Role of mosques part of the solution

SINCE Australians woke to the news of the counter-terrorism raids in Sydney, Brisbane and Logan, talkback radio and the TV news have filled with talk of "home-grown terrorism" and "enemies within".

There have been claims that Australia's half-a-million Muslims have particular difficulty "fitting in". That's not unique to Australia. For instance, in the United Kingdom, it is sometimes claimed that Muslim Britons live alongside - but not with - their non-Muslim citizens.

So what is the evidence that anything other than a tiny minority of Muslim Australians don't want to live decent, ordinary lives? And given the fierce anti-Islamic protests in some areas, what's the evidence that we should be afraid of mosques in our midst?

Are mosques the problem or part of the solution?

Mosques are too easily characterised as incubators of separation and radicalisation, yet a recent report shows that as well as being places of prayer and communion, mosques have increasingly become places of social work.

Beyond these spectacular raids, there is the day-to-day counter-terrorism work that is done in our cities. That everyday effort includes police undertaking intelligence gathering and liaison work, and building good relationships with communities.

Indeed, a large part of the counter-terrorism work - the primary interventions against radicalisation - is done by and through the communities. This mode of policing is called "community policing" and involves co-operation with communities.

That work is done through community infrastructures, including local mosques and the Islamic associations.

Mosques are not our problem; instead, they are a fundamental part of the solution to radicalisation.



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