Almost 10 top leaders of the Muslim Community boycotted a meeting convened by the Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday 22 November.
The meeting still went ahead attended by a number of others claiming to represent the Muslim community.
In a joint statement yesterday, community leaders from Victoria, NSW, South Australia and Queensland and Grand Mufti Ibrahim Abu Mohamed condemned what they described as the Prime Minister’s “divisive’’ rhetoric on Islam and violence.
In their stament issued a few days before the meeting it read:
“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,” the joint statement reads. “These statements have achieved nothing to address underlying issues, but rather, have alienated large segments of the Muslim community.”
The PM was due to meet with Muslim leaders this week for a round-table discussion in light of the Melbourne incident on 9 November, in which two people died.
In the days after that incident, Mr Morrison described “radical, violent, extremist Islam” as the greatest threat to Australia’s national security.
Meanwhile in a joint media release on the same day of the meeting, the PM Scott Morrison and Mr Peter Dutton, Minister for Home Affairs said that the Government was taking strong action to keep Australians safe by seeking to change the Australian Citizenship Act so dual citizens convicted of a terrorism offence in Australia could lose Australian citizenship irrespective of the sentence they receive.
Similar to the United Kingdom, the Government will develop a new Temporary Exclusion Orders scheme so Australians involved in terrorism overseas would be legally unable to return to Australia for up to two years.
“We’ll do everything we can to stay ahead of the evolving threat of terrorism to keep Australians safe,” the Prime Minister said.
“The terrorist attack on Bourke Street in Melbourne on 9 November, and the recent arrests which thwarted an alleged terrorist attack, highlight once again the importance of robust measures to protect our community.
“Our changes will make it easier to strip terrorists of their Australian citizenship. Terrorists forfeit their rights to be Australians when they carry out their evil acts.”
Mr Dutton said while three more dual citizens had lost Australian citizenship under the existing legislation because of their involvement with terrorist organisations offshore, taking the total to nine, more needed to be done.
“We now need to focus attention on strengthening the citizenship loss provisions which commenced in 2015 as they relate to terrorists within Australia, in order to protect our community.”
The proposed changes would enable the Minister to cease the citizenship of anyone who is convicted of a terrorism offence in Australia, irrespective of the sentence they receive. This removes the current requirement that a terrorist offender must be sentenced to at least six years’ imprisonment.
The Government will also change the threshold for determining dual citizenship. This change aims to improve the Minister’s scope to determine a person’s foreign citizenship status.
“We assess there are around 50 Australian dual citizens who may be eligible to lose citizenship under the current provisions, and even more with the changes we are announcing today,” Mr Dutton said.
The new Temporary Exclusion Orders scheme would enable authorities to delay, and then monitor and control, the return and re-entry to our community of Australian foreign fighters.