Aussie PM &Treasurer to Muslims 'If you object to Australian values don't come here'- describes niqab and burqa as "confronting"
February 26, 2006
Share our values or go home
PETER Costello has lashed out at "mushy misguided multiculturalism," warning that Australian values are "not optional" - and that migrants who do not share them should be stripped of their citizenship.
In a hard-hitting speech to the Sydney Institute that immediately sparked anger from Muslims, the Treasurer said migrants should be forced to honour their pledge of allegiance to Australia or face the prospect of being kicked out.
In his strongest comments on the issue yet, he said anyone refusing to acknowledge the rule of law "stabs at the heart of the Australian compact".
"Those who are outside this compact threaten the rights and liberties of others," Mr Costello said. "They should be refused citizenship if they apply for it. Where they have it they should be stripped of it if they are dual citizens and have some other country that recognises them as citizens."
Mr Costello said the citizenship pledge should be "a big flashing warning sign" to Muslims wanting to live under sharia law.
"Before entering a mosque visitors are asked to take off their shoes," Mr Costello said. "This is a sign of respect. If you have a strong objection to walking in your socks don't enter the mosque. Before becoming an Australian you will be asked to subscribe to certain values. If you have strong objection to those values don't come to Australia."
His comments follow Prime Minister John Howard's claims this week that a fragment of the Islamic community is "utterly antagonistic to our kind of society". Last week Liberal backbencher Danna Vale said that Australia could become a Muslim nation within 50 years because "we are aborting ourselves almost out of existence".
People will not respect citizenship that explains itself on the basis of "mushy multiculturalism," Mr Costello said.
Islamic Council of Victoria president Malcolm Thomas said he was disappointed at Mr Costello's speech. "We have had the uninformed comments of Danna Vale, we have had the comments made by the Prime Minister and now we have these comments - all they do is reinforce a stereotype which doesn't exist."
Mr Thomas said that singling out Muslims was pandering to a conspiracy that Muslims wanted to overtake Australia.
"Australian Muslims are Australians first," he said. "They abide by the law and they want to live here in peace and harmony. They are not interested in taking over the country. They are not interested in creating a theocracy".
Ikebal Patel, an executive member of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, said the comments were "inflammatory".
"Islam law teaches that when you go into a country you embrace the laws of that country," Mr Patel said.
"I hope we are not going away from multiculturalism as the founding stone of our immigration policy."
Mr Patel said the timing of the comments smacked of an attempt by the Government to deflect attention from the AWB scandal.
Islamic Friendship Association of Australia chairman Keysar Trad accused Mr Costello of making "divisive, politically opportunistic comments that do nothing but play on people's fears"."This is very poor form from the Treasurer," Mr Trad said. "It seems to be (something) we are increasingly hearing from members of the federal Liberal Government. It's most disconcerting that instead of giving a logical argument they would resort to fear-mongering."
Mr Trad said the overwhelming feeling at a national symposium at Griffith University last week was that multiculturalism was the best thing for Australia and any country.
Mr Costello said Muslims who did not like the depiction of the Prophet Muhammad in newspapers should recognise this does not justify violence.
He said he did not like "putrid representations" such as Andres Serrano's controversial work, Piss Christ (showing an image of Christ immersed in urine), but recognised that art galleries should be able to practise their "offensive taste" without fear of violence or a riot.
World Vision chief executive Tim Costello praised his brother for raising the debate about multiculturalism. "I think there should be a debate because it's complex," he said. "Should people from countries who practise female genital mutilation or bigamy and say it's part of their cultural or religious beliefs be allowed to do so here? I would say no, they have consented to our laws by coming here. I think Peter is right in that fact."
CANBERRA, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Australian Treasurer Peter Costello said that Muslims who want to live by Islamic sharia law were not welcome in the country, fuelling more anger after Prime Minister John Howard's comments on "extremist" Muslim immigrants.
Two key Muslim leaders on Friday condemned Costello's beliefs as divisive, but Howard stood by his heir apparent, defending the treasurer's comments as fundamentally accurate and calling for people to "take a deep breath" and calm down.
Howard said on Monday that he was concerned about "extremist" Muslim immigrants bent on jihad because they were antagonistic towards Australian society.
Similarly, Mr Costello had said: "Before becoming an Australian, you will be asked to subscribe to certain values. If you have strong objections to those values, don't come to Australia." In the interview, Mr Howard said multiculturalism had become distorted and too often stupidly meant "a federation of cultures". And he said Muslims must work at avoiding their alienation. Mr Costello condemned "confused, mushy, misguided multiculturalism". Initially, the Costello comments - including stripping citizenship from people who advocate Islamic law over Australian law - were judged to be at odds with Mr Howard. On the same day, Mr Howard had spoken of the contribution of "all of those who weren't born in this country" and extolled Australia as the least discriminatory country. In the interview, however, Mr Howard said integration was underdone, even though Australia was "very socially cohesive".
Yesterday Mr Howard said Australia's core set of values flowed from its Anglo-Saxon identity and the Treasurer's essential point - that people should not migrate to countries they do not appreciate - was unexceptional. Mr Howard said Australian Muslims overhwelmingly were committed to Australia, and terrorism was based "upon an evil, distorted interpretation of Islam ? But that doesn't mean you can't identify areas of concern, and I think the reaction of some in the Islamic community ? is quite unreasonable."
Costello backers said his remarks were intended to brand him as conservative enough for a legitimate shot at the Liberal leadership. Yesterday Mr Costello continued to promote the cause for a more demanding citizenship test. On Sydney radio he brushed aside the leadership question when asked if he was positioning himself by making remarks that some would consider to be racist. Despite a chorus of protest at the Costello speech, NSW's Labor Premier, Morris Iemma, called it reasonable and practical and said immigrants should "leave the disputes, leave the extremism and leave the fights behind". This endorsement is a sure sign that Labor polling identifies the Muslim divide as a potent electoral issue. Pauline Hanson, the former One Nation leader, said she was vindicated by Mr Costello. She added that "he needs to throw these people out of this country who do not embrace Australia".