'Hate crimes against Muslims very possible following Sydney siege'

'Hate crimes against Muslims very possible following Sydney siege'
The Australian government needs to provide more backing for Sydney's Muslim community, student activist Fatema Ali told RT. She said she believes hate crimes are very possible following Sunday's hostage situation at a local café.

RT:What, in your opinion, could have led to this man taking hostages in Australia?

Fatema Ali: First of all, the ideology is very much being bred in Sydney within very extremist schools and very, very extremist Islamic centers. I don’t like to use the word “Islamic,” because I don’t think this is a representation of Islamism at all...I know a lot of people don’t agree with me on this. However, I do believe that.

A couple of months ago, the Australian government had a few anti-terrorism raids within a few suburbs within Sydney. And I feel like had that been more effective, had that been more well-organized, we could have caught people like this man and we could have prevented attacks like this.Muslims listen Eid al-Fitr sermons at the Lakemba Mosque in western Sydney (AFP Photo / Saeed Khan)

RT:What about Muslims themselves? Some Muslims fear they could fall victim to hate crimes now. Is that a genuine concern?

FA: Absolutely. Just today, there have been many stories coming in from people of Muslim backgrounds [who are] in fear, having people scream at them basically within the streets. Especially visibly appearing Muslims such as women wearing a hijab or a headscarf. I generally do believe that hate crimes are very possible, especially [regarding] experience within the Sydney community. In previous years we found that after things like this, hate crimes do increase and attacks on Muslim women especially do increase.

RT:With that in mind, should the Australian government review its policies in the Middle East?

FA: Absolutely...as an Iraqi, I don’t think it was good to go straight into Iraq or to go behind the West and help within the operations in Iraq and Syria. And I feel like more communication should have occurred between the Australian community and the Muslim community here. There has been such an increase in the lack of communication and a lack of assurance of our safety. A couple of months ago, a Muslim man was shot by ISIS-sympathizing terrorists outside a Shia mosque. There needs to be more communication and more backing of the Australian government of [the] Muslim community here in Sydney.

Reuters / Daniel Munoz

RT:The flag displayed in the cafe's window is said to be a jihadist battle flag, but it is not associated with any group specifically. Do you think the attacker was acting alone?

FA: I do believe he was attacking alone. Just regarding the flag, it has been linked with jihadist groups. But the flag itself simply has a declaration of faith. Just the words on it would not have been linked to any jihadist groups....however, it is simply a declaration of faith...and it has been desecrated by people like this man. But I do believe that he is alone.

RT:What is your personal take on this situation? What are your feelings as you look at the proceedings happening here?

FA: Just yesterday I was there, I passed that café. Me and a group of Muslim youth gave out roses to quell recent Islamophobic attacks. At the moment, I personally feel very terrified for my safety and for the safety of Australians that have fallen victim to this crime. It is an absolute crime. As I watched the hostages escaping or being released, I still don’t know. I had not just a sense of relief, but a sense of fear for the rest of the hostages [who were] still in there. It is absolutely terrifying to know that this is simply in our backyard in Sydney. It is horrific and it is an absolute crime. We as a Muslim community and Australian community and as a white Australian condemn these kinds of attacks.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.