'Hate crimes against Muslims very possible following Sydney siege'
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.
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.
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.
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