For security reasons , Australian Parliament issued a law to isolate Muslim women who wearing the niqab
Sydney ( Agencies + DIPLOMAT.SO) – Until Tony Abbott’s apparent intervention late on Thursday, burqa- and niqab-wearing women were to be confined in a segregated enclosure, should they have wished to view parliamentary proceedings in Canberra. Normally an innocuous viewing area for school children, the proposal made the glass box seem more like the holding area for war criminals at the Hague.
The speaker Bronwyn Bishop and the Senate president Stephen Parry were weighing whether to go a step further and ban face coverings from parliament house altogether.
Security was the official explanation, which is difficult to fathom. Everyone who attends the visitors’ gallery has to pass through a screening process, face coverings or not. Bombs, knives or guns hidden in burqas are as likely to be picked up as if they were embedded in Bombay Bloomers.
Like many of the spurious arguments propounded in this alarmist environment, the latest restriction had more to do with Islamophobia than security. Tony Abbott, the prime minister, says he finds the burqa “confronting”, but has never seen a burqa in parliament house.
The dog whistle from the Australian government has now become a clarion call. Might we feel safer if Muslims were imprisoned at Cowra, like the Japanese in 1944?
The red mist of security madness is descending upon Australia. For a floundering government and an unpopular prime minister, both articulating some pretty regressive ideas, the timeline of events since over the last two months could not have better configured.
In early August the image of the son of an Australian jihadist holding the severed head of a Syrian government soldier was splashed on our front pages. At the time that was certainly more confronting than women wearing burqas in parliament house. The official message from the government was that we were interested only in humanitarian missions.
We sent two Hercules transport planes to airlift supplies to besieged Yazidis. Nine days after that (on 20 August) a video was posted depicting the beheading of US journalist James Foley. Eleven days later, the prime minister announced that Australian planes were to deliver arms and munitions to fighters opposing the Sunni uprising.
Abbott added on 1 September that Australia did not intend to send combat troops to the Middle East. Another 11 days further on (12 September) the government announced that the terror threat level was to be raised from medium to high.
Two days later, it was made clear that Australia would deploy 600 defence force personnel to the Middle East (400 from the Royal Australian Air Force and 200 from the Army). Eight Super Hornet fighters were also committed.
Then, on 18 September, Operation Appleby was launched. We awoke to news that 800 police officers had blitzed through homes across Sydney’s west and Brisbane’s south, cameras and reporters in tow. One man was arrested on serious charges relating to conspiracy to prepare for a terrorist attack.
The police and security services apparently acted on the strength of a telephone intercept of a conversation from an Iraqi based jihadist recruiter. Headlines that the man planned to behead someone in Sydney’s busy Martin Place were later said by police to be unfounded.
A day later, security at parliament house in Canberra was upgraded. The place was soon swarming with black clad, gun-toting agents.
On 23 September, Numan Haider was shot and killed at a Melbourne police station after stabbing two police officers. The prime minister, by this point on his way to the UN Security Council, spoke from Hawaii, calling it a “nasty incident”.
The next day the Counter Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Foreign Fighters) Bill was introduced into parliament, to be debated later this month. The proposed law makes it an offence to advocate terrorism and remain in or enter a “declared zone”.
Upon arrival at the UN on 25 September, Abbott laid out Australia’s fighting credentials:
Since 1947, Australia has provided more than 65,000 personnel to more than 50 multilateral peace and security operations … When leadership is needed, we step up.
The same day, the National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) passed the Senate. The new law allows Australia’s spy agency, Asio, to access computer networks on the strength of a single warrant. Anybody, including journalists, who discloses information relating to new “special intelligence operations” faces a long stretch in jail.
Police once again swooped on suburban homes on 30 September, this time in Melbourne. Abbott stepped up his rhetoric on Isis, describing it as an “apocalyptic death cult”.
Now it’s the burqa’s turn to be part of the distraction. And distraction it is, in more ways than one. For instance, take the eight Super Hornet fighters being sent to the UAE to deal with this “existential threat”.
If ever there was a piece of gesture politics this is it. The US has the biggest air force in the world and other gulf states are well supplied with fighter jets. To send eight of ours half way around the planet as a contribution to an already abundant arsenal shows just how desperate Abbott is to be part of the action.
What would be more damaging to Isis is not our eight fighter planes, but for their armaments and funding to be systematically cut off. Money and supplies have been supplied from within Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar – all US allies. For us in Australia to be cutting off transfers of $12,000 from individuals is heartwarming, but another relatively ineffective gesture.
The new security laws themselves are way beyond the bounds of necessity, most recently confirmed by the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security herself.
Importantly, none of the overreaching powers awarded to the Australian Federal Police and Asio can prevent a dedicated lone wolf attack anywhere in the country at any time. Once again, the legislation is more about politics than guaranteeing security.
Meanwhile, Australia’s first order priorities, that require real leadership and courage, stay steadfastly off the agenda.
Our country is being wracked by climate change, but the Australian government’s business advisor, Maurice Newman, has called for a review of our weather bureau to “dispel suspicions of a warming bias”. We will not contribute our skilled health workers to the Ebola crisis, despite having produced useful research on the study of related viruses.
Asylum seekers are stitching their lips together in our offshore detention centres. In these camps, women are allegedly sexually exploited for access to showers and basic amenities, and self-harm among child detainees is “shockingly high”.
But here is a task worthy of our government: keeping women behind glass.For more news and stories, join us on Facebook,Twitter , or contact us through our Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org