Freed Aussie Journalist Peter Greste’s Takes On Terrorism And Islam Absolutely Killed It On ‘Q&A’

He probably couldn't get a job at the Daily Telegraph, but still.

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Last night Al-Jazeera journalist and Brisbane local Peter Greste, who was jailed by the Egyptian government for 400 days for publishing stories the regime found inconvenient, appeared on the ABC’s Q&A last night, and it was worth tuning in. Not only was Q&A eminently watchable for once, Greste raised some seriously compelling and concerning arguments on debates like data retention, terrorism and press freedom that ran rings around the panel’s two politicians, Assistant Minister for Social Services Mitch Fifield and Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Development and Infrastructure Alannah MacTiernan.

Of particular interest to Greste was the recently-passed metadata retention laws, which were waved through Parliament with bipartisan support despite serious flaws which Junkee has covered exhaustively before. Greste was understandably critical of laws passed without proper scrutiny under the figleaf of terrorism and “national security,” considering a similar justification was used to imprison him in Egypt.

“Terrorism is clearly a big issue — I’m not trying to minimise the impact of terrorism on the community — but I think there is a real danger that terrorism is used as kind of a scare tactic, as this way of the government taking this as an opportunity to impose all sorts of draconian restrictions and limitations, which it would never get away with under other circumstances,” Greste said. “I think we need to be very careful about slipping into the trap of accepting terrorism as an excuse for all sorts of controls that we wouldn’t, under other circumstances.”

Greste, who has extensive experience working in Middle Eastern nations, also provided some much-needed perspective on the frequently-hysterical debate in Australia regarding Islam. When answering a question on the apparent trend of young men in Western countries going to fight for ISIS, Greste responded with the kind of thoughtful and considered opinion that it’d be nice to hear a senior politician voice every once in a while.

“There’s a lot of talk about how disaffected youth seem to be winding up in these places, and I think that’s a great myth. There’s a sense in the Islamic community and the Islamic world that Islam is under attack…When I speak to them it’s hard to disagree, or it’s hard not to see their point of view,” Greste said.

“They’re incredibly angry with the way Muslims are treated by the Israelis, for example…They’re incredibly angry at the way the United States and its allies have behaved in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they respond to these kinds of Millennial statements from the Americans who talk about the War on Terror, who talk about a ‘clash of civilisations’, and they take that to mean themselves.”

Now that Greste is back in the country for good, hopefully he’ll continue to provide a welcome voice of reason in the face of the kind of stuff that could be randomly produced by the Daily Telegraph Headline Generator.