Immigration Minister Scott Morrison. Photo: Wolter Peeters
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has rejected comments from Australia’s Grand Mufti that the Abbott government will be to blame for creating more Muslim radicals at home if it sends troops to the Middle East.
And he says the young men who verbally attacked a uniformed Australian Defence Force officer in Sydney’s CBD are “idiots” who need to be “dealt with” by authorities.
Speaking on The Bolt Report on Sunday, Mr Morrison said claims by Ibrahim Abu Mohammed, the Grand Mufti of Australia, that the Abbott government would be “imputed” for further radicalisation of Australian Muslims if it continued military intervention in the Middle East were untrue.
Grand Mufti Ibrahim Abu Mohammed. Photo: Steven Siewert
“I don’t accept those comments and Australia will always act in our national interest,” Mr Morrison said.
“I think it’s positive that there are more positive voices … out there such as Jamal Rifi and others who I think understand the very real risk to all Australians here and [who] are working productively and positively with the government and other agencies to ensure that we can keep Australia safe.”
The Australian National Imams Council and Professor Mohammed issued a statement on September 3 saying “one of the main causative factor [sic] for local radicalisation in the West has been the Western governments’ military involvement in the Middle East”.
They called on the Abbott government to “re-examine its decision” to provide weapons to Kurdish forces in Iraq to help in the fight against the Islamic State.
Mr Morrison said the Abbott government’s decision to join the US in Iraq was not the reason why the country’s terrorist threat level was suddenly raised last week.
“I think that view fundamentally misunderstands Australia’s situation,” Mr Morrison said. “Australia has always been seen as a legitimate target by terrorists and extremists because of who we are and what we’re about and what we represent.
“We need to act in our interests, we can never be intimidated by terrorists and extremists, and I know that the Australian community strongly supports a very strong stand on this in standing up for our values and our way of life.”
Mr Morrison justified measures allowing him to take away the passports of dozens of Australians, saying they shouldn’t be allowed to travel to the Middle East to fight with IS because once there they would join a “death cult” and become “well-trained assassins”.
He said the young men who reportedly verbally attacked a uniformed ADF officer in Sydney’s CBD were “idiots” who needed to be “dealt with” by authorities.
An internal ADF memo, circulated just 48 hours before Australia’s terrorist threat level was raised to high last week, had apparently detailed an incident in which a group of men threatened to blow the “head off” an ADF member in Sydney if he went to Iraq to fight the Islamic State.
According to The Sunday Telegraph, the officer was approached by the group of men and told to “go to the Middle East so we can blow your f—-ing head off you c–t.”
The memo detailing the incident was sent to army officers to warn them of an increase in anti-Defence sentiment in Australia as a consequence of defence’s operations in the Middle East.
But a spokesman for the department declined to comment on Sunday.
“The [memo] sent to defence personnel was created for official use only,” the spokesman said.
“As a matter of longstanding principle, it would be inappropriate to provide comment or detail on security-related matters. Defence takes the security of its personnel very seriously and has a range of measures in place to safeguard them.”
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