Mike Baird Holds Radicalisation Talks With Islamic Leaders

12/10/2015 5:27 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:50 PM AEST
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New South Wales state Premier Mike Baird (R) and police commissioner Andrew Scipione (L) speak to the media in Sydney on October 3, 2015, the day after an attack in Sydney in which a 15-year-old gunman shot dead a civilian police employee. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on October 3 that the attack in Sydney appeared to have been an act of terrorism. AFP PHOTO/William WEST (Photo credit should read WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)

NSW Premier Mike Baird and police have met with leaders of the state’s Muslim community to discuss the radicalisation of young people following the murder of a police employee in Parramatta earlier this month.

Curtis Cheng was shot and killed outside police headquarters in Parramatta on October 2 by 15-year-old Farhad Jabar, whose actions the police have described as an act of terrorism.

On Monday Baird and Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione met with leaders of the Islamic Community in Sydney, along with opposition leader Luke Foley and Labor MP Jihad Dib.

After the meeting, Baird promised programs to combat radicalisation would be rolled out in the coming weeks.

He said there was three main areas of focus at Monday’s discussion: working with families, schools and strategies for working with various community groups.

“There will be a number of initiatives we will be rolling forward, but most importantly it will be done together in consultation with those leaders that we have around the table,” the Premier said.

“It will, I think, make a difference, as they are rolled out."

But he remained mum on the specifics of what initiatives were discussed.

“The government can’t decide that they want to undertake a range of measures, you can only do it together,” he said.

"What is clear is there's a determination around that table to make sure we do everything to stop these events from happening."

"There is a long journey on this.

He said the police would play a critical role, but stressed their involvement would not be the sole solution.

Labor MP Jihad Dib said the meeting focused on generating solutions from all parts of the community.

A former school principal, Dib said changing mindsets and emphasising social cohesion were key, and urged other principals to engage with children as much as they can.

Neil El-Kodomi, chairman of the Parramatta Islamic Association, said the meeting discussed bringing youths out of isolation.

Curtin University Counter Terrorism Expert, Dr Anne Aly, said countering radicalisation cannot be left to government alone.

Measures that focus on preventing extremism, rather than countering it, are needed.

“Because if you’re at the stage where you have to counter it then you’re only doing interventionist and knee jerk reactions,” she told The Huffington Post Australia.

“I think that it involves things like more education for young people, more capacity building.”

Aly cited civil society groups in the US, Europe and the UK – such as the London-Based Quilliam Foundation – which focus on counter extremism.

Aly runs PAVE (People Against Violent Extremism), an Australian based non-government organisation that researches and combats extremism.

“We just don’t have strong civil society groups here in Australia with that capacity,” she said.

She said capitalising on the social cohesion approach to combating radicalisation is the way to go -- because no social cohesion creates an environment where radicalisation takes hold.

“If people aren’t socially included, if there is no social mobility, if people don’t have a connection and a willingness to connect with structures and even with other people then you have environments where violent extremism can rear its ugly head,” she said.

“We need to move forward in a more cooperative way.”

On Thursday Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is expected to meet with security chiefs in Canberra to discuss combating the spread of violent extremism.

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