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We Spoke to a Guy Teaching the Queensland Police About Islamic Culture

With counter-terrorism operations producing a surprisingly low number of convictions, Queensland Police are learning the difference between what's suspicious and simply unfamiliar.

Ali Kadri. Image via

Last year the Australian Federal Police coordinated a counter-terrorism raid at nearly 30 properties across Brisbane and Sydney, only to achieve a handful of arrests. In Brisbane charges against the state's only arrested suspect were dropped, which kind of highlighted the fact that while Australia is trying to combat radicalism, there's some uncertainty about how best to proceed.

This issue is being taken particularly seriously in Queensland. There a new training program is guiding police officers through the nuances of Islamic culture, to try and illuminate the difference between what's suspicious, and what's simply unfamiliar.


Ali Kadri is a spokesperson from the Islamic Council of Queensland (ICQ), and one of the trainers at the program. He explained to VICE what they're doing.

VICE: Hi Ali, can you just clarify a little more what the program is achieving?
Ali Kadri: The idea is to explain to police officers why Muslims do certain things at certain times, or why a Muslim would have a certain thing in their house or car. It will allow police to be more effective, to target more crime, and not waste time.

What does the program involve?
We have Muslim representatives traveling around Queensland, covering the basics of Islam. We spend four hours with the officers over a course of four days and usually run through a few case scenarios. For example, if police want to interview a Muslim during the fasting month (Ramadan) at 5PM, and the Muslim person doesn't want to, it isn't because they are trying to hide anything. It is because they haven't eaten or drunk anything all day and want to meet at a different time. It's about creating a better understanding for police officers.

How do the police officers respond?
The feedback has been very positive. It's creating a scenario where they are doing their job in a way that's culturally appropriate and more effective.

Do you think there is much understanding in the law enforcement community about the causes of terrorism?
I think it's not just the authorities, I think there is a general lack of understanding from everyone. Terrorism has different forms. It's all based on political connotations and not religious connotations because terrorism exists in a political vacuum. For example, without Jihad wars there would be no ISIS.


I think that we all agree when it comes to foreign fighters and domestic terrorism in most cases, that we are seeing a serious identity crisis amongst some young Muslim men. I think to address that, the only solution is to bringing these people out. Engage these people with the wider community and create more transparency.

Some people might argue that's a soft approach.
A few people were skeptical about this whole course, especially on some right-wing Facebook pages. But they need to understand that this is not about some special treatment of Muslims. It's to make us all safe, Muslims and non-Muslims. Having a more knowledgeable force makes the whole community safer, and then they can address issues that need attention, rather than chasing the tails of unnecessary stuff.

Was there a previous approach to this?
The previous approach has been to apply a solution, which I guess was bought out in academic paper, rather than a more practical approach. There was less of a balance, between academic research and what was happening on the ground. Now, there is a good mixture of both.

I know that with right-wing extremists and with Muslims it's like "We are damned if we do and we are damned if we don't." I don't take it too hard, I think it's important that Australian people know that the Australian Police force are arguably one of the best in the world, the most aware and informed.

It makes sense for the police to be aware but why does the Islamic community want to be involved?
It would make sense that an actual Muslim would be giving that information, rather than a non-Muslim expert coming and giving a lecture on Islam. Also we are a part of the Australian community and our nation is a multicultural one. Our goal is to communicate and engage with all sectors of society. The relationship we have with the government and the police force is of mutual respect and equal footing.