Student Falsely Accused

At the end of August, a Student from the University of New South Wales was arrested and accused of being a terrorist. Articles like this ‘REVEALED: Lone wolf’s terror hit list‘ and ‘Malcolm Turnbull ‘included on uni staffer terror accused’s hit list’‘ were published and Mohamed Kamer Nilar Nizamdeen’s name was plastered all over TVs and Newspapers as well as photos of the Sri Lankan Student being everywhere.

Mohamed Kamer Nilar Nizamdeen.jpg

He was imprisoned in a high-security prison for a month. The charges were then dropped as the sole piece of evidence, a notebook containing terror plot(s) was found to not have been written by Nizamdeen. However, he still spent four weeks in a high-security prison. He had been wrongfully accused, and unlawfully imprisoned. However, not only was he imprisoned, his reputation was destroyed by the media. Does this come back to the old saying “don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story?”

Since it was released that Nizamdeen is innocent, it has been nearly 2 months and there has been an occasional news story online. Where is the media’s apology, where is the sensationalization of “Young Student Wrongly accused and unlawfully imprisoned.” Again, as I seem to keep on saying on my little blog, where is the outrage? Furthermore, I only just discovered that Nizamdeen had even been cleared of all charges through stumbling across an article on the ABC website. The media’s portrayal of Nizamdeen is problematic for multiple reasons; it boosts fear within society, by telling us that there is an extreme terrorist who wants to kill high up members of cabinet, when this may not be the case, as Nizamdeen is claiming to have been framed, therefore this implies that there is no threat to the Australian people; furthermore, as Nizamdeen is an international student, it again creates the ‘us and them’ dynamic that divides Australia further. Regardless, Nizamdeen has been labelled a terrorist, which it has been shown that he isn’t; this tarnishes his reputation, and diminishes his future opportunities, as accusations never wash away completely. This is not okay, and the Australian media that have slandered Nizamdeen need to clearly articulate that he has been cleared of all charges and that he is an innocent man. Furthermore, I personally believe that apologies are in order from the various media outlets.

Nizamdeen also believes that he has been mistreated by the media and is suing specific media outlets for defamation, which he rightfully should. Police have said that they will pay for the legal costs for this whole incident. However, Nizamdeen still plans to sue Police over his arrest.

This situation should have been avoided. This unlawful detention shouldn’t have occurred. The media should have and in the future should approach their techniques of reporting on accusations differently and remember that people are innocent until proven guilty. Mohamed

The November Bourke Street Attack

On Friday the 9th of November, Hassan Khalif Shire Ali set alight his Vehicle and then stabbed three people in the Melbourne CBD. He was shot dead by police, and one of the people he stabbed died at the scene. It was a horrific and devastating attack. That should be condemned by all. Within hours the media was announcing that it was a terrorist attack, and maybe it was. It has now been four days, and the media is still covering the attack. The media has been discussing the loss of life, and the perpetrator Shire Ali, but also the heroes, such as the police who were at the scene and the ‘Trolley Man.”  However, the police have also been criticised for shooting Shire Ali, especially since the police officer who fired the deadly shot only graduated from the Police academy three months ago. The loss of life and the injuries (both physical and mental) are all tragic, however, in my personal opinion, I don’t believe the media’s coverage or our Prime Minister’s various public statements have been productive for the Australian Community.

For example, Scott Morison in one of his various public statements stated that Muslim Leaders have to take more responsibility for stamping out radicalism in their communities. (See article from the Sydney Morning Herald) While at the surface level this seems like a fair statement, it creates an ‘Us and Them’ dynamic. This dynamic divides Australia even further and after an attack like this, we need to come together not be pushed further apart. Regardless, this argument/statement falls flat as it has been released that Shire Ali had not attended his Mosque in nearly 20 years. How were the Muslim Leaders supposed to take more responsibility when he wasn’t even present or apart of his Islamic community.

The media is not innocent an innocent bystander, it has been creating fear and spreading hate. But what can we expect? Fear sells newspapers. How can newspaper headlines like “Kick Them Out” and “Refusal to tell the truth on Islam” be acceptable? This is racism, this is marginalising an entire group, because of the act of one man. This coverage has been continuous, and unforgiving and the fact it has been in combination with the words of OUR Prime Minister, it is disastrous.Hate

Regardless, it has also been released that Shire Ali was delusional and paranoid, as well as suffering from substance abuse. We don’t know if he was on drugs at the time of the attack because the toxicology report hasn’t been released to the public yet. Furthermore, a family friend has stated that Shire Ali believed that people with spears were following him. He was legitimately delusional. He was not mentally sound at the time of the attack; and we will never know if he perpetrated this attack because of his delusions, or if it was an act of terror. We can make assumptions and try to piece it together but we will never know because he is dead. To make matters worse, Scott Morrison also dismissed any and all claims about the mental health of Shire Ali, in saying that it was merely an ‘excuse’ for his actions. The last time I checked, Scott Morison wasn’t a psychologist, a mental health professional or someone that had even met Shire Ali, so how can he have the audacity to even make that call.

To prove the point about the damage that the media and specifically Scott Morison have caused in their coverage of this horrific attack we can simply reflect on popular Google searches performed since the attack. “Muslim Scum” has been searched exponentially more since this attack and Google refers to this tremendous increase in searches as a ‘Break out.’ “Muslim Attack” has been searched 1200% more, “Muslim Terrorist” has also been searched 250% more, and “Islamic Terrorism” has been searched 50% more. Is this not damaging to a whole community of people, the fact that people are searching and thinking that Muslims are Scum, and that Muslims are terrorists. This is simply not the whole truth, the large majority of people in the Islamic Community are loving and kind, this small majority that commit these terrible acts, make it so much harder for that majority. So I believe that the Current Government and the media with their cheap tactics need to have a serious look at themselves and realise that what they say and what they publish has a major effect on so many innocent people. As a society, we need to look past this hate and move past the fear. We need to create a loving and inclusive community that embraces our diversity, and works together to eliminate terrorism and extremism together. This cannot and will not be achieved if we continue to accept the ‘us and them’ dynamic. We cannot and will not have a constructive and safe society if we all continue to be absorbed by the fear and hatred that covers our screens and newspapers.

Is it not time to change?

Recently a woman by the name of Toyah was brutally murdered in Northern Queensland while walking her dog. She was walking along the beach on a sunny afternoon. This was just another woman that has died due to violence in 2018. This was just another woman who has died while going about a regular daytime task, a task that she should have been safe, but she wasn’t. Tonya’s death, her murder started the discussion and the standard disagreement over social media about men needing to change.

So before I begin this controversial post, I want to say a few things. Not all men are murders, not all men are violent, not all men rape women, not all men abuse women, but some men do.

I shared this post by Kon K on my facebook page. It was mostly well received, except for some upset comments from some men in my life.

Kon's post about Tonya

After posting this picture, I was sent an article by a friend about more men being murdered in Australia than women. This article was sent to me with the following comment “why are female deaths such an outrage, when in 2017 60 more males died to violent deaths than females did. 108 compared to 48.” All of these deaths were tragic and could have been prevented, and yes there were more male deaths, however, 82% of these deaths were alleged to perpetrated by men. I am not saying that all men are the problem, but what I am saying is that statistically more men commit violent crimes when directly compared to women.

However, I don’t think that all men are inherently more violent.  I believe that society and societies expectations of men force them to be. In 2018 gender roles still remain so prevalent, and masculinity still remains socially expected. With this in mind, men can’t help but react differently to women in social situations. Men aren’t supposed to show emotion or talk about their problems, and when they do it is seen as taboo. This needs to change. Gender roles, and a toxic level masculinity leads to so many issues and problems; without a change in the way we view men, a change in the way men view other men, we will never escape this cycle of violence.

Recently I watched two social experiment videos on youtube. Both videos were about leaving children without adult control in a house for 5 days. These two social experiments had one key difference; one had 10 boys, the other had 10 girls in the social experiment. The results of each experiment were interesting, in both experiments, there were cases of bullying, isolation and lots of sugar consumed. However, personally, the most memorable feature was that the boys absolutely and purposefully destroyed the house in which the social experiment took place. The girls while causing drama, mischieve, and accidental damage, did not necessarily cause purposeful harm or property damage.  Is this just boys being boys? Or is there an actual underlying issue here?

I personally believe that there is an underlying issue. Men are still taught that they cannot cry, they cannot show emotion as previously mentioned, also femininity is still used as an insult; ‘don’t be a sissy,’ ‘you throw like a girl,’ ‘be a man.’ This has implications on both the men and women of society. Men are taught that there is something inherently bad about being a woman, and women are taught that being a woman is inferior. Women are still taught to be gentle, and sweet and kind. Whereas men are taught to be strong and smart. In school, we were sat down at lunchtime and told that the way we were sitting in class (in our dresses that had to be longer than knee length) was distracting male students and teachers, the boys were never told to change anything they were doing. When I was attending a church summer camp the girls were told to be mindful of what we wore as our ‘brothers’ were built differently and we had to be respectful to their needs. Is this not problematic? As children, we were told to react and change to cater for the men in our lives but this was not taught to our male counterparts. Society seems to be raising boys and girls differently, and not in a progressive or productive manner. Yes, we are improving, yes times are changing but Australia still has one of the highest rates of sexual harassment and assault in the world, maybe this can be related to the lack of respect that is taught to us as children. Maybe we should be changing and speaking out against this. By we, I mean MEN and WOMEN, because we will never create meaningful change if only one half of society is speaking out for it.

Furthermore, I see a level of disrespect towards women so often in my everyday life. At university, I have been faced with male students talking over and interrupting me as I speak, as if their opinions and arguments are more important than mine. I have faced disrespect within the workforce, being called Sweety, and Princess by a male colleague, to which I confronted, and he didn’t see the problem. I have been involved in conversations with young men about women’s health, as they believe they have a say over what women do over their own bodies, and instead of having reasonable arguments they have informed me that I am obviously just not loved. I have seen women be physically abused on the streets in broad daylight and stood there shaking as I called the police. I have held my friends as they sobbed because they had been violated by men. I have been catcalled when walking in the middle of the day by groups of men driving past. I am also sure that many other women have experienced similar experiences because it happens every day.  Women deal with prejudice that I have not seen men have to deal with, but not only that, everything I have mentioned from my personal experience stems from a lack of respect towards women. I am not disregarding men’s struggles, young men are the most at risk category for suicide and are less likely to receive custody of their children, but I believe these are overarching social issues, they do not stem from a lack of respect towards men.

Why did I mention all of these issues? Why did I mention these examples? I mention them because they all have to do with how we raise our children. They all have to do with the respect towards women but also how men are taught to behave. Men are taught not to be feminine, they are taught to be strong and show no emotion, this leads to so many issues, that need to be solved. Boys need to be shown that it is okay to show emotion, and that it is okay to not always be strong. We all need to stop using feminity as an insult, and call out sexism and misogyny that we see in our society.

My call to action is this:

Men,

When you see your friends being sexist, catcalling, or violent. Call them out. Speak to them. When young men are playing sports, don’t tell them to man up, don’t tell them that they’re playing like a girl, because being a girl isn’t an insult. Being masculine isn’t necessarily better. When one of your mates, or yourself is struggling, talk about what is bothering you, find healthy ways to deal with your emotions, and ask your mates how they’re really doing. Join the discussion, ask the women in your lives what they face on a daily basis, ask them if they’ve ever been disrespected, and listen to them. Remember to be kind.

Women,

When men in your lives are being sexist, or disrespectful; speak up. If you’re being interrupted, speak up, ask to be able to finish your sentence, argument or idea. Remember to ask the men in your lives how they are really doing, and support them if they’re having a hard time. Start conversations with the men in your lives, tell them how your feeling, tell them about the issues you face, because they may not even realise. Let men join this fight for equality, and for safety because we will never create meaningful change if only one half of society is speaking out for it. Most of all remember to be kind.