Bourke Street attack: Somali-Australians condemn ‘scourge’ of terrorism



Somali-Australians have called for unity after a terrorist attack in Melbourne.

Somali-Australians have spoken out after Friday’s Bourke Street Mall incident, strongly denouncing the actions of Hassan Khalif Shire Ali.

In what is being treated as a terrorist attack, Mr Shire Ali set a car alight then stabbed three men, one who died from his injuries.

After lunging at an officer with a knife, the 30-year-old Somali-Australian was shot and killed by police.

Acting spokesperson for the Somali Community of Victoria Sharmake Farah told reporters on Saturday the “African Australian community is shocked and deeply saddened” by Friday’s events.

“The overwhelming majority of African-Australians in Victoria are law-abiding and condemn any acts that threaten our peaceful, vibrant and multicultural state … that we love so dearly.”

“We are members of a wider Australian community. We have to stand united against such acts. And it’s important for us to come out and make this statement, to make clear that the act that happened yesterday do not reflect African values.”

The Somali Community of Victoria released a statement earlier in the day saying “there is no place for terrorism or extremism in our society”.

“Somali-Australians are peaceful people, terrorism is a disease and scourge on society, we must do everything we can to ensure it is eradicated.

The group called on Australians to “come together, to stand against acts of terrorism”.

While IS has claimed responsibility for the attack, security experts say it is too early to confirm whether it was planned or directed by the group.

Director of National Security Policy at the ANU National Security College Jacinta Carroll told SBS News: “IS of course has a methodology where they will claim any attack that in a very broad sense appears to be in line with what their group does… whether they directed it or not”

It comes as Prime Minister Scott Morrison called out the “great threat” of extremist Islam.

“I’ve got to call this out, radical violent extremist Islam opposes our very way of life… I am the first to protect religious freedom in this country, but that also means I must be the first to call out religious extremism,” he said on Saturday.

Mr Morrison said there was a “special responsibility on religious leaders to protect their religious communities”.

He said such leaders need to “ensure that dangerous teachings and ideologies do not take root here”.

“They must be proactive. They must be alert and they must call this out in their communities.”

However, Labor MP and counter-terrorism expert Anne Aly warned politicians against using language “that is going to divide the community”.

Ms Aly said they should not “single out religions, single out communities… causing divisions where we don’t need divisions to be caused”.

Opposition leader made brief comment on the “senseless, evil murder” while appearing at Melbourne CBD on Saturday.

“We need to be ruthless and relentless against people who are going commit this sort of violence in whatever twisted, perverse definition of religion or ideology makes them to this.”

Two police investigations are underway into the Bourke Street attack, one team is preparing a brief for the coroner while counter-terrorism police have executed search warrants on properties in the Melbourne suburbs of Meadow Heights and Werribee.



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