Peter Khalil: I rise to speak of the abhorrent terrorist attack in the Somali capital of Mogadishu this past Saturday which killed at least 320 innocent civilians and injured 500 more. Al-Shabaab, an affiliate of al-Qaeda, has a history of launching bomb attacks against innocent civilians. This despicable attack is another setback in Somalia’s decade-long struggle against these terrorists. The sheer scale of the loss of human life is mind numbing. It’s the deadliest-ever attack on Somali soil and the deadliest terrorist attack the world has seen in many, many years.
It has greatly shaken the Somali community in my home state of Victoria, many of whom have themselves fled the violence in their homeland to seek refuge in Australia. Their population has grown from less than 250 in 1990 to almost 8,000 today and, during this period of significant growth, they’ve made remarkable contributions to Australian society and have affirmed their place in our proud multicultural society. Many would have family in Mogadishu, and they are deeply affected by these attacks.
It is saddening that there has been relatively minimal media coverage of these attacks. But here in this parliament, I, as an African-Australian MP, say that Somali lives matter, that African lives matter, and I call on the government to provide strong support not only to assist the Somali people to rebuild but to send a strong message to the Somali community here in Australia and worldwide that we as Australians stand united with Somalia and Somali Australians against this evil.