Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott raised his nation’s terror threat level from medium to high Friday, and Australia’s Muslims aren’t happy about it.
The heightened level puts Australia’s 500,000 Muslims — about 2 percent of the population — at risk of “increased prejudice” and greater “Islamaphobia,” the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils says, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Federation spokesman Keysar Trad said raising the level “only increases pressure on the Muslim community.”
Other Muslim leaders agreed.
“People going to Syria and Iraq make up a very marginal number of Muslims,” Australian Islamic Mission Secretary Seyed Sheriffdeen told the Morning Herald, calling the new threat level “an overreaction” and predicting that all Muslims would suffer under it.
But Abbott said the alert level had nothing to do with religion. It was designed, he said, to ensure the safety and security of the public.
Raising the level to “high” from “medium” indicates that the Australian government believes that a terror attack is “likely” to happen, not just that one “could.”
While Abbot did not specify why he raised the level, some have speculated that it comes in response to fears that Islamic State terrorists will react violently to Australian support for the strategy President Barack Obama laid out in a recent address to combat the group, according to Reuters.
“We cannot bring Australians together and combat extremism at home by blindly following the U.S.A. into yet another Iraq war,” Opposition Greens Party leader Senator Christine Milne said.
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