Labor calls for end to government attacks on Islam

Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus at a meeting of the Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security at Parliament House in Canberra. AAP Image/Lukas Coch

Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus. AAP Image/Lukas Coch

Canberra, AAP – Federal Labor has accused coalition MPs of undermining prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s call for community cohesion in the fight against terrorism.

Labor frontbenchers Tony Burke and Mark Dreyfus said the language used by some government MPs calling for Islam to change risked returning to ‘old rhetoric’ of the Liberal party.

Mr Dreyfus pointed to the prime minister’s comments that Islamic State extremists strategically sought division to further their cause.

‘While he’s out of the country it seems members of his own party are doing just that – irresponsibly stirring up division between Muslim and non-Muslims,’ he told parliament on Monday.

He accused Liberal MP Andrew Hastie of arrogance in lecturing Muslims about their faith, after the former SAS commander called for a debate on the links between Islamic teaching and terrorism.

‘What hypocrisy from a politician who has quite rightly insisted that his private faith had little to do with his contribution to public life.’

Mr Burke pleaded with fellow MPs to stop attacking Muslim community allies vital in the fight against terrorism.

He said Resources Minister Josh Frydenberg’s comments on the Grand Mufti were ‘needlessly aggressive’ and ‘self-defeating’, adding others who’ve joined such statements risked reigniting sectarian debates.

‘To those who’ve made comments in the last few days which have reverberated around the country and stoked division: please stop – this helps no one.’

Their comments came following hours of debate in federal parliament on Islam and terrorism.

After earlier calling for a reformation within Islam, Liberal Michael Sukkar said Islamic leaders must do more to condemn acts of violence otherwise they risked fuelling extremists within the religion.

Australia must be prepared to talk about why a small number of Muslims were attracted to ideologies that would harm the country, he said.


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