Dutton slammed for singling out Lebanese Australians over terrorism

Dutton slammed for singling out Lebanese Australians over terrorism

SBS World News Radio: Immigration Minister Peter Dutton is facing criticism for singling out the Lebanese Muslim community in parliament in relation to terror offences.

The Australian Lebanese community has expressed outrage over inflammatory remarks made by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton.

Many members of the community are calling for his position as minister to be revoked, including Ezzat El Halabi.

"I think that Malcolm Turnbull should give this department to someone else, someone who's a bit more welcoming. It's called the Department of Immigration, not the department of targeting migrant communities."

Speaking during Question Time on Monday, Mr Dutton suggested Malcolm Fraser's government made a mistake bringing some Lebanese refugees to Australia in the 1970s.

The immigration minister sparked outrage by linking Lebanese migration to Australia's current struggle with terrorist-related offences.

"The advice I have is that out of the last 33 people who have been charged with terrorist-related offences in this country, 22 of those people are from second and third generation Lebanese-Muslim background."

Labanese Muslim Association President Samir Dandan says the remarks are nothing short of racist.

"This is a shocking and twisted way to paint an entire community. Minister Dutton has taken a broad brush and downgraded them and their contributions, their very value as humans, to the violence associated with foreign fighters."

The Immigration minister now faces furious backlash from his parliamentary colleagues.

Opposition spokesman Chris Bowen is accusing Mr Dutton of further lowering the level of debate surrounding immigration.

"Peter Dutton did what I thought was probably impossible: he brought the immigration debate in Australia to a new low. To suggest that somehow second and third generation migrants to Australia from one particular group, because some of them have engaged in criminal or terrorist activity, that their parents or grandparents should not have been brought to Australia - I thought was just extraordinary."

Greens Senator Nick McKim has joined the Lebanese community in calling for Mr Dutton to be removed from the Immigration portfolio following the remarks.

"This is a pattern of behaviour from Mr Dutton that basically exposes him as a racist. He's gone too far and the Prime Minister now has no choice but to sack Mr Dutton out of the cabinet and out of the front bench position."

But Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has defended his Immigration Minister, instead insisting it's important to reflect on and learn from past policies.

"There is no question that there are lessons to be learned from previous immigration policies and the minister was reflecting on, you know, on policies many years ago. He's entitled to do that. But the critical thing is - I'm not making any comment on his remarks other than to say that it's fairly fair for all of us to reflect on past policies and how effective they were or not and seek to improve, in the light of that, to improve what we're doing now."


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