Former prime minister Tony Abbott has come out strong on terror in the wake of the London attack this past weekend. The Member for Warringah has been talking tough on Islam, urging world leaders to take action and not soften in the face of radical terror.
"We've got to avoid any spirit of surrender, any spirit of defeatism and all too often in officialdom's ranks there is this notion that Islamophobia is almost as big a problem as Islamist terrorism," Abbott said on Monday.
"Well, Islamophobia hasn't killed anyone, Islamist terrorism has now killed tens of thousands of people. That's why it's absolutely critical that there be the strongest possible response at every level."
Few would disagree with his sentiments about not surrendering and wanting a strong response, and any civilised person would support the call to stand strong and not be cowed by terror. But the fact is, Abbott is just downright wrong when he says "Islamophobia hasn't killed anyone".
There have been numerous reported cases of Islamophobia leading to deaths and serious injuries all around the world -- there's even an entire lengthy Wikipedia article devoted to the subject, listing almost 200 incidents of Islamophobic attacks in 32 countries.
This is not to equate these deaths with those killed by terrorists, or to downplay the horror of terrorism. But to say "Islamophobia hasn't killed anyone" is incorrect.
HuffPost Australia has contacted Abbott's office for comment.
Many of the attacks on that list may not have been inspired entirely by Islamophobia -- indeed, the article stresses the attacks are ones which "could be considered Islamophobic". In addition, the majority of the incidents on the list did not lead to deaths, only injuries. However, even in recent months, several high-profile killings have been linked to Islamophobia.
Just last week, Islamophobia was indirectly linked for the death of two men in Portland. A man on a train allegedly began abusing two teenagers, one of whom was wearing a hijab.
"Go home. We need Americans here!" the man allegedly said. One of the teenage girls targeted claimed "he told us to go back to Saudi Arabia and he told us we shouldn't be here, to get out of his country."
When two other men intervened in an attempt to calm the situation, the first man allegedly stabbed them. The men later died.
Six peopled died during a shooting at a mosque in Quebec, Canada, in January. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau bluntly stated the location was targeted for its link to Islam: "Make no mistake, this was a terrorist attack. This was a group of innocents targeted for practicing their faith," he said.
"Islamophobia has killed innocent Canadians," the Canadian Council of Imams said after the incident.
In New York, in 2012, a woman was charged with manslaughter after pushing a man onto train tracks. Police reported that she admitted "I pushed a Muslim off the train tracks because I hate Hindus and Muslims ever since 2001 when they put down the twin towers I've been beating them up."
In 2015, she was sentenced to 24 years jail.
These are just three of the more high-profile fatal incidents blamed specifically on Islamophobia. There are many more.
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