Wednesday August 24 2005 11:10am WST
For Immediate Release
"The Prime Minister John Howard, the treasurer Mr Peter Costello and the Education Minister Brendan Nelson have started playing an extremely dangerous game with the intent to control 'suspected' and public Muslim 'extremists' amongst Islam adherents residents in Australia, and they may well be playing with a fire they're not familiar with," says Jack H Smit, spokesman for WA human rights lobby group Project SafeCom, this morning.
"As we have seen before with the Howard government, we see politicians trying to force public opinion where it is perceived to benefit their desire to control the debate, but Australia's anti-vilification laws are already the instruments which should do the work instead - and they should be strengthened so the courts can deal with these matters," Mr Smit said.
"If we go by the remarks of the Prime Minister, the Education Minister and Mr Peter Costello, we would have a parallel case for conservative Jews, who call non-jewish people "gentiles" just the same, we have the Church of the Latter-Day Saints and the Jehovah Witnesses, who think that anyone who's not in their group will go to Hell and is damned."
"These are also extremist views, and Australia up till this week was a tolerant nation, where these views are fine and accepted, because they are just that - views. With these new 'unwritten rules' put forward by politicians can we now also expect an under-cover agent to check up on the mobile phone calls of Mr Howard's favorite Israel lobbyist Mr Solomon Lew, or are people of his ilk, or with Zionist views, also being asked to leave Australia?"
"If Mr Howard wants to once again use unchecked ASIO powers to control who's in and who's out, we will develop the same debacles as those that have come to light in DIMIA's shocking dealings with innocent human beings. The politicians who are putting out these new 'opinion lines' may well be undoing Australia's great name as a tolerant nation under the guise of 'terrorists lurking under the beds'.
"The fact that the Muslim young people who were not invited to the prime minister's Summit this week, have named September 11 as a national day of action to highlight how mainstream Muslims have become victims of prejudice and bias shows that the priorities of the prime minister are wrong. Instead of trying to control, Mr Howard should declare Australia as a "Muslim-friendly nation" and strengthen the anti-vilification legislation - only then he will reduce the chances for growth of extremist views."
For more information:
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]