Tony Abbott has defended his contentious comments on Islam, arguing he has a responsibility to speak out on important issues in his capacity as a former Prime Minister.
Mr Abbott has drawn criticism from a number of high profile Muslim representatives after he called for Christian-style “reformation” of Islam because terrorist groups are killing in the name of the religion.
Australia’s Grand Mufti, Ibrahim Abu Mohammad, said the position would play into the hands of extremists, and Mr Abbott was also accused of using language “tantamount to hate speech”.
Mr Abbott has defended his comments, saying terrorists “plainly” think they are doing the work of God.
“I think one of the responsibilities of being an ex-Prime Minister is from time to time to speak out sensibly on important subjects,” Mr Abbott told Macquarie Radio today.
“We do have a real problem, not just in our country but in many parts of the world, where you’ve got these people killing in the name of God.”
Mr Abbott also defended his outspoken views on increasing Australia’s involvement in the Syrian conflict.
“Just because Islamic State, the death cult as I call it, is spoiling for a fight is no reason not to give it to them,” he said.
“If they are unfought, they continue to flourish.”
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Mr Abbott was entitled to provide his opinion.
“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,” he said.
While some members of the Opposition frontbench have likened Mr Abbott to contentious US presidential candidate Donald Trump, Labor leader Bill Shorten has stopped short of making the association himself.
“I don’t know if he’s Australia’s version of Donald Trump, but he’s a very unusual man,” Mr Shorten said yesterday.
Abbott plans to stay at least until the next election
Mr Abbott also said he wanted to remain in Parliament until at least the next Federal Election.
He said he would talk about his political future with friends and family over Christmas about whether to recontest his seat.
“There’d be nothing wrong I’d think with continuing to do that in Parliament. Now, whether that’s the ultimate decision, time will tell,” he said.
“I am determined to do what I can to serve the people of Warringah and Australia for the rest of this Parliament.”