When 20-year-old Mia Ayliffe-Chung was brutally murdered at a Home Hill backpackers hostel in Queensland, the media were quick to point the finger at Islamic extremism.
Witnesses say that Frenchman Smail Ayad went on a frenzied rampage, dragging Mia from her bed before stabbing her to death. Thirty-year-old Tom Jackson, another British backpacker was fatally injured as he tried to save her and died in hospital several days later.
Ayad allegedly shouted “Allahu Akbar” during the attack, which was enough to raise suspicions. But while Mia and Tom’s deaths were tragic, they weren’t an act of terror. In fact, the police ruled terrorism out of the picture within days of the incident.
Despite this, Mia and Tom’s deaths have been included on a White House list of 78 terror attacks that Donald Trump claim were not adequately reported. Understandably, Mia’s mum, 53-year-old Rosie Ayliffe is furious.
In an open letter to Trump published on Facebook, Ayliffe says that she worked hard to discount the myth that Mia’s death had been linked to Islamic fundamentalism. “Any fool can shout Allahu Akbar as they commit a crime,” she writes.
“I have lived and worked in the Islamic world for a number of years, and wrote ‘the Rough Guide to Turkey’. Some of the research was carried out with Mia as a baby. Mia travelled In Turkey and Morocco too, albeit too briefly. We encountered nothing but respect and hospitality from people who are committed to courtesy and honouring their fellow human beings.
“This vilification of whole nation states and their people based on religion is a terrifying reminder of the horror that can ensue when we allow ourselves to be led by ignorant people into darkness and hatred.”
“My daughter's death will not be used to further this insane persecution of innocent people" Rosie AyliffeMother of Mia Ayliffe-Chung
Since Mia’s death, Ayliffe has been tirelessly campaigning for changes to be made to the visa scheme that took her daughter to Home Hill in the first place. Mia was working towards completing 88 days of farm work in order to qualify for a second year in Australia.
But conditions at Home Hill were tough. There wasn’t enough work to go round, which meant that backpackers desperate for work were competing with one another.
Ayliffe says that there was a “febrile and aggressive atmosphere” which made Ayad’s attack less surprising. It has also been alleged that Ayad had become infatuated with Mia and that drugs, alcohol and mental illness may have also played a part.
Together with Tom Jackson’s parents, Les and Sandra Jackson, Aylife has started a group called ‘Tom & Mia’s Legacy’. They’re hoping to create better awareness about the exploitation young backpackers frequently experience while doing farm work in Australia.
Speaking to Marie Claire, Aylife says while Trump was wrong about Mia and Tom’s deaths being terror related there is a connection between them and the Muslims that he has left waiting around at airports all over the states.
“Immigrants and migrant workers the world over are treated as disposable commodities, and my daughter was no exception,” she says.
Ayliffe notes that Mia should have been protected from Ayad, who had allegedly threatened to murder his fellow backpackers in the weeks before the attack. “Instead she was placed in a dormitory with him. Her basic human right for protection was disregarded, and so it is for so many of the strongest bravest people, who cross continents in order to find a better life,” she says.
“This is a sad reality of our modern world, and I will do my best to address one small part of that by campaigning against the 88 days of farm work in Australia.”
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