Australian Muslim leaders are calling for armed guards outside mosques and Islamic schools to protect them from ongoing right-wing threats, The Daily Mail reported.
“People with murderous designs have aggressively targeted mosques, synagogues, and churches because that is when worshippers are most vulnerable with their backs turned,” Bilal Rauf, spokesman of the Australian National Imams Council (ANIC), told The Australian.
ANIC said they were ready to pay guards with guns to stand outside religious buildings due to threats from right-wing extremists.
The declaration followed recent attacks targeting mosques. The latest came last September 11 when the walls of a mosque in Holland Park, Brisbane were defaced with a swastika, the words ‘Saint Tarrant’ – referring to the accused Christchurch gunman Brenton Tarrant – and ‘remove kebab’.
At the same mosque, worshippers were forced to lock themselves inside after a man was seen walking nearby with a machete, while in Canberra the city’s main mosque was vandalized.
“It is fair to say armed guards is one option, but we will work with appropriate authorities. Hopefully, it doesn’t come to that,” Rauf said.
“Post Christchurch and the increase in Islamophobia and threats at mosques, particularly the incidents at Holland Park and Canberra, we thought it appropriate to set up a committee to address that. Armed guards are just one option and not the standard,” Rauf told Daily Mail Australia.
“We are coordinating on the basis of community funding and volunteer assistance to provide advice on what might be needed and then the next step would be to assess the cost,” he said.
The ANIC has set up its own ‘safety and security committee’ and has hired security experts Joe Kabbara and Ahmed Homsi to advise them.
Terrorist Brenton Harrison Tarrant killed 51 Muslim worshippers in March-15 attacks as he targeted Al Noor and Linwood mosques.
Islam in New Zealand is adhered by about 1% of the total population. Small numbers of Muslim immigrants from South Asia and Eastern Europe settled in New Zealand from the early 1900s until the 1960s.