Anti-Aussie Muslims 'should go'
August 24, 2005
MUSLIMS in Australia who don't want to accept local values should leave the country, Federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson said today.
Muslim schools will have to denounce terrorism as part of an effort to stamp out home-grown extremism, under measures announced yesterday following a meeting between Muslim leaders and Prime Minister John Howard.
Dr Nelson said today he would meet with the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils to discuss programs that ensure students understand Australia's history, culture and values.
He said all Australian schools were required to teach the national values framework, including tolerance, responsibility and understanding, to students.
People who were not prepared to follow these Australian values should "clear off", he said.
"We believe in giving every person a fair go, we don't care where people come from, we don't mind what religion they've got," Dr Nelson said.
"But what we want them to do is commit to the Australian constitution, Australian rule of law and basically, people who don't want to be Australians, and they don't want to live by Australian values and understand them, well then they can basically clear off."
Treasurer Peter Costello has also raised the prospect of the government asking radical Muslims clerics who put Islamic law above Australian law to leave the country if they are dual citizens.
"There might be other countries where the system of law is more acceptable to them," he said.
"If you can't agree with parliamentary law, independent courts, democracy, and would prefer Sharia law and have the opportunity to go to another country which practices it, perhaps, then, that's a better option."
Meanwhile, Dr Nelson will meet with the University of Western Sydney (UWS) vice-chancellor to discuss a controversial address given on campus by former Guantanamo detainee Mamdouh Habib.
Mr Habib, who was released without charge in January this year after being held for more than three years at the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, condemned Australia's hardline approach to terrorist suspects.
He reportedly described the US as a "pack of terrorists" during the open-air forum at the university's Bankstown campus on Monday.
Dr Nelson today said that while the forum on war, terrorism and civil liberties had been organised by the UWS Students Association and not the university, he would still seek an explanation from vice-chancellor Janice Reid over Mr Habib's appearance.
"When I saw the report of that ... I immediately got on to the vice-chancellor's office out there at the University of Western Sydney," Dr Nelson said on Southern Cross radio.
"I'm seeing her shortly ... to find out what on earth is going on."
Dr Nelson said he had been informed that the student union had invited Mr Habib to give a lecture to about 100 students assembled at Bankstown, where he "peddled his anti-American view of the world".
"I was reassured that there was no expense involved as far as the taxpayer is concerned," Dr Nelson said.
Under laws introduced into Parliament in March by Dr Nelson, university students will no longer have to join student unions and pay compulsory union fees.
Dr Nelson said he was also concerned by a recent UWS student newspaper editorial which said former hostage in Iraq Douglas Wood was an example of someone living off the fat of dead Iraqis.
"Why should the average student who wants an education be funding all that sort of nonsense?" he said.
"That's where we're coming from."
Dr Nelson said if student services were up to scratch, there would be no problem convincing students to join the union.
"I encourage students to join all of these things – sporting, cultural, political – but under no circumstances should they be forced," he said.
Mr Habib was captured in Pakistan in late 2001 on suspicion of terrorist activities. He claims he was taken to Egypt and tortured between November 2001 and February 2002 before being moved to Guantanamo Bay.
Since his release, Mr Habib has become a regular on the speaking circuit, addressing University of Technology students last month and a rally in March to mark the International Day of Action.
Earlier today, Mr Habib said he was stabbed in an attack by three men near his Sydney home on Monday, but did not need hospital treatment.
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