News.com.au, August 26, 2016
Queensland’s police minister Bill Byrne has called for an end to “opportunistic commentary” on extremism following the murder of a British backpacker in the state’s north.
Mia Ayliffe-Chung, 21, was stabbed at Shelly’s Backpackers in Home Hill, southeast of Townsville, on Tuesday night, allegedly at the hands of French national Smail Ayad.
Mr Byrne said there was no immediate evidence to suggest extremism as a motive. As police continued to interview 30 witnesses who saw the shocking attack, federal politicians began to link the incident to a debate on immigration. One Nation Senator Pauline Hanson used the tragedy to reissue calls for a moratorium on Muslim immigration.
“I’m not going to be silenced on yet another attack involving Islamic extremism–especially one occurring in the state I am representing in the Senate,” she said.
Nationals MP George Christensen and independent Bob Katter have also called for a ban on Middle Eastern and North African migrants.
While not referring to any politician specifically, Mr Byrne said some of the commentary from “predictable sources” was highly speculative and unhelpful. “There’ll be those that seek to exploit this incident,” he said. “What is required here is cool, calm and thoughtful consideration.” Mr Byrne urged commentators to consider the ongoing investigation before making statements in public.
“It’s really opportunistic, in some ways, to make commentary on this set of circumstances,” he said.
While police have said Ayad allegedly yelled “Allahu Akbar” during the rampage, his apparent infatuation with Ms Ayliffe-Chung is forming as another consideration for detectives. One man who is said to have come to Mia’s aid is fighting for his life from injuries he sustained int he attack.
Superintendent Ray Rohweder said mental health elements were also being considered.
“We’re certainly not ruling anything out but what I can say is at this stage there is absolutely no indication of any form of radicalisation or any political motive in relation to this matter,” he said.
Supt Rohweder and Mr Byrne’s comments appeared to have left no impression on Mr Christensen, who took to Facebook to criticise the “political correctness brigade”.