An Islamic religious leader has called for the extremists behind the Parramatta shooting to ‘stop messing with Australia’ in remarks where he stopped short of describing the incident as an act of terror.
Grand Mufti of Australia Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohamed joined community leaders on Friday morning in coming together to ‘refuse and reject’ all terrorist acts and extend their condolences to the families of the dead.
‘We say to those who supported that, stop messing with Australia and its society,’ Dr Mohamed said via an interpreter, when he was asked what his message was for extremists in the Australian community.
Pressed over whether he believed the shooting could be considered a terrorist act, Dr Mohamed – an acclaimed Egyptian-born author and thinker who moved to Australia from Abu Dhabi in 1997 – said he could not say as there is not yet enough information.
‘There’s not enough information so far about that. Without enough information and given we are not an investigating body, I cannot comment on that.’
‘Generally speaking and utterly, we refuse and reject any form of terrorist activities, whether this, if it’s proven to be a terrorist act, or any other one.’
In the aftermath of the attack, NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione described 15-year-old gunman Farhad Jabar’s attack as ‘politically motivated and therefore linked to terrorism’.
Finance worker Curtis Cheng was gunned down by Jabar, a Year 10 student at the nearby Arthur Phillip High School, as he left the office for the week on his way home from work.
The gunman, from North Parramatta, wore a black robe and reportedly shouted religious slogans before he was shot dead by police special constables.
A police investigation into the incident remains underway, with counter-terrorism raids across western Sydney on Wednesday said to be linked to the attack.
During Friday’s media conference, the Grand Mufti called for better dialogue between Muslim families, the wider community and security agencies, such as ASIO and the police.
‘What we need is collaboration and proper communication between the families and the community and us.
‘We also need proper forms of communication with the government institutions like security agencies, police because these are the agencies that are responsible for the protection of us and everybody.
‘We want proper forms of dialogue between us and the rest of the Australian society, proper dialogue so that we can engage into learning exercises and to refute any misperceptions
‘We believe that dialogue is the prerequisite of understanding.’
Islamic community leaders told the press conference they had seen a spike in hate messages and threats of violence since the shooting.
‘We call upon people of good will to stand against fearmongering and injustice,’ a spokeswoman told reporters.
‘The issue of violent extremism is a rare but serious problem facing the entire community. Sadly, a very, very small number of Australians of Muslim faith have chosen this path.
‘There are no simple answers to the problem.’
Father Rod Bower of Gosford Anglican Church said the collective response to the shooting would ‘determine how we live as a community for generations to come’.
‘These conversations are of ultimate importance. I come with a personal commitment to participate in a conversation but not in the narrative that has in some ways contributed to this tragedy. That is the dualistic story line of a them and us.’
United Muslim Women Association director Maha Abdo said the Muslim community had been ‘under siege’ in the past week.