Police are detecting the potential for racially motivated reprisal attacks after Friday’s fatal shooting of police accountant Curtis Cheng in Parramatta, in Sydney’s west.
Groups are popping up in large numbers on social media calling for revenge.
New South Wales Police Deputy Commissioner Nick Kaldas has issued them a stern warning.
“We are monitoring very closely,” Mr Kaldas said.
“If you do call for violence and you do advocate violence against a particular group that is – or could well be – a crime and there will be consequences.”
But a tribute page for the shooter, 15 year old, Farhad Jabar, is already inflaming tensions for calling him a “real Muslim” and labelling Australians “the real terrorists”.
The anti-Islamist Australian Defence League has also called for mosques and Muslims to be targeted.
Meanwhile, One Nation Leader Pauline Hanson took to breakfast TV to take aim at Islam, after reading excerpts from the Qur’an on air.
She believes people with Islamic backgrounds should no longer be allowed into the country.
“This is the only religion we’ve had so many problems with in Australia, it’s not about religion,” she argued.
“This is a political ideology that is not compatible with our culture, our way of life.”
But Nick Kaldas has appealed for a united front.
“What happened on Friday night was a tragedy,” he said.
“What we can’t allow to happen is to let that tragedy divide us, to split us apart, and to start finger pointing at each other and perhaps even taking revenge on each other.”
Islamic community leader and father of the year, Dr Jamal Rifi, agrees.
“Extremists and racists want to divide us and they don’t want us to be united,” he argued.
“So the best response we can have right now is to be united in this adversity.”
Dr Rifi believes combating extremism begins at home, a point echoed by Nick Kaldas.
“The people who will solve this first and foremost are the community; the parents, the mums and dads, brothers and sisters and cousins who deal with these kids who have run off the tracks,” Mr Kaldas said.
“The police can’t be in every lounge room and neither do we want to be.”
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says the government must also constantly calibrate its efforts against online radicalisation.
“What we have to do is ensure that all the time our efforts to counter radicalisation are as effective as possible, and we have to be agile in the way we do it,” the Prime Minister said.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says it is a bipartisan approach to take down such networks.
“These organisations preying upon young people are a sort of political, or a terrorist version of the paedophiles who prey upon young people too, it’s just unacceptable,” he said.
Premier [email protected] ‘s words on #ParramattaShooting pic.twitter杭州桑拿会所,/qHHW3lAxfD
— Mariam Veiszadeh (@MariamVeiszadeh) October 3, 2015We cannot let actions like this divide us, or let hate overtake us. This city and this state must remain united. We must stick together.
— Mike Baird (@mikebairdMP) October 3, 2015
The police investigation has now turned to Farhad Jabar’s network of friends at school.
In a statement released through NSW Police, Mr Cheng’s family thanked the community for their well wishes and blessings.
“We are deeply saddened and heartbroken that he has been taken from us, but we are truly grateful for the fruitful and happy life he has shared with us,” the statement said.
“He will be missed by all of us. We will cherish our memory of him forever.”
Police Association appeal for the family of Curtis Cheng. NSW Police Legacy Appeal BSB:815 000 AC:276953S1(omit S1 if not from Police Bank)
— NSW Police (@nswpolice) October 3, 2015
The radical Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir has denied links to Farhad Jabar in a statement.
It’s been reported that he attended a lecture by the group at Parramatta Mosque on Friday, shortly before gunning down veteran police accountant Curtis Cheng, 58, as he left work at the Parramatta police headquarters on Friday.
But Hizb ut-Tahrir said it held no lectures that day and labelled claims the teen was affiliated with the group as “groundless and absurd”.
Hear more from NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Nick Kaldas: