The murder of 50 Muslim women, men, and children this past Friday was a horrific act of terrorism carried out by a self-described fascist. This horrible event demands an immediate response from students; each of us has a role to play in staving off Islamophobia and supporting Muslim people. The Curtin Muslim Students Association, National Union Students Against Racism, and the Curtin Student Guild have called a speak-out demonstration for this Wednesday, March 20 at 1pm in Upper Henderson Court.
What happened on Friday March 15 was horrifying and inhumane. The deaths and injuries sustained make this one of the most violent attacks against Muslims to ever occur in the west. However, it is important to understand such an event doesn’t occur in isolation. Indeed, the manifesto of the shooter draws upon a rich well of Islamophobia and bigotry, which has been prepared over decades by Australian politicians and successive governments.
You don’t have to look far to find examples of this.
In the past six months alone, far-right Senator Fraser Anning called for a “final solution” to immigration, and a motion declaring “it’s okay to be white” was only narrowly defeated in the senate.
We also have the bipartisan commitment of the Labor Party and the Liberals to maintain the mandatory detention policy of refugees in places such as Nauru and on Manus Island, not to mention the theatrical displays put on by the Government in the form of dawn raids on Muslim homes. Media are invited to film and report on the process of police storming homes in the name of national security, without any evidence beyond the religion and cultural background of the targets. All of this is intended to send a very clear message to people; Muslims represent a fifth column in our society and must be treated as suspect.
The political moment we find ourselves in is a dark one. For decades now, the right has been ascendant, and as they have grown, so too have the far-right. Their politics feeds upon despair and hopelessness, and the remedy they offer is one of fear.
But things don’t have to be this way, and while last Friday was a day of deep despair, young people around the world have shown us the way forward. Hundreds of thousands of students took action around the world for climate justice, and though we were marching for a different cause, it’s a beautiful reminder of the power of direct action. Ordinary people have the power to change the world.
In order to overcome this barbaric racism in our society, we need to build a movement that can counter the despair and the hopelessness that the right spreads. We need to get organised so that we are not just standing in solidarity with our Muslim sisters and brothers in their darkest times, but standing up with them to fight the normalisation of racism and bigotry whenever it takes place.
Chris MacFarlane is a member of Socialist Alternative. Information on their club can be found here.