A story fluttered into my view on Facebook, that repository of factual information. I noticed a few other similar reports of the same incident and given the Here’s A Quick Recap Of All The Times Australia Treated Muslims Like Complete Garbage This Week I had read not long ago, together with the reports I was hearing on the radio about an attack on a woman on a train in Melbourne, later reported in The Age, there was little reason to disbelieve the incident had taken place. Let’s look at these two reports in a little more detail.
From the first link above:
… the last week or so has seen so much Muslim-bashing it’s almost like we’re back in 2001 again. Or 2005. Or 2006 — look, the point is, we’ve fallen back really, really hard into our nasty old habit of treating Muslims — or anyone we think is a Muslim — like the aliens in District 9.
From The Age:
A woman has been left traumatised after her head was smashed into the side of train carriage during an apparent racial attack in Melbourne’s north.
The 26-year-old victim was on an Upfield line train outbound on Thursday night when she was approached by another woman, who began hurling abusive and racist remarks.
WA Today recently reported:
A mother has been spat on, a baby’s pram kicked, a pig’s head has been impaled on a cross and mosques vandalised in a worrying escalation of attacks against Australian Muslims.
Therefore the report that a woman had had her hijab pulled off and been knocked to the ground wasn’t surprising. When I snipped this, I deliberately excluded the name of the person sharing the story as I didn’t want to send a myriad of trolls, or the ADL, in her direction.
This post included a photo of a young policewoman, which I have excluded here, as some people felt the fact the policewoman was smiling reflected badly on the police. I don’t. More on that in a moment.
I shared the story on Twitter and was taken to task on the basis the story was a) bullshit or b) a hoax.
The NSW Police very kindly provided a link to their media release on what is purported to be the incident in question.
Tuesday, 30 September 2014 02:44:21 AM
Police from Flemington Local Area Command are investigating an altercation that occurred between two women in a carpark at Silverwater yesterday.
About 5.30pm (Monday 29 September, 2014) police were called to Blaxland Park following reports of a verbal argument occurring between two women that appeared to be escalating.
On arrival officers spoke to two women about a reported dispute over a parking space.
As investigations continued one of the women collapsed.
The officers rendered first aid to the woman and loosened items of her clothing that were around her neck.
Ambulance Paramedics treated the woman at the location and conveyed her to Concord Hospital.
Inquiries into the incident continue and police are encouraging anyone who may have witnessed the altercation to contact them.
Police are urging anyone with information in relation to this incident to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or use the Crime Stoppers online reporting page: https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au/ Information you provide will be treated in the strictest of confidence. We remind people they should not report crime information via our Facebook and Twitter pages
One may or may not conclude this is the same incident. If we conclude these are two very different descriptions of the same incident there are certainly questions to be asked. But first I’d like to address the question of the young policewoman in the photo attached to the Facebook report.
Even if this report was a correct relating of the incident from the writer’s perspective, the fact the policewoman was smiling should not be interpreted negatively. She may have been smiling to reassure a concerned bystander of the woman’s condition or communicating her relief at the arrival of the paramedics. Police face difficult situations every day and what you or I may consider horrific can be quite mild in the list of events in a police person’s day. I would not read anything into such a smile at all, HOWEVER given the other events happening in Australia, I can understand people jumping to the wrong conclusion.
At the very least it would appear there was an incident. Had this been a hoax, that would have been totally unacceptable. Hoaxes of such a nature will only exacerbate an already fraught climate in the community. It is most likely the person posting the Facebook description of the incident has posted a “chinese whispers” version she believes to be correct. Equally, the NSW Police version is likely to be the bare bones of the incident as such media releases usually are for legal reasons. Note they are seeking witnesses. The truth is likely somewhere in between, assuming of course we are talking about the same incident.
This whole situation illustrates very clearly the damage wrought by exploiting the terrorism threat.
When it comes to exploitation of the terrorism threat, nobody’s hands are clean: not those of politicians, the media, or even our own, writes Paula Matthewson.
I may well incur the wrath of Paula for writing this! The end result of the exploitation Paula describes is a raising degree of both fear and distrust in our communities. In such an environment the bigots run riot and the victims can be left at best jumping at shadows (and I don’t blame them given the events of late), at worst suffering serious injury. It seems to be predominantly women being the brunt of the attacks, which is shocking.
The Facebook post highlights problems irrespective of the veracity of the post. If true, it is yet another ugly incident to add to an already extensive list and the fear felt by the Muslim community is palpable. If a hoax, it is an ugly hoax aimed at exacerbating an already tense climate. If it is an exaggerated report of the incident, the exaggeration itself is symptomatic of the fear being felt by many. We should be taking a very hard look at the price we are paying as a community to exploit the threat of terrorism.
Thankfully, many Australians are banding together to show support for our Muslim brothers and sisters.
Australians have banded together to demonstrate their support for the Muslim community by organising solidarity marches, setting up social media accounts and donning the hijab in public.
Thousands of people have joined efforts to promote social harmony, including a social media campaign called Women in Solidarity with Hijabis (WISH).
The campaign, which was inspired by a non-Muslim woman named Ruth who put on a hijab and posted her photo online, took off last week and within three days the Facebook page had more than 7000 likes.
Non-Muslim women are offering to accompany Muslim women on outings when they might otherwise have to travel alone or with their children.
Let’s not let the threat of terrorism tear our society apart. Otherwise the terrorists win. None of us want that.