Scott Morrison has lashed out at Muslim leaders, accusing them of continuing down the path of denial after some vowed to boycott his roundtable discussion on radicalisation.
The Prime Minister confirmed he will press ahead with the talks, despite a high-profile group announcing they will not attend the discussions on the grounds that Morrison government ministers had repeatedly insulted their community.
Earlier, Grand Mufti Ibrahim Abu Mohamed said he would boycott this week’s proposed government roundtable to discuss terrorism.
The Muslim leaders’ letter is also signed by Sheikh Shady Alsuleiman. The president of the Australian National Imams Council, he has previously condemned homosexuality for “spreading diseases” and attracting “evil outcomes to our society”.
“I expect all leaders in Australia, whatever religion they come from, or whatever community they represent, to do everything they can to keep Australians safe,’’ he said.
“Some have chosen to publicly boycott this meeting. Continuing down a path of denial only lets their communities down. It makes their communities less safe and more vulnerable.”
Mr Morrison said extremist radical Islam was a serious problem.
“We all have responsibilities to make Australia safe, and that means making sure Muslim communities do not become infiltrated with this dangerous ideology,’’ he said.
[1/6] Extremist radical Islam is a serious problem. We all have responsibilities to make Australia safe, and that means making sure Muslim communities do not become infiltrated with this dangerous ideology.
— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) November 21, 2018
The Muslim leaders’ refusal to attend the talks follows the arrest of three men in Melbourne on Tuesday amid allegations they were planning a mass casualty attack, including shooting families with semi automatic weapons.
“Many in the Muslim community, including the undersigned, are deeply concerned and disappointed with statements made by senior government ministers and the Prime Minister in the recent past, which infer that the community is collectively culpable for the criminal actions of individuals and should be doing more to prevent such acts of violence,’’ their letter to the Prime Minister states.
The leaders said Mr Morrison’s statements did nothing to address underlying issues. Rather, they had alienated large segments of the Muslim community.
“In order to have a meaningful meeting that will result in positive outcomes, attendees must be confident that their views and concerns will be genuinely respected and that such a forum will not be used to emphasise the very sentiments that the Muslim community consider to be invalid and divisive,” they wrote.
“The stated objective of the meeting does not provide any such confidence.”
The group has asked Mr Morrison to re-schedule the talks to “allow for a concrete agenda and mutually acceptable objectives to be agreed beforehand”.
The other signatories are Australian Federation of Islamic Councils president Rateb Jneid, Professor Mohamad Abdalla (director of the Centre for Islamic Thought and Education at the University of South Australia), Victorian academic Mohamed Mohideen, Ghaith Krayem (chief executive of AFIC’s Halal Authority), Islamic Council of Queensland vice-president Ali Kadri, Victorian Board of Imams president Isse Musse and board member Moustapha Sarakibi.