Islamophobia and antisemitism condemned, as MSM exploits Bondi stabbing tragedy

April 15, 2024
Westfield Bondi where the mentally unwell man launched his attack. Image: Green Left

The Jewish Council of Australia (JCA) and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Australia are among many organisations of people of faith that have condemned efforts to weaponise the tragic stabbings on April 13 at Westfield shopping Centre in Bondi.

A mentally unwell man went on the attack at Westfield Bondi Junction shopping centre, killing six people and injuring at least 12. Several people tried to stop him, including a security guard, before he was shot dead by a NSW Police officer.

JCA said expressed its condolences to the victims’ families, saying it was concerned at the “troubling narratives” and “rhetoric” coming from mainstream media and “some notorious antisemites and fascists”.

“Following the attack, Channel 7 irresponsibly repeated false information spread by antisemitic accounts on social media that the attacker’s name was ‘Benjamin Cohen’.

“Right-wing Islamophobic groups also spread disinformation that the stabbings were an ‘Islamist’ attack. Some even outrageously tried to link the event to the Palestine solidarity movement.”

JCA spokesperson Dr Max Kaiser said the wrong name of the attacker “was deliberately spread by notorious antisemites and fascists attempting to use this tragedy to drive anti-Semitism”.

“We unequivocally condemn any attempts to stoke fear, hatred, or discrimination against migrants, Muslims or Jews in the aftermath of this horrific event,” Kaiser said.

Sarah Schwartz, another JCA spokesperson, said the tragic attack must not be “exploited for political gain or to stoke Islamophobia or antisemitism”.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Australia said on April 14 its members are mourning the loss of Faraz Tahir, a 30–year old security guard, who tried to stop the attacker.

Tahir, a refugee from Pakistan who sought refuge in Australia a year ago, was fleeing persecution. He quickly became “integral” to the community and was “known for his unwavering dedication and kindness” and his contribution to the organisation’s charity work.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, established in 1889, spans more than 200 countries and has a membership exceeding tens of millions. It advocates for peace and harmony, the separation of religion and state and the safeguarding religious and other minority groups.

The Guardian reported on April 15 that several X accounts, “including those of journalists and far-right political leaders in the UK, speculated without evidence that the person responsible was motivated by Islamic faith”.

Julia Hartley-Brewer, a presenter on British channel TalkTV who claim “Islamist ideology” is a “the problem”, first claimed the attacker was an “Islamist terrorist” and then had to retract.

Britain First co-founder Paul Golding said on X “the mother died at the hands of Islamic terrorist in Sydney … how many more must die before we admit we have a huge problem is Islamic extremists”. He has not retracted or corrected the comment, which has now been viewed 317,000 times.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese conceded on April 15 that more could be done to bolster mental health services across the country.

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