Australia's Islamic leadership missing in action

25 July 2014

There has been a deafening silence from Australian Islam's clerical leaders on the problem of 'Aussie jihadists' travelling to fight in Syria and Iraq, Australian National University expert on political Islam Dr Rodger Shanahan has said.

In a new research paper, Dr Shanahan, Visiting Fellow at the ANU National Security College, said that young Australians travelling to the Middle East to kill or die in the name of religion is a new and disturbing development for our country.

"Government programs designed to counter violent extremism have not been a success judging by the numbers of foreign fighters who continue to travel to countries to conduct violent jihad," Dr Shanahan said.

"The Syrian and Iraqi conflicts are providing individuals from dozens of countries with military training along with a dangerously exclusive ideology."

Dr Shanahan's research reveals that, unlike its UK counterpart, Australia's Muslim leadership has been virtually silent in making any attempt at entering the public discourse.

"Australian Muslim clerics have failed to undertake an active and engaging social media campaign to provide a counter-narrative to those who see something praiseworthy in killing in God's name," he said.

"There is no single solution to this problem, but a unified, socially adroit and media-savvy clerical leadership is part of it.

"Only they can construct the counter-narrative that can blunt the siren call of the jihadists' slick social media campaigns."

Dr Shanahan's research paper is available HERE.