The Australian government has arrested Renas Lelikan, a journalist, for the ‘crime’ of allegedly being a member of the PKK, the Kurdish Workers’ Party, one of the groups fighting ISIS. Echoing Billy Hughes’ outlawing of the Industrial Workers of the World in 1915/16, the PKK is a proscribed organisation in Australia (but not all Western countries) and membership per se is ‘illegal’.
At the same time the Cessnock City Council on Wednesday narrowly approved building a mosque. The response of those racists opposed to this should be, but won’t be, eye opening. According to Georgina Mitchell and Sage Swinton in the Sydney Morning Herald today (Thursday):
‘The mosque’s opponents immediately took to social media to decry the decision and some promoted violence against both the planned place of worship and the council chambers.
‘”Sounds like the council chambers might need a bomb,” one man wrote on an anti-mosque Facebook page, while three separate people proposed setting the mosque on fire.
‘ “If it is approved I hope it is burnt to the ground,” a man wrote on the STOP the Buchanan Mosque – kurri kurri page.
‘ “I bet a packet of matches and a litre or two of petrol it won’t last long,” another said. A third man added: “Isnt that a bushfire prone area? We can only hope!”
‘Another poster on the page said residents “need to bring out the fighter in all of us and make them think twice about where they want to lay their hijabs”.’
That is the voice of real terrorism in Australia – angry right wing racists demanding death for councillors who voted to allow a mosque to be built or threatening to burn down the mosque when it is built.
There will be no prosecutions. Certainly there will be no arrests for what these threats are, terrorism, and there will be no media condemnation of these threats as terrorism. These are after all white people ‘expressing their fears.’
These right wing terrorists perform a vital function for capital. First they are the logical expression of state racism and its demonisation or ‘othering’ of asylum seekers, Aboriginal people, and, nudge nudge wink wink, Muslims.
Second their actions reinforce the agenda of fear the government wants to promote.
Third they distract from other issues that impact on working class people such as government attacks on welfare recipients, cuts to Medicare, public schools, Universities, wages, jobs…
And forth, the ruling class thinks it can control these racists, reactionaries and worse and use them against the left when (not if) the working class mobilises around its own interests.
These are Malcolm Turnbull’s allies.
Meanwhile Renas faces 10 years in jail for the crime of reporting the struggles of the Kurdish militia, the People’s Protection Units, or YPG. The YPG is one of the main groups successfully fighting ISIS. According to Lauren Williams, writing last year in the Lowey Institute’s, Interpreter ‘YPG is considered the military arm of the Democratic Union Party (YPD), the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK)…’
Our first response must be to defend Renas. Our second response must be to try to build a mass movement against the normalisation of racism and right wing terrorism, driven by the State and the media, in Australian society today.