An Australian Muslim was acquitted of attempting to kill or grievously injure a police officer, based in part on the judge's decision that a vague and unsubstantiated "anti-Muslim feeling in the community" had helped make the perpetrator skittish enough to open fire out of fear. The verdict in the non-jury trial came in June, but a suppression order kept it hidden until last month.
On November 8, 2005, four policemen were dispatched to arrest a man identified in publicly available records only as BUSB. Upon being approached in a Sydney suburb, BUSB spun around, pulled out a gun, and fired, hitting a sergeant in the hand. Another officer then shot and wounded BUSB, who was taken into custody.
"The man maintained he did not fire at police but at the horizon in what was intended to be a warning shot so he could flee," the Daily Telegraph reports. He "testified he was sick at the time and jumpy about surveillance and possible police questions." Laughable? Yes. But Judge Leonie Flannery accepted the argument, agreeing that BUSB may have fired a "warning shot in panic." More disturbing is her malformed sentence explaining the purported cause of BUSB's anxiety:
I am not satisfied that he put the Browning [pistol] in his pants because he was planning to shoot his arresting officers, rather he did so because he was concerned for his safety, and the state he was in brought about his illness, his concern that he was going to be arrested, and the climate of anti-Muslim feeling in the community at the time, he believed that he might be harmed by the police.
The context makes her decision even more alarming: the officers had been sent to arrest BUSB on terrorism charges. Judge Flannery's ruling acknowledges that BUSB "had with him … two loaded guns in connection with the preparation for a terrorist act." Found to possess jihadist propaganda, weapons, acids, and instructions for explosives, BUSB pleaded guilty to terrorism counts in 2008 and is serving at least 14 years — facts presumably known to Judge Flannery.
That BUSB did not get off scot-free does not excuse the judge for ratifying the defense's assertion that the shooting was mitigated by "an environment of anti-Muslim feeling, which engendered in the Muslim community a high sense of paranoia." Islamists often claim that bias against Muslims motivates investigations and prosecutions, but this may be the first criminal case in which "Islamophobia" was successfully employed to defend a Muslim's violent deeds.
Columnist Gerard Henderson ponders, "Would a Jew be entitled to cite a climate of anti-Semitism in the community as affecting the intention of an act which he/she had committed with respect to police? What about a Hindu?" To ask these questions is to answer them. Jews, Hindus, and others are treated like adults; Muslims frequently are viewed as children lacking self-control.
"Islamophobia" is no longer just a tool to silence critics of Islamism. In at least one jurisdiction, it has morphed into a legal defense for terrorists who shoot cops. If there is any remaining doubt regarding the pernicious trajectory of the "Islamophobia" meme, the above case should dispel it.