Sunday, September 10, 2006

John Howards calls people out.

Australia: This is why he remains one of my favorite leaders. Plain talk.

JOHN Howard has called on moderate Muslims to speak out more often against terrorism and declared it is no good "pussyfooting around" about Islamic terrorists. The Prime Minister believes Australians have a sensible, uncowed view of terrorism and that everyone, including Muslims, knows Islamic extremists are responsible for the threat and the tougher security laws that entails. "People in Australia are in no doubt that extreme Islam is responsible for terrorism," Mr Howard said in an interview with The Australian to mark the fifth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks on the US that killed nearly 3000 people, including 10 Australians. ....Mr Howard said that it was illogical for civil libertarians to attack the Australian Government for changes to its security laws because terrorists - "Osama and his grisly band" - were responsible. "I accept that in a free society you have to justify reductions in people's liberties. I accept that, bearing in mind my starting point is that the most important human right is the right to life," he said. Mr Howard, who was in Washington when the Pentagon was hit by a hijacked plane, said at the time that he knew something enormous had occurred but did not know who was responsible or what the consequences would be. "I knew ... the world was quite never going to be the same again. You couldn't escape the realisation that this was something like nothing else," he recalled. He had met Mr Bush the day before the attacks, and "George Bush and I didn't talk about terrorism on September 10, 2001". The Prime Minister said Australians had "adjusted in a very sensible way" since then. "They understand things have changed, they accept the need for new laws, they support those laws but they are getting on with their lives and doing the things we want to do while having in the back of our minds there may be one day a terrorist attack which (will) inflict mass casualties on this country," Mr Howard said. "That's the mood of the people, that's how they think. You can't down tools and stay at home and stop going to the football or the cricket or stop travelling on trains or aircraft. "It doesn't alter what I do and shouldn't alter what I do." Mr Howard was criticised two weeks ago for suggesting a small minority of Muslim immigrants refused to learn English or integrate into Australian society. But he told The Australian that despite the criticism, people, including moderate Muslims, knew extremists were the common thread of terrorism. "We shouldn't pussyfoot around. No decent, genuine Muslim would support terrorism," he said. "We are not attacking Muslims generally but you have to call terrorism for what it is - it is a movement that invokes in a totally blasphemous and illegitimate way the sanction of Islam to justify what it does." Mr Howard also said he thought it would help more if "on occasions they (moderate Muslims) should come out and be more critical of terrorism". "We are confronting people who would deny our human rights," he said. When people were subjected to searches or reduced liberty, he said, "the people who should be blamed are the terrorists, not the Government. The terrorists have made it necessary". "I find it amazing civil libertarians run around and attack me, or (British Prime Minister) Tony Blair or attack the police," Mr Howard said. "We haven't done it. We are the instruments of the changed circumstances in people's lives, but the cause is the terrorist threat." Mr Howard said the September 11 attacks had fundamentally changed politics in Australia. "It is a new dimension, a new element, and when I was elected I never dreamt the biggest thing I would confront would be the terrorist threat. It wasn't there," he said. "We have invested $8.3 billion in enhanced security and I wish we could have spent it on something else. But who has made it necessary? Osama and his grisly band. "I don't talk up the terrorist threat; I just call it as it is."

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