On 26 August, the Al-Taqwa Masjid mosque in the Perth suburb of Mirrabooka, where more than 2,000 Muslims regularly come to pray, was firebombed using improvised explosives. While fortunately nobody was hurt, the mosque suffered up to $250,000 worth of damage.
Had a church been firebombed by Muslims, the city would have been in lockdown and a state of hysteria declared. In this case, the arson squad has yet to make a single arrest.
It’s not an isolated incident either. There has been a disturbing pattern of far right racist attacks on the Perth Muslim community over the last decade.
In 2016, the Mosque and Australian Islamic College in the suburb of Thornlie was firebombed in a similar way to the Mirrabooka incident. Attackers used an improvised petrol bomb to blow up the gas tank of a car outside the mosque while hundreds of worshippers were praying inside. Islamophobic graffiti along a wall next to the burning car confirmed the racist motivations of the attackers. Two years on and no arrests have been made.
In 2010, two far right thugs carried out a drive-by shooting at the Suleymaniye Mosque in Queens Park, firing three bullets into the domed roof of the building. After their arrest, it was revealed the shooters were members of “Combat 18”, a neo-Nazi terrorist organisation.
And the same Mirrabooka mosque firebombed in August was also subject to a drive-by shooting in 2006.
In addition to these violent attacks, locations associated with the Perth Muslim community are regularly subjected to vandalism and harassment.
In 2015, a pig’s head was dumped in the bathroom of the Muslim prayer room at the University of Western Australia. So likely is the prospect of vandalism and attacks that insurance companies often refuse to insure mosques. Indeed, the Al-Taqwa Masjid mosque was uninsured at the time of the firebombing for this reason.
And Muslims are not the only group to experience these sorts of attacks.
In 2004, three separate Chinese restaurants were firebombed and graffitied with Nazi swastikas. These attacks were the work of notorious neo-Nazi Jack van Tongeren, who led a similar spate of attacks in the 1980s.
It is no coincidence that there has been a resurgence of such attacks. The endless whipping up of Islamophobia by mainstream politicians and the media, as well as the strengthening of far right groups inside and outside of parliament, has emboldened violent racists.
Islamophobic electoral outfits like the Australian Liberty Alliance and the WA branch of One Nation are attempting to break into state politics, while fascist thugs like the WA branches of the True Blue Crew and the Proud Boys are building up a right wing movement on the streets of Perth.
This only encourages far right terrorists like Melbourne’s Philip Galea, currently facing trial for planning to bomb several left wing venues in 2016, including Trades Hall.
Systematically confronting the far right when they mobilise is then an important part of standing in solidarity with Muslims and putting an end to right wing terrorism and violence.