The mother of late backpacker Mia Ayliffe-Chung has condemned Donald Trump for listing the killing of her daughter among 78 “under-reported terrorist attacks”.
Mia Ayliffe-Chung, 21, of Wirksworth, was stabbed to death at a hostel in Queensland, Australia in August 2016.
Tom Jackson, a second British backpacker, was stabbed as he tried to shield Mia. Tom, 30, died in hospital a week later as a result of his injuries.
Smail Ayad, the French backpacker accused of killing them, received a preliminary diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia. His case has been referred to the Mental Health Court and his fitness to stand trial is being assessed.
Mia and Tom’s deaths were listed on a White House release of terrorist acts that occurred between September 2014 and December 2016 – attacks that Mr Trump believes “have not received the media attention they deserved” in Western press.
Mia’s mother Rosie Ayliffe, wrote a post every day in the Independent the first week after her daughter’s death. In her first post, she challenged misrepresentations after it was alleged Ayad shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is Great) during the attack. Ms Ayliffe wrote at the time: “Much nonsense is being spoken in the press about her alleged killer. Smail Ayad – the French man being held on suspicion of my daughter’s murder – is not an Islamic fundamentalist, he has never set foot in a mosque.”
Ms Ayliffe said seeing her daughter’s death included on Mr Trump’s list, despite police saying the attack is not terror related and no charges related to terrorism ever being brought against Ayad, goes against everything she has said and done after her daughter’s death.
“We read from the Koran at Mia’s funeral,” said Ms Ayliffe. “The minister in the church was kind enough to let that happen because he believed in what I was trying to say and now Trump is trying to override everything we’ve done by claiming it went unreported.
Ms Ayliffe has written an open letter to Mr Trump. She said: “One of the reasons I took to blogging in The Independent was to discount this myth of a connection between my daughter’s death and Islamic fundamentalism. Any fool can shout Allahu Akbar as they commit a crime. 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.
“My daughter’s death will not be used to further this insane persecution of innocent people. The circumstances of Mia and Tom’s deaths prove that those with the strength of character to travel the world and learn about other cultures should be cherished as brave, resilient characters who have so much to offer if they are nurtured and given opportunities rather than defeated by adverse circumstances. I’m not going to let it happen, I will keep banging on. If there is a message to be gleaned from Mia and Tom’s death it’s more to do with how we need to cherish immigrants because they have the strength and tenacity to move from one place to another for a better life. They are people who can achieve great things if they are given a chance.”
Ms Ayliffe is campaigning to improve the working conditions for backpackers on Australian farms. Mia was working on a farm in Townsville where she was completing the 88 days of agricultural service required by the Australian Government for a second-year visa when she was killed. Her campaign, Tom and Mia’s Legacy, includes a petition calling on the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to regulate the work-visa scheme and an auction. “This disregard that he (Mr Trump) has demonstrated as well as the disregard on the part of the Australian Government towards their immigrant workforce is part of the problem, not part of the solution,” Ms Ayliffe added. “Injustice and disregard for human rights are becoming part of the political landscape and human landscape. It has to stop. People like me who can see what’s happening have to stand-up and say it’s wrong.”