Outrage as Australian Leaders Tell Muslims to Fit In

Daily News Article   —   Posted on September 5, 2006

(by Patrick Goodenough, CNSNews.com) – Australian Muslim representatives are voicing outrage at comments by
the country’s two top politicians, who urged immigrants from Islamic
societies to fit in, learn English, treat women with respect, and shun

An Islamic leader
warned that the remarks could antagonize Muslims and lead to a repeat
of incidents such as the rioting in a Sydney beachside suburb last
December, when groups of youngsters — described as having a Middle
Eastern background — fought with whites.

Prime Minister
John Howard late last week said migrants should integrate into the way
of life in their new country but that a minority of Muslims was opposed
to accepting Australia’s values.

integrating means accepting Australian values — it means learning as
rapidly as you can the English language if you don’t already speak it,”
he said in a radio interview.

“People who come
from societies where women are treated in an inferior fashion have got
to learn very quickly that that is not the case in Australia.”

Howard’s remarks drew a swift and critical response from Muslim leaders.

Ameer Ali,
chairman of an advisory group set up by the government to combat
extremism in the 300,000-strong Muslim community, told a radio station
the remarks could stoke violence.

“We have already
witnessed one incident in Sydney recently in Cronulla,” he said in
reference to last December’s riots. “I don’t want these scenes to be
repeated because when you antagonize the younger generation … they
are bound to react.”

Other Muslim community representatives said the line adopted by Howard was encouraging racial tension.

But Howard stood by his position, denied he was singling out Muslims, and refused to apologize.

“No matter what
the culture of the country from which they came might have been,
Australia requires women to be treated fairly and decently and in the
same fashion as men,” he told reporters later.

“If any migrants coming to this country have a different view, they’d better get rid of that view pretty quickly.”

Howard said while
“99 percent” of Muslims in Australia had integrated, it was
“self-evident” that a small section was unwilling to do so. “It’s up to
all of us to try and overcome that resistance.”

He said the critical Muslim spokesmen were “missing the point.”

Howard also
addressed the issue in an op-ed piece published Saturday, in which he
said those who reject integration viewed calls to integrate “as some
kind of discrimination.”

“It is not. It is
commonsense and, importantly, it is also a powerful symbol of a new
migrant’s willingness and enthusiasm about becoming an Australian.”

Howard’s number
two and possible successor, federal Treasurer Peter Costello, endorsed
the prime minister’s comments, and added some of his own.

Costello said in
a television interview Sunday that Australia’s successful integration
of migrants was attributable to “the attitude that when you come to
Australia, whatever arguments you might have had in the old country, we
start again and we start again with a common set of values and a common

He also said
Islamic leaders should be more public and unequivocal in denouncing
terrorism being perpetrated “under the cover of religion.”

They should also
make it clear to prospective converts to Islam “that when you join this
religion you do not join a radical political ideology,” Costello added.

His comments
brought additional condemnation from Muslim representatives, who said
they would only further alientate the community.

Writing in
Sydney’s Sunday Telegraph, conservative columnist Piers Akerman
denounced what he called “shrill cries of outrage from self-described
leaders in Australia’s Islamic community.”

In Australia, he
wrote, as was the case in the U.S. and Britain, “Muslim organizations
have deliberately installed themselves as permanent aliens and adapted
a culture of constant carping about the majority, from whom they
maintain their isolation with such bitter determination.”

Reprinted here with permission from Cybercast News Service. Visit the website at CNSNews.com.