An Attack on Freedom and Democracy

This week marks the eighth anniversary of the horrific attacks on the World Trade Centre and the US Pentagon, known around the world as 9/11. Some will seek to characterise these attacks as specific to the United States, but in reality, they were an attack on all Western nations.

For good and for bad, the USA is regarded as a beacon of freedom and democracy. Due to its enormous influence on world affairs, it became and remains the symbolic and economic leader of the West. As such, the Islamic fundamentalists who struck on September 11, 2001, attacked not only America but the very heart of modern society.

Australia too is a nation of freedom and democracy. Whilst we have been fortunate not to have suffered a recent terrorist attack on our shores, our national psyche has been touched by terrorist acts abroad.

The 2002 Bali bombings, in which 88 Australians were killed while partying in two nightclubs, brought the horror and reality of Islamic fundamentalism into every Australian lounge room.

In 2003, a Sydney man, Faheem Khalid Lodhi, was accused of trying to bomb the Sydney electricity grid in the cause of violent Jihad. He was later sentenced to 20 years in jail. Another group of nine men were convicted of planning terrorist attacks targeting the AFL Grand Final and the Australian Grand Prix. These are only two examples of a longer list of domestic terrorist threats against Australia.

More recently, media reports of local terrorist ‘cells’ operating within suburbia and planning attacks on our military bases with training and support from foreign militias should give every Australian cause for concern.

We cannot afford to be complacent in our fight against extremism in all its forms. Our nation has been a tolerant and homogenous one, where freedom and hope have helped bring prosperity and happiness. These are under threat by those who seek to replace our secular culture and laws with that of an intolerant and extremist form of religious rule.

The impact of those attacks on American soil eight years ago has been felt around the world. They have brought a new awareness that there are those in our community who seek to destroy our way of life, our culture and our freedoms in the name of their extremist fundamentalism.

Whilst for many, the horrors of 9/11 may seem a distant memory, we should never forget that there will always be those who wish to change our world through violence and intimidation. Our responsibility is to never allow them to do so.

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