Australian treasurer Peter Costello has backed the Prime Minister in his comments regarding the need for some Australian Muslims to integrate into Australia and embrace Australian values. Needless to say, Muslim leaders are seething about it.
Muslim leaders have lashed out at Peter Costello, after the federal Treasurer called on them to condemn terrorism “unequivocally”, and speak out plainly and clearly against radicals in their community.
Mr Costello said they should “make it clear to would-be converts that when you join this religion you do not join a radical political ideology”.
But Muslim representatives said last night Mr Costello had not taken notice of what had already been said, and did not communicate with them.
Yasser Soliman, president of the Islamic Family and Childcare Agency in Victoria, said the Government’s Muslim Community Reference Group had “pledged loyalty to this country and condemned extremism and terrorism”. The Muslim leadership had done this repeatedly.
“Obviously Mr Costello is not in touch with the people he’s talking about ‚Äî he’s never bothered to talk with them,” he said.
Waleed Aly, board member of the Islamic Council of Victoria, said Muslim community leaders had been “speaking out unequivocally against terrorism pretty loudly and continuously for five years. If the Treasurer hasn’t heard that yet, I’m not sure what it will take.”
Interesting comments, especially coming from Waleed Aly. This is the same Waleed Aly who only a few months ago argued against the the banning of two books that promoted, supported and incited terrorism.
Two Islamic books have been banned after the Classification Review Board found they incited terrorism.
The books, Defence of the Muslim Lands, and Join the Caravan, have been refused classification and can no longer be sold within Australia or imported into the country.—-
The review board said in a statement that Defence of the Muslim Lands “promotes and incites in matters of crime, specifically terrorism acts, including the plan, action and execution of martyrdom operations”.
“The book is specific and explicit in its support for and encouragement of suicide bombing, including details for undertaking such crimes,” the board said.
The second book, Join the Caravan, also “has the objective purpose of promoting and inciting acts of terrorism against disbelievers and is a real and genuine call to specific action by Muslims to fight for Allah and engage in acts of violence”.—-
Islamic Council of Victoria spokesman Waleed Ali said the ban was not justified.
“We understand that the literature is demonstrably unsavoury but that’s different from saying that it necessarily causes a threat,” he said on ABC Radio.
Doesn’t seem to constitute “speaking out unequivocally against terrorism” to me.
Neither does this attempt by Aly to justify vile comments glorifying bin Laden:
Tony Jones: You have actually said in the past that Osama bin Laden is a very great man for some of his actions.
Sheik Mohammed Omran: This is as I said. When you look at the man from some part of his life, yes, he is. From another part, well, again, what action we are talking about? I dispute any evil action linked to bin Laden. Again, I don’t believe that even September 11 – from the beginning, I don’t believe that it has [been] done by any Muslim at all, or any other activities.—-
Some people suspect that Omran, because of his apparent support of bin Laden, supports terrorism. On the evidence of his Lateline
comments, however, this is unfair. Omran’s comments proceed on the
basis that bin Laden has never committed a terrorist act.
That may be a
difficult assumption to sustain on the evidence, but it cannot be construed as supporting the actions of a terrorist. Australians are free to find Omran’s comments delusional but, without more evidence, they cannot find them sinister.
And let us not forget this recent column from Aly, in which he criticized Assaf Namer, the IDF soldier who held dual Australian-Israeli citizenship, and in the process analogized Israel’s self-defence against Hizbullah (a terrorist organization) with Iran attacking England.
Last Wednesday, Assaf Namer, an Australian citizen fighting with the Israeli army in Lebanon, was killed in a Hezbollah ambush in Bint Jbeil. The outpouring of emotion from family and friends is understandable. The public testimonials to a man who loved Australia and had Australia in his heart are plentiful.
We have heard how he planned to return to Sydney, marry his girlfriend and spend his time between Australia and Israel. We have heard of his parents’ anxiety when he told them of his decision to volunteer for military service. What we have not heard is anyone condemning him, or questioning his credentials as an Australian for his demonstrably zealous loyalty to a foreign state.
Similarly, when Israel began pounding Lebanon, putting at risk the lives of thousands of Australian citizens, I don’t recall pro-Israeli spokespeople being bombarded with questions about whether their primary loyalty was to Israel or their fellow Australian citizens.—-
And if Iran was attacking England, leaving many London-based Australian citizens stranded, it surely would have been. And British-Australians (the largest group of Australians with dual citizenship) would, rightly, be unquestionably Australian.
And Aly’s not alone. The Islamic leadership in Australia have done anything but speak out “unequivocally against terrorism.” In fact, I would argue that they have been quite unequivocal in their support for terrorism. Take this recent report for example:
Prime Minister John Howard’s hand-picked Muslim advisory group has demanded to meet him to express its “outrage and anger” at the Government’s response to the killing of civilians in Lebanon.
The group’s chairman, Ameer Ali, is also pushing for Mr Howard to remove Hezbollah from a list of banned terrorist organisations, but the Prime Minister said yesterday there was “no chance, full stop” that the Government would rethink its position on that issue.—-
Dr Ali, who did not attend yesterday’s meeting, said he was writing to Mr Howard calling on him to change the classification of Hezbollah, a proscribed terrorist organisation since 2003.
“It’s unfair because classifying Hezbollah as a terrorist group is putting it on par with al-Qaeda, when it is totally different,” he said. “Hezbollah is the armed wing of the Shiite population in south Lebanon. They are not terrorists, they are fighting for their land, and there is nothing wrong in this.”
So it is pretty understandable why the Treasurer has not heard Muslim community leaders “speaking out unequivocally against terrorism pretty loudly and continuously for five years.” It simply hasn’t happened.