Malcolm Turnbull

Turnbull advised to mend relationship with Muslim Australians

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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has been urged to mend the government's relationship with Muslim Australians. Security agencies say the relationship is at an all-time low.

Malcolm Turnbull’s front bench colleagues have urged the Prime Minister to mend the relationship between the Government and Muslim Australians after warnings from security agencies that the relationship is at an all-time low.

The move comes one year on from comments made by the former Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, that he found burqas and other face coverings to be confronting attire and anyone wanting to come to the country should join “team Australia.”

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Justice Minister Michael Keenan advised the Prime Minister a different approach was necessary to combat extremism in Islamic communities.

Liberal Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells has consulted with more than 160 Muslim community groups and says the divisive language used by the previous Prime Minister has come up in consultations.

“Well there are certainly concerns," Senator Fierravanti-Wells said.

"There are concerns about language, there are concerns about working directly with those communities. I think it's important that we engage directly with them.”

The senator started the consultations after a request from the former Prime Minister to undertake "extensive community engagement", Senator Fierravanti-Wells said.

She also said it was important to view the issue of young Australians becoming radicalised as a social issue, with a national security angle, not a national security issue with a social component.

Western Sydney doctor and Muslim community figure Jamaal Rifi told SBS the relationship between the federal government and Australia's Muslim community had been strained during the Abbott years.

"The change of prime ministership, hopefully will improve that relationship," Dr Rifi said. 

He said addressing the radicalisation of some young Australians would be something Australia's Muslim community must do in cooperation with the government.

"The government and security agencies can't solve this problem of radicalisation on their own, and the community can't do it on their own," Dr Rifi said.

He said strengthening social cohesion in Australia would be the best way to help disenfranchised youths.

"We can't solve our Australian problem by bombing ... in Syria," he said.

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