An Australian Islamic group wants government-sponsored “safe spaces” provided for young Muslims to discuss “inflammatory” issues away from broader public scrutiny.
In a submission to an Australian parliamentary inquiry into freedom of religion, the Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV) said such taxpayer-funded forums enabled opinions to be “respectfully and intelligently debated and challenged” while also helping to combat alleged “mental health” problems in the young Muslim community in the State of Victoria.
The ICV claimed “Muslim Victorians experience religious intolerance in the form of Islamophobia, racial abuse and breaches of our universal human rights.” The alleged inability of Muslim adherents to safely practice their religion without feeling subject to surveillance is a “human rights issue,” according to the ICV.
The call comes just days after 29-year-old Somali refugee Yacub Khayre took a hostage, killed a man, and wounded three police officers in Melbourne. The terrorist explicitly dedicated the attack to the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, while Islamic State swiftly claimed him as a “soldier” of the caliphate.
ICV spokesman Adel Salman said they did not consider the “safe space” proposal controversial, because it is a practice he claimed – without providing evidence – is already used with young people in other countries.
“This is about good practice because the youth require an avenue to express their views in a safe environment… where they feel their views are valued, where they can be respectfully challenged and counter views presented,” Mr. Salman said.
He said such spaces would be “conducted with experts who are familiar with the methodology, and understand the way the conversation can be guided”.
Victoria State Premier Daniel Andrews ruled out any possibility of funding such an initiative.
“I am very troubled by the suggestion that we might have a space where people could be radical as part of a de-radicalisation programme. That makes no sense to me whatsoever”.
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