BRANDIS: 'Not every mass casualty attack is an act of terrorism'

Police and fire services clean the area the shooting occured outside the OEZ shopping center, the day after a shooting spree left nine victims dead on July 23, 2016 in Munich, Germany. Photo: Joerg Koch/ Getty Images.

Following the mass shooting in Munich over the weekend, which saw 10 people killed and another dozen injured, Australia’s attorney-general George Brandis has said people need to be careful not to label every attack as terrorism.

Speaking on ABC TV’s “Insiders” last night, Brandis said: “Not every mass casualty attack is an act of terrorism. Not every premeditated act of violence is an act of terrorism.

“Our law has a very specific definition of terrorism. Terrorism is an act of violence or a threat of violence perpetrated for a political, religious or ideological cause, to coerce government or to intimidate the public.”

There were fears the attack was motivated by a radical Islamist ideology of the kind apparently held by the attackers in the recent terror attacks in southern Germany and Nice, France, which were both claimed by the Islamic State group. But German prosecutors have since said the attack does not appear to be explicitly political in motivation.

“If we’re going to understand this problem we have to anatomise it correctly. We must be very careful in our use of language so that we don’t spray the word terrorism around too loosely,” Brandis said.

On Facebook, following the news out of Munich, senator-elect Pauline Hanson said: “We’re waking up again to what appears to be another terrorism attack in Munich, Germany… Let’s see which ‘peace loving’ religion is behind this latest attack.”

To this Brandis said Hanson and her One Nation colleagues’ views on Islam and immigration were “unhelpful and, frankly, wrong”.

And while he said the Coalition needed to address it he also said Hanson’s opinions shouldn’t be ignored.

“I have always believed that it is absolutely the wrong idea to try and silence such people, to silence that point of view because it’s a point of view that exists in the community. Half a million people voted for Pauline Hanson or her candidates in the Senate,” he said.

“The way to deal with those people is to explain why they are wrong. To pretend that Pauline Hanson is not part of the national conversation when for heaven’s sake we’re talking about her right now, she’s just been elected to the Senate, is ludicrous.

“What we have to do is we have to engage her, we have to explain why the views that she expresses about, for example, the Muslim community, are unhelpful and frankly wrong.”

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