Asia-Pacific

Muslim immigration in Australia a 'success story', not something to fear, leaders say

File image of Keysar Trad Source: AAP

A recent poll on Muslim immigration only panders to Pauline Hanson's ideology of fear and paranoia, instead of uniting all Australians, Muslim and multicultural leaders say.

Australian Federation of Islamic Councils president Keysar Trad told SBS that a poll released on Tuesday revealing that nearly half of all Australians are in favour of a ban on Muslim immigration “proves our concerns that Pauline Hanson’s words are very dangerous".

"Pauline Hanson is inciting Australians against other Australians," he said.

Mr Trad called for her to unite people, not divide them.

“She should be an Australian leader, not a leader for fear and paranoia.”

He also reinforced that Muslim Australians contribute “very positively to Australian society”, citing those who are doctors, lawyers, engineers and entrepreneurs.

Peter Doukas, deputy chair of the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia, said that Australian Muslims' contribution to society harked back to the Afghan cameleers who arrived in 1860, helping to develop Central Australia, working on projects including the Overland Telegraph Line and the Trans-Australian Railway.

He said the council’s challenge was to ensure multiculturalism was posed as a “success story”.

“While we are disappointed in this [poll] result, we are more vigilant than ever to engage with people who have chosen in this way,” he told SBS.

“We must separate defence and national security and personal security, from integration and multiculturalism.”

The poll, conducted by Essential and published in The Guardian, found 49 per cent of 1,000 respondents believed Muslims should be banned from the country, while 40 per cent disagreed.

Sixty per cent of those supporting the ban were Liberal voters, 40 per cent Labor and 34 per cent Greens.

More than a third supporting the ban held the belief Muslims did not integrate into society, while others were concerned about terrorism.

In her maiden speech last week, Ms Hanson called for a ban on Muslims, saying the country was “in danger of being swamped” by them and arguing they had "a culture and ideology incompatible with our own".

"Islam does not believe in democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, or freedom of assembly," she had said.

 

'We all came from somewhere else'

Labor leader Bill Shorten said Australians should remember they lived in an immigrant country.

"Other than our first Australians we all came from somewhere else," he told reporters in Adelaide.

Only "crazies” wouldn't support western Liberal democracy, he said.

"We would be playing into the hands of the crazies, of the fundamentalists, of those who hate the Australian way of life by somehow saying that that religion, Islam, is incompatible with western democracy."

The call was rejected by senior government figures including Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. On Tuesday, he told the United Nations that Australia’s success stems from its multicultural values.  

“At a time when global concern around immigration and border control is rising, the need to build community support for migration has never been clearer," he said. 

On Wednesday he announced Australia would keep its refugee intake at nearly 19,000 a year as well as include Central Americans in a fresh intake program.

SBS contacted Essential for comment.

With AAP

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