Australian Imams and Muslim groups say Scott Morrison’s speech following Friday’s Bourke St mall knife attack went too far.
“It’s extremely disappointing in such difficult times and during a national tragedy, when all Australians of all faiths and backgrounds should be called upon to unite and stand together against any form of extremism and violence, to see our nation’s leader politicizing this incident and using it for political gain,” ANIC stated in response to the PM’s Saturday comments.
Friday’s attack was carried out by Somalian-born Hassan Khalif Shire Ali who attacked bystanders with a knife along the busy Melbourne street claimed the life of one person.
Commenting on the attack, Morrison was quoted as saying: “We support religious freedom, but religious extremism must be called out. We must call out Radical, violent, extremist Islam that opposes our very way of life.”
“Religious extremism takes many forms around the world and no religion is immune from it. But here in Australia, we’d be kidding ourselves if we didn’t call out the fact that the greatest threat of religious extremism in this country is the radical and dangerous ideology of extremists,” he said.
While agreeing that Morrison was “rightly upset by this terrible attack,” the Forum On Australia’s Islamic Relations (FAIR) joined ANIC in saying that “the Muslim community won’t be scapegoated and we’ll endeavor to keep Australia safe where we can, but the actions of a mentally ill person suffering from a psychotic episode, isn’t the fault of a whole religious community.”
FAIR spokesperson said: “We demand the withdrawal of Mr. Morrison’s comments and an apology to the Muslim community.”
The Muslim Friendship Association spokesperson, Keysar Trad, replied to Morrison’s call for the Muslim community leaders to do more to stop the radicalization of youth.
“The message that doesn’t seem to sink in that many of those people drawn to extremism are former criminals, people who are outliers of society,” he said.
According to the 2016 Australian Census, Muslims constituted 604,200 people or 2.6% of the total Australian population.