Australia's Howard Says Govt May Infiltrate Mosques, Schools
Aug. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Australian Prime Minister John Howard said the government may infiltrate mosques, prayer halls and schools to detect any teaching of the ``virtues of terrorism.''
``We have a right to know whether there is, within any section of the Islamic community, a preaching of the virtues of terrorism,'' Howard told Radio 6PR in Perth when asked if the government was prepared to ``get inside'' mosques, prayer halls and schools. Or, ``whether any comfort or harbor is given to terrorism within that community.''
Howard yesterday met 14 Islamic leaders for the first time and agreed on a framework for further talks. He has said last month's bombings in London that killed 56 people, including an Australian, highlight the need to ``remain vigilant.''
``There's a concern that a small section of the Islamic community could be the source of terrorism,'' Howard, 66, told reporters in Canberra yesterday. ``We need the assistance of the Islamic leadership and the Islamic leadership needs our assistance.''
Fifty-one Australian Muslim groups yesterday released a 12- point statement denouncing violence. The groups said they weren't accountable for individuals who commit ``heinous'' crimes in the name of Islam and expressed concern about ``increased hostility'' toward Muslim communities.
Australia, which has troops stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq, has been on a medium terror alert since 2001. Howard has said a terror attack in Australia is a possibility.
Australians have been targeted in terrorist attacks abroad. Nine people were killed in a bomb attack outside Australia's embassy in Jakarta on Sept. 9, 2004. At least 202 people, 88 of them Australians, were killed in bombings on the Indonesian island of Bali in 2002.
Australia has tightened security on passports, increased jail terms and fines for identity fraud and put marshals on domestic and some international flights since the U.S. terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
Since the London bombings, Howard has said the government will consider introducing a national identity card to be carried by all citizens.
Treasurer Peter Costello has urged radical Muslim clerics to leave Australia if they didn't share its values as a democracy, a secular society and equality for women.
``This is a country, which is founded on a democracy and according to our Constitution, we have a secular state,'' Costello told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. yesterday. ``If those are not your values, if you want a country which has Sharia law or a theocratic state, then Australia is not for you.''
Thats a dupe, but I like reading it again. Now when do we get to do that?