Thursday, February 23, 2006

Costello: You want Sharia law, go elsewhere.

Australia: Of course this turns into they are just bashing Muslims for Muslim sakes by various leaders.

Prime Minister John Howard has refused Muslim calls to censure Treasurer Peter Costello over comments he made about Islamic extremists. And Mr Costello has challenged Muslim leaders to pledge their allegiance to Australia before they criticise him over his comments about citizenship. Muslim leaders have called for Mr Howard to censure Mr Costello over his speech last night to the Sydney Institute in which he said anyone who believed Islamic sharia law could co-exist with Australian law should move to a country where they felt more comfortable. Islamic Friendship Association president Keysar Trad said Mr Costello had unfairly singled out Muslims and was promoting division and Islamophobia. But Mr Howard said Mr Costello's comments were "fundamentally accurate". "He's not trying to stir up hostilities with Islamic people any more than I was when I made some comments three days before the Cronulla riots," Mr Howard told Southern Cross Broadcasting in Melbourne. Mr Costello said Muslim leaders should be pledging themselves and their followers to Australian values before they started criticising him. "Rather than try and censure me ... they should make a clear statement that they subscribe to all of these views - that they are loyal to Australia, they respect the rights and liberties of others, they believe in democratic government and they believe that all Australians should live unequivocally under the one law made by the Australian parliament - and endorse these values and recommend them to their followers," Mr Costello told Southern Cross Broadcasting. "Pledge themselves unequivocally to these values first of all, and then call on their followers to pledge themselves unequivocally to these values. "This is what I would invite them to do, rather than to criticise me because all Australians should in my view subscribe to these values."
Some are not happy, but one guy agreed with him.
The president of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, Ameer Ali, says Mr Costello's comments are ignorant and, along with the Prime Minister's views, show a government move away from multiculturalism. He says giving constant publicity to radical Muslims is not helpful and the Treasurer should stick to managing the economy. "Why does he give importance to these tiny people? He quotes some imam, some name. Nobody's heard about this person. I think they have to come clean on this," he said. "Are we going to embrace multiculturalism or are we going back to the White Australia Policy? "That is the fear that I am having now, having listened to all these comments cropping up from the government's side." 'Creating more fear' Director of the Forum on Australia's Islamic Relations (FAIR) Kuranda Seyit says Mr Costello's comments are a deliberate ploy to stir up fear and hatred. "It's creating more fear and Islamophobia, which just adds to the credibility and the strength of the Liberal government, which has survived for so long because its been able to create fear and suspicion around Muslims," he said. The chairwoman of the Federation of Ethnic Communities' Councils of Australia, Voula Messineri, agrees the comments are a departure from Australia's multicultural values. She says the Treasurer is helping to marginalise a vulnerable group. "What people are thinking about in the mainstream is that Muslims are to be feared and that is very, very unfortunate," she said. Abdul Khan from the Islamic Society of the Northern Territory, who has dual citizenship of Australia and Pakistan, agrees with Mr Costello's comments. "Really it's a great comment that he's made," he said. "People must contribute, here, to the wellbeing of the society and they must do the right thing. They should be law-abiding citizens of the country."

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