Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

Going to Extremes to Figure out Radicals; Author 'Goes Rogue' withAussie Bigots for His New Book

Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

Going to Extremes to Figure out Radicals; Author 'Goes Rogue' withAussie Bigots for His New Book

Article excerpt

Byline: Letea Cavander

JOHN Safran is back and inviting readers to go with him down a rabbit hole of extreme political views and radicalisation in Australia.

The author is in the thick of it, again, from interviewing Aussie ISIS supporters to Reclaim Australia leaders, and the result is a complex and manic picture of some of Australia's extremists.

The book was written before Donald Trump's rise to the US presidency, in the midst of the Reclaim Australia rallies in 2015 and last year.

Safran arrives at a rally held in Melbourne, is recognised, and from there dives into the gonzo style of story-telling that he has embraced since his 2004 television series John Safran v God.

Safran talks to religious and political radicals, many born and raised on home soil.

Framing radicalisation in terms of religion, Safran says, is crucial to better understanding it. It is one of the things he wants readers to glean from the book.

"Religion is coursing through Australia at the moment in a way that people don't usually think about," he says.

"The way issues are discussed (is) through a really non-religious lens."

Safran says because it is often difficult for people to understand that extremists truly believe in magic, or that key religious figures are about to return, media organisations often frame issues in a more "palatable" way for the reader, listener or viewer.

"The key players in Reclaim Australia are really motivated by this belief that the Christian Messiah is about to return and there's spiritual warfare going on," Safran says.

"I also hung out with a couple of Australian ISIS supporters. And their belief in the scripture and their belief they have to go to Iraq or Syria to fight because the Muslim Messianic age is about to happen really drives them.

"That's so difficult to accept if you're a regular Aussie, because what do you do with that?

"People are driven to radicalisation because of isolation, and bigotry towards them, and foreign policy and all that is obviously true, but there is that other layer that is so important and is so difficult to get your head around. …

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