last August I wrote about the application of the political paradigm known as the state of fear. It has been employed by bodies politics and dictators since Persian times, reaching a perfection in the days of the Inquisition.

It is the notion that a government (or ruling body/dictator) keeps the community under control by creating a monster that only they can protect against.

This is the underlying premise that motivates the current government and the two before it, in its policies to deal with terrorism/boat people/political opponents.

I am a big fan of Waleed Aly, the award-winning journo from Fairfax Press who is also a panelist on television show The Project.

He has the ability to tell it how it is and to show inconsistencies in policies where they arise and give us all food for thought.  His latest in the Crimes last week was a pearler.

Waleed showed that the current government’s approach to dual nationals is fundamentally flawed and actually shows a policy driven by a pathological need to stay in office, stating contradictory lines of argument whenever and wherever it feels a need.

Cop this! Waleed points out that Tony Abbott says he does not want terrorists loose on our streets. Abbott did say that – I heard him myself on the telly. That’s why we need to make sure that people who go overseas to fight in someone else’s war against people who are actually fighting each other, don’t come back here and bring those issues into our community.  So far, so good?

But what about those born here, Australian citizens only, who do the same? What about those who fight on the same side as our government?  What about those who fight against others who for the time being are our allies but recently were proscribed terrorists?  Hmmm, getting cloudy!

But also, as Waleed points out, what about the government cancelling the passports of around 80 Australians who were intending to leave and go overseas to fight?  The government is actually forcing these people to run loose on our streets!

Hang on. So the gumment wants to stop people coming home and running loose on our streets, but it won’t let people leave, forcing them to give expression to their zeal on our streets!  Good one, Tone!

Of course, the PM’s obsession with all things terror now extends to not only a denial of our citizenship right. Without conviction, he is prepared to take away the freedom of expression of people not convicted of the crimes he suggests they are guilty of.

Zacky Mallah was found guilty of threatening an ASIO officer. Ergo, he is a terrorist. He shouldn’t be allowed on the Q&A program because he was convicted of that “crime”. How many people have been convicted of threatening a police officer? How many are banned from commenting publicly on the issue they found it necessary to be so worked up about? Double standard again.

Waleed tells us, and I believe him, that Zacky was acquitted of terrorism charges. But that doesn’t wash with our Tone, any more than it washed with his mentor John Howard in his treatment of Mohammed Haneef.

Tone says the courts are not necessarily capable of being adjudicating on a person’s intentions. A minister is much more able to judge that and take away a right.  Shame that it was unconstitutional, Tone.

And now, in a shameful display of petulance, our Beloved Leader is hell bent on denying the ABC its independence as a broadcaster.

Unusually, ABC chairman Mark Scott  took issue with the PM’s position in a speech last Thursday.  He made the point that sometimes, free speech principles mean giving platforms to those with whom we fundamentally disagree. This is exactly what freedom of speech is all about.

If the ABC is to be an independent broadcaster, it must be free to air whatever it likes within the constraints of its Act. It is not the voice of the government of the day.

Mr Scott said it well when he said:

“The A in ABC is “Australian… the ABC is clearly on the side of Australia. And the part we play, what we do for the side, is a vital one, central to our culture and our democracy – that of being an independent public broadcaster.  It is the ABC’s independence  from government, that shapes the ABC as a public broadcaster not a state broadcaster [my emphasis].”

Zacky Mallah may hold views that we disagree with, but he is not a convicted terrorist. He has not committed a crime for which eternal silence is a sentence, and he has the same right to say things in a public arena as some of the other zealots which have occupied the seats in the Q&A audience.

As a regular Q&A viewer, I have been appalled at the views of some of the audience and some of the panellists, but to get two sides of an argument I sometimes need to hear the one I don’t like to hear.

The state of fear is safe in Tony’s hands and we can all rest fitfully in our beds.

What’s Your opinion?


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73 Responses to
One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist
MERC600 4:49 pm 29 Jun 15

John that was good searching by you to find the quote from Mr Scott.

Are you able to use your skills to find some quotes from Mr Mallah.

One quote concerns two lady journalists and the sunrise TV show, and the other concerns our Nations first Lady Prime Minister.
Thanking you in anticipation. Regards Merc600.

dungfungus 4:01 pm 29 Jun 15

JC said :

dungfungus said :

Before we embrace Zacky Mallah as a hero we should be fully acquainted with what he actually was planning to do:
http://press.anu.edu.au//war_terror/mobile_devices/ch13s03.html

And he was acquitted by a court of law. Your point?

Probably by the same judge who let Monis out on bail.

Southmouth 2:58 pm 29 Jun 15

Just as police know more about the goings on in the criminal world than is ever made public, so do ASIO and ASIS about terrorist activities. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and is being harassed but duck hunters then there is a good chance it will prove itself to be a duck.

vintage123 2:48 pm 29 Jun 15

I believe zacky was acquitted on a technicality and furthermore the current terrorist laws could not be applied retrospectively. If so I believe he would have been found guilty. So in the current law and today if he repeated those threats he would be guilty. It’s a bit of a shame they cut him off mid sentence on q and a, as I think he was teetering on saying it again, which would have been interesting. All that aside, I heard that the government is now employing him on $200k a year to advise ASIO.

Acton 2:32 pm 29 Jun 15

John
If you were “appalled at the views of some of the audience…,” then what words do you use to describe your reaction to a public beheading in a London street, to Nigerian school girls being kidnapped, to a screaming Jordanian prisoner being burnt alive in a cage, to tourists being mown down on a Tunis beach, to mutilated spectators at a Boston marathon, to journalists being ambushed in their Paris office, to the taking of hostages in a Sydney café, to smiling Australian children holding severed heads …?
We should be shocked by such outrages and we should rightly fear the outrages still to come.
Yet you express no reaction to those events or their perpetrators. You fail to acknowledge the context of the world we now live in.
If you are not shocked and appalled by such events, or find in your mind some convoluted way to justify those events, then you will not understand the entirely rational fear and natural suspicion such events do and should generate in the minds of those who are genuinely shocked and appalled.
The weakness in the argument that a political paradigm known as the state of fear has been artificially created by governments to instil fear and dependence, is the reality of those events. Or is it now loony lefty conspiracy theory that the Abbott Government is somehow behind it all?

JC 2:25 pm 29 Jun 15

dungfungus said :

Before we embrace Zacky Mallah as a hero we should be fully acquainted with what he actually was planning to do:
http://press.anu.edu.au//war_terror/mobile_devices/ch13s03.html

And he was acquitted by a court of law. Your point?

dungfungus 2:14 pm 29 Jun 15

watto23 said :

dungfungus said :

Before we embrace Zacky Mallah as a hero we should be fully acquainted with what he actually was planning to do:
http://press.anu.edu.au//war_terror/mobile_devices/ch13s03.html

Nobody is embracing him as a hero. Seriously people need to understand that an opposing the governments blinkered view and attack on the ABC doesn’t mean they agree with Zaky Mallah or paint him to be a hero. That is just spindoctoring by the government to make it an us versus them scenario and its nothing of the sort.

If he is a terrorist threat then why is he out on the streets now? He was acquitted in a court of planning a terrorist act. This is all part of the government trying to drum up fear in the uneducated masses of society, so they can win more votes at the election.

He didn’t say anything offensive, he made a valid point even if voiced poorly. The governments attitudes and policies are just as likely to make disillusioned muslim youth in the community turn to the wrong role models. Muslim youth are no different to any other youth, the kind that graffitti, commit petty theft, drink and drive. Terrorism may be more extreme than those offences, but the path to get there is much the same.

“He didn’t say anything offensive,”
Well, if the following Tweet he made isn’t offensive, I am on the wrong blog:
“Zaky Mallah @ZakyMallah
Australia has two decent whores, @RitaPahahi & Miranda Divine. Both should be gang banged on the Sunrise desk.
#freedomofspeech love it.”

John Hargreaves 1:28 pm 29 Jun 15

Mysteryman said :

And now, in a shameful display of petulance, our Beloved Leader is hell bent on denying the ABC its independence as a broadcaster.

Says who? John, I’m all for people getting on Riot-Act and having their say, but if you’re going to post these thought bubbles you should be able to follow them up with evidence of what you’re asserting.

Shame that it was unconstitutional, Tone.

According to who? Perhaps you could point to the relevant part of the constitution?

The Gumment backed down because it was advised that taking away a person’s citizenship without a conviction would be unconstitutional. You know that and so does everyone else.

I point to the Gumment’s bias when Tony Abbott said – “who’s side are you on?” He was saying that he expected the ABC to be on the side of the Gumment. Well, the ABC is on our side, not Tony’s not Bill’s, not any one side but that of Australia.

And we’re getting sick of Tony bagging the messenger. First Gillian Triggs not Mark Scott. Can someone tell him he’s not the suppository of all wisdom….

Mysteryman 12:05 pm 29 Jun 15

watto23 said :

Mysteryman said :

Says who? John, I’m all for people getting on Riot-Act and having their say, but if you’re going to post these thought bubbles you should be able to follow them up with evidence of what you’re asserting.

Well its pretty clear the current government doesn’t like the alternative views presented by the ABC. Yes it is govt funded, but as pointed out last week its not a mouthpiece for the government. It only appears to be left wing biased to the extreme right government we have now. Swinging voters and moderates don’t see the bias, its certainly got a long way to go to match the right wing bias of news limited. Yes there are shows that lean left, but I’ve seen just as many Labor MP’s get grilled on ABC radio and TV as the Liberal ones.
It was poor judgement, but the man was also a free man. If the comments made by him came from another member of the audience, would they have been considered as bad?

Probably not….

I didn’t actually post what I posted to argue about any perceived balance issues with the ABC. I posted it to draw attention to John’s efforts to repeatedly make claims without providing substantial evidence for them.

But since you brought it up, I think one misses the whole point when one makes comparisons between the ABC and other news sources or other media outlets. The other media outlets are not funded by the government. They have no obligation to be fair and balanced. They can be as opinionated as they like (as we’ve seen from Fairfax’s love for the left these past 6 or 7 years). The ABC is funded by the government, and they *do* have an obligation to be fair and balanced. I have my opinion on their coverage, but it’s nothing more than an opinion. What I’m trying to say is that drawing comparisons to the other media outlets is irrelevant; it’s apples to oranges.

watto23 12:00 pm 29 Jun 15

dungfungus said :

Before we embrace Zacky Mallah as a hero we should be fully acquainted with what he actually was planning to do:
http://press.anu.edu.au//war_terror/mobile_devices/ch13s03.html

Nobody is embracing him as a hero. Seriously people need to understand that an opposing the governments blinkered view and attack on the ABC doesn’t mean they agree with Zaky Mallah or paint him to be a hero. That is just spindoctoring by the government to make it an us versus them scenario and its nothing of the sort.

If he is a terrorist threat then why is he out on the streets now? He was acquitted in a court of planning a terrorist act. This is all part of the government trying to drum up fear in the uneducated masses of society, so they can win more votes at the election.

He didn’t say anything offensive, he made a valid point even if voiced poorly. The governments attitudes and policies are just as likely to make disillusioned muslim youth in the community turn to the wrong role models. Muslim youth are no different to any other youth, the kind that graffitti, commit petty theft, drink and drive. Terrorism may be more extreme than those offences, but the path to get there is much the same.

Paul Costigan 11:44 am 29 Jun 15

John,

Nicely put. I have a couple of points to add:

The reason I tuned in that night was to hear the anti-poverty campaigner Linda Tirado. Her presence got lost in the political/media maelstrom that followed. She had some good things to offer and it is a shame her presence and words were quickly overlooked and lost.

I love the idea that Kevin Andrews is boycotting Q & A. And the program has responded by saying that he has never been invited to be on the panel. Is this another of those infamous cases of ABC bias – or simply ABC wisdom not to bore their audience?

It was a mistake to have that character ask his own question from the audience. It should have been a pre-recorded question as was that one put to John Howard by David Hicks. But that mistake is not a capital offence. It was a mistake, and I suspect someone has learnt a hard lesson! Most of us make mistakes every now and then. Can we now move on and deal with the many real social, equity and environmental issues?

For more on Linda Tirado

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/sep/21/linda-tirado-poverty-hand-to-mouth-interview

dungfungus 11:24 am 29 Jun 15

Before we embrace Zacky Mallah as a hero we should be fully acquainted with what he actually was planning to do:
http://press.anu.edu.au//war_terror/mobile_devices/ch13s03.html

watto23 10:50 am 29 Jun 15

Mysteryman said :

Says who? John, I’m all for people getting on Riot-Act and having their say, but if you’re going to post these thought bubbles you should be able to follow them up with evidence of what you’re asserting.

Well its pretty clear the current government doesn’t like the alternative views presented by the ABC. Yes it is govt funded, but as pointed out last week its not a mouthpiece for the government. It only appears to be left wing biased to the extreme right government we have now. Swinging voters and moderates don’t see the bias, its certainly got a long way to go to match the right wing bias of news limited. Yes there are shows that lean left, but I’ve seen just as many Labor MP’s get grilled on ABC radio and TV as the Liberal ones.
It was poor judgement, but the man was also a free man. If the comments made by him came from another member of the audience, would they have been considered as bad? Probably not….

watto23 10:35 am 29 Jun 15

Well that the problem with this government though. Contradictory to say the least.

Freedom of speech…. for Andrew Bolt but not Zaky Mallah.
Windfarms are ugly…. Coal mines are not.
They have a budget emergency…. except when spending on things that will win them votes.
Labor are blocking all the legislation and being negative…. Previous opposition apparently was nothing like that!

The shame about the terror argument is the citizens don’t really have a way to gauge whether the government is being truthful or not and thus tend to err on the side of the government. My concern is nothing seems to be balanced and rational from the government. Anyone remotely moderate is called a left winger, many of whom prefer Malcolm Turnbulls stance on these issues over Tony Abbott’s.

Compare something like Q&A to the Bolt report and a reasonable person would say the bolt report is unashamedly biased to the right. Q&A tends to lean left but is far from being excessively biased. Our current government still believes in denying us information to make our own judgement, because it knows a lot of the policies don’t benefit the country as a whole. Expert after expert have said so, yet then those experts are suddenly denounced by some wishy washy politics.

We needed a coalition government right now, but the problem is our current coalition government have no idea what they are doing, are basing their entire chances on being re-elected by amping up the terrorist threat.

Surely a good policy is to not put ourselves in the target of terrorists, like France has done. surely some more moderate policies around protecting our country would achieve exactly the same outcome, without violating human rights. What happens if someone moves here and denounces their old citizenship (many countries like Malaysia and Singapore demand this). Then they commit a terrorist act? Well we’ll then have to deal with them ourselves, rather than our current policies trying to shift as much of the problem onto other countries.

Finally, Zaky Mallah really said nothing that controversial. Steve Ciobo was just as inflammatory with his comments. What if as he suggested by Mallah, that current government policies are alienating the muslim youth here. Seems like a fairly reasonable assertion to me. In that case all we are doing is increasing the chances of a terrorist attack from some misguided youth. The Lindt Cafe attack was more of a crazy man on murder charges, committing an offence under the guise of a terrorist act, it wasn’t organised by a terrorist group. do we really want misguided muslim youth to do the same because they think they are doing the right thing to retaliate against the government in such a way? I’m not defending any criminal or criminal act here.

We also need to look at issues that are of a far greater threat than terrorism. Domestic violence, or which Abbott and co have done very little about, Criminals on the street who re-offend and take another life, alcoholism related issues and the list goes on. All of which affect, harm or kill far more Australian citizens than terrorism. We need to take precautions against Terrorism, but there comes a point where the laws really do nothing to protect us and are all about winning votes and upsetting the muslim community.

Its such a sad state of politics in Australia right now.

Mysteryman 10:16 am 29 Jun 15

And now, in a shameful display of petulance, our Beloved Leader is hell bent on denying the ABC its independence as a broadcaster.

Says who? John, I’m all for people getting on Riot-Act and having their say, but if you’re going to post these thought bubbles you should be able to follow them up with evidence of what you’re asserting.

Shame that it was unconstitutional, Tone.

According to who? Perhaps you could point to the relevant part of the constitution?

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