Toddlers in Australian childcare centres would inevitably come under the radar of spy organisations and counter-terrorism police, a gathering of hundreds of Muslim men, women and children has been told.
More than 500 people flocked on Sunday to a forum in south-western Sydney addressing the “criminalisation” of the Islamic community in Australia.
They were told Muslim children should not be forced to sing the Australian anthem and that “deradicalisation” was an agenda of forced assimilation.
“Deradicalisation has come to mean making Muslims less Islamic, more Western, more secular, more submissive to secular, Liberal political … norms,” HuT spokesman Uthman Badar said.
“It is nothing more than an agenda of forced assimilation justified by exaggerated fears of a security threat.”
He said Muslim children should not be forced to sing the national anthem.
“The insistence of senior government ministers that Muslim children sing the national anthem – an anthem that reflects a particular disputed view of history and celebrates particular ideological values … Why should they be forced to sing it?” he asked the crowd, gathered at The Bellevue function centre in Bankstown.
Wassim Doureihi, another prominent HuT member, said Australian toddlers would inevitably become a target of counter-terrorism authorities.
“There is a huge and renewed emphasis on the Muslim youth today,” he said following revelations a 12-year-old Australian boy is on security agencies’ terror watch list.
“We don’t know where the bottom [age] is going to be,” Mr Doureihi said.
“Is it inconceivable that 10-year-olds will be placed under suspicion? Is it inconceivable that 12-year-olds will be placed on ASIO watch lists? Is it inconceivable, as we’ve already seen in Europe, that toddlers in childcare facilities are reported through counter-terrorism policies?”
“We live in an era of mass hysteria … Muslims are under siege and Muslim children in particular are under siege.”
“What has happened in the UK … will inevitably happen here.”
In July, it became public knowledge a three-year-old was on Britain’s terrorism radar.
The conference started on Sunday morning with a recitation from the Koran and the screening of a short video depicting the fictional path of a young Muslim from skipping an Anzac Day ceremony to their home being raided by police.
Inside a glossy, 36-page booklet, distributed at the forum, one section tutored the community on how to respond when ASIO comes knocking.
Titled Don’t be Spooked: How to Deal with Spies, it cautions against befriending people with unexplained pasts.
“They appear out of the abyss, with pasts that either cannot be explained or do not make sense,” the article reads. “Keep your guard up in such cases.”
It also warns against interacting with unknown people online – these, too, could be spooks.
And it reminds Muslims that they are under no obligation to meet anyone from ASIO unless they have a warrant.
“If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to hide! Why the need to meet with an agency that treats the entire community as possessors of knowledge of criminal activities or similar?” it states.
“Even if the spooks turn up on your door step (again, not an uncommon occurrence), politely decline their request to talk and insist on your legal right not to.”