News National Abbott’s comments ‘unhelpful’, ‘divisive’: Indonesia
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Abbott’s comments ‘unhelpful’, ‘divisive’: Indonesia

AAP
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Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has drawn criticism from regional neighbour Indonesia over his call for change within Islam.

Indonesia’s ambassador, Nadjib Riphat Kesoema, has delivered his response to Mr Abbott’s critique.

“This is a time when all nations must unite to defeat the scourge of terrorism,” Mr Kesoema said.

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“A rhetoric boasting of cultural and religious superiority over other cultures and religions is unhelpful to the cause and divisive.”

The ambassador has also called for strong cooperation with Australia against terrorism.

“It is important for us including the multicultural societies of Australia and Indonesia to keep our focus on efforts to creating a long-term solution to the common challenges of violent extremism that we face,” Mr Kesoema said.

“Violent extremism is the common challenges of all religions: Buddha, Christianity, Hindu, Islam and all faiths.”

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Tony Abbott is calling for a reshaping of the Islamic faith. Photo: AAP

Mr Abbott used an interview on Sky News and a News Corp opinion column to argue for a “religious revolution”.

“We’ve got to work closely with live-and-let-live Muslims because there needs to be, as president [Abdel Fattah] Al-Sisi of Egypt has said, a religious revolution inside Islam,” Mr Abbott said.

“All of those things that Islam has never had – a reformation, an enlightenment, a well-developed concept of the separation of church and state – that needs to happen.”

Mr Abbott’s time as PM was marked by his strong stance against the actions of Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIL or ISIS) and other terrorist organisations like Boko Haram.

“Cultures are not all equal. We should be ready to proclaim the clear superiority of our culture to one that justifies killing people in the name of God,” Mr Abbott wrote in the column.

Islamic community: Tony Abbott’s comments ‘grossly disrespectful’

A number of Islamic community representatives within Australia have interpreted Mr Abbott’s comments as suggesting Islam is culturally inferior to Christianity.

Islamic Council of Victoria spokesman Kuranda Seyit said that position was “grossly disrespectful to the people of Islam”.

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The PM has also voiced opposition to Abbott’s comments. Photo: AAP 

Sydney-based Islamic scholar Ahmed Abdo also criticised Mr Abbott’s approach and questioned whether he was qualified to call for a “reformation”.

“Those comments are in fact in line with what radical groups such as ISIS are actually calling for,” Mr Abdo said.

“That is that the western world rejects Islam and Islam has no place in wider Western society.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said his predecessor was entitled to his own opinion, but he also warned against attributing the blame of terrorism to all people of Islamic faith.

“The vast, vast majority of Muslims are as appalled by extremism, and particularly violent extremism, as we are,” Mr Turnbull said.

“The extremism of ISIL or Daesh, these terrorists, is utterly rejected by the leaders of the great majority of Muslim nations.

“The one thing we need to be very careful not to do – and I’m sure Tony agrees with this by the way – what we must not do is play into the hands of our enemies and seek to tag all Muslims with responsibility for the crimes of a few.”

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten called on Mr Turnbull to “pull Tony Abbott into line” and said he was clearly seeking to divide the community.

Labor frontbencher Andrew Leigh said the comments framed Mr Abbott as an “Australian Donald Trump”.

-ABC

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