Where else would they come from?

Minister Dutton says that 2/3 of people recently charged with terrorism in Australia have Lebanese Muslim backgrounds. However, the first rule when considering dramatic statistics should be to think “compared to what”. In this case, where else might we expect Islamic extremists to come from? A quick look at the Australian Census tells us that this statistic is not so exceptional. Now that Islamic terrorism has arisen and spread (in a small way) to Australia, it is not at all surprising that most people involved will be of Lebanese background. This is simply because they are the largest relevant population group in Australia.

Simplifying somewhat, the majority of people seeking to undertake terrorist acts in the name of Islam in Western societies have been young adults (mainly men) who are second or third generation migrants. Moreover, such violent acts are just as much political as religious acts and have been concentrated in the diaspora of countries with on-going political-religious conflict.

The table below shows the self-reported ancestries of young people who were born in Australia and reported Islam as their religion in the 2011 Census. Lebanese was the most common ancestry (about 18,000), followed by Turkish and then Australian. (Up to two responses were permitted, of which Australian was often the second). If we exclude those parts of the world which have not been sources of Islamic terrorism, Lebanese youth make up 47% of the total, followed by Turkish at 26%.

Why have Lebanese, but not Turkish youth, appeared in Dutton’s statistics? The answer is much more likely to be found in the political environment of the home country than in anything inherent to the migrant population in Australia. Despite a range of groups exercising political violence in Turkey, it has not been a country where Islamic violence has focused on Western interests (until very recently, and even then it is probably not ‘home grown’).

Interestingly, if we include Turkey as a non-starter as a source of terrorist recruits, Lebanese youth make up just under 2/3 of the ‘population at risk’ in the table – the same as Dutton’s statistic.

Ancestry1

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6 Responses to Where else would they come from?

  1. Lorikeet says:

    As I remember, Chris Bowen (Labor) signed an immigration agreement with Afghanistan in January 2011, or it could have been January 2012. Therefore the 2011 census statistics are too out of date to be relevant.

    Peter Dutton is probably not picking on Turkish migrants, as Turkey is currently aiding and abetting the USA in gaining access to oil and is tied up in the bombing/decimation of Syria.

  2. Jim says:

    And if we did some ‘Dutton-like’ select-o-statistics would we also find that (say)….. 95% of alcohol-fuelled violence and 95% of the value of white collar crime was perpetrated by white men of “Australian” ancestry…… or that politicians have a higher probability of having a criminal record than the population as a whole (I did actually look at this a few years ago and this was the case for Queensland politicians).

    We deserve so much better from our elected officials than the dribble Mr Dutton gives us.

  3. Lorikeet says:

    I think the whole issue of terrorism has been seriously overblown, as the government keeps trying to take away our democratic rights of Free Speech and Assembly. One man told me he was sure 2 police marksmen could have taken out the guy involved in the Lindt Cafe siege by hitting him with 1 shot in each shoulder. This would have caused him to drop the gun and fall over backwards, with no one else getting injured.

    This issue was done to death on national television in order to scare us. All of the money wasted on a huge shrine filled with flowers could have been spent feeding and clothing the homeless.

    If Queensland Police have such an issue with terrorists, why did they knock back a person with a degree in Psychology (Counter Terrorism Major) for employment?

  4. paul frijters says:

    I am much more interested in the numbers of problem-persons.

    According to some report, there were 18 convictions for terrorism related activities. That is about 1 in a 1,000 of the “at risk” population, not counting the many who will slip through the net. It would be a few in a thousand if we would count those, one presumes.

    Is that a lot or is that a few? If we’d have the same ratio in France, that would make quite a few divisions. Yet, compared to ordinary murderers in Australia, its tiny. Compared to the resources spent on containment, its tiny.

    • Patrick says:

      My understanding is that France has arrested over 300 people for terrorism-related offences since January but of course
      – arrests are not convictions,
      – I think this includes arrest for promoting terrorism (i.e. social media comments); and
      – I am not sure there is an official source for that.

  5. Lorikeet says:

    I think the Australian government would be wise to address various issues that create racist and religionist problems. At the top of the list would be addressing high levels of unemployment and underemployment which are cleverly disguised by fudging the figures. I don’t think too many people who are getting only 1 or 2 hours of work a week would considered themselves “employed”. The word “abused” would be a better descriptor.

    The government could also grant timely citizenship to the huge numbers of visa holders who are currently employed as slaves; overworked, underpaid and being subjected to dangerous working conditions.

    The government could also cut the number of migrants and visa holders it admits to the country until it raises access to manufacturing work for all Australians and achieves full employment.

    No country needs a government which attempts to crush unemployed people and senior citizens while it fails to tax the rich.

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