Australia

Scott Morrison accuses Muslim leaders of failing community by boycotting meeting

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Scott Morrison has accused Muslim leaders of making their communities "less safe and more vulnerable" by boycotting a meeting.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has launched a blistering attack on Muslim leaders planning to boycott a meeting with him. 

Some Muslim leaders decided not to attend a planned meeting with Mr Morrison this week because his comments after the Bourke Street terrorist attack "alienated" segments of their community.

In a statement posted on social media, Mr Morrison declared the meeting would go ahead regardless of the boycott.

"The meeting is going ahead with those who want to deal with this issue seriously rather than look the other way," he said. 

Mr Morrison said those that had boycotted the meeting were in denial. 

"Continuing down a path of denial only lets their communities down. It makes their communities less safe and more vulnerable." 

A letter signed by nine Muslim leaders including Grand Mufti Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohamed and Australian Federation of Islamic Councils President Dr Rateb Jneid, said the meeting would not go ahead until attendees were confident their "views and concerns" would be respected.

"Many in the Muslim community including the undersigned are deeply concerned and disappointed with statements made by senior Government ministers and the prime minister in the recent past which infer that the community is collectively culpable for the criminal actions of individuals and should be doing more to prevent such acts of violence," the letter read.

In the days following the November 9 attack, Mr Morrison said he supported religious freedom, but not "radical, violent, extremist Islam".

"Here in Australia, we would be kidding ourselves if we did not call out the fact that the greatest threat of religious extremism in this country is the radical and dangerous ideology of extremists," Mr Morrison said.

The Muslim leaders letter released today said those statements "have achieved nothing to address underlying issues, but rather, have alienated large segments of the Muslim community."

The letter called for the proposed roundtable to be rescheduled after a "concrete agenda" is agreed upon beforehand.

The move comes after the Australian National Imams Council accused the prime minister of politicising the Bourke Street attack that left one man dead and two others injured earlier this month. 

The Council called the attack a national tragedy but said it was "outraged" by Mr Morrison's recent comments linking Islam to a radical and dangerous ideology.

"It is 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 politicising this incident and using it for political gain," the council statement said last week.

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