ASIO harassment of the Muslim community

So I have recently heard that in Melbourne, ASIO has been calling Muslims in to meetings and threatening them not to express political opinions, including ones which it would be considered normal for any other Australian to say; for example being against war. Obviously this has the community pretty scared. To the point where people are telling their kids not to talk about politics at all.

This isn’t the first time this has happened. I first heard about this kind of thing when I was involved in activism against the war against Lebanon in 2006. Muslim activists would sometimes just disappear from campaigns without giving any reason. Sometimes we’d find out 3rd or 4th hand that people had been raided, arrested, etc and then released but instructed under anti-terror laws not to talk about it. Whole organisations would sometimes stop being involved in campaigns after being threatened.

I also know that the police have interfered to stop people attending rallies. One example was in 2010 there was a neo-nazi rally at Flinders St Station in Melbourne. A counter rally was organised by various left groups. I know from private discussions that a lot of people from the Muslim community were planning to attend the counter-rally. However the police went to all the Mosques and convinced them that they should not attend.

Anyway, because of the anti-terror laws it’s impossible for people subjected to this abuse by ASIO to speak about it publicly. But from word of mouth reports it’s obvious that this has been happening regularly for a long time and that it’s getting much worse now – what we do hear about must only be the tip of the iceberg.

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