Should politicians discuss Islam?

It comes as no surprise that Malcolm Fraser is again criticising the Howard government. He wrote in The Age yesterday:

Today, for a variety of reasons, but not least because the Government has sought to set Muslims aside, discrimination and defamation against Muslims has been rising dramatically. Too many have taken the easy path and accepted the Government’s contentions that Muslims aren’t like us and therefore it doesn’t matter if discrimination occurs and if access to the law does not apply. We have forgotten that discrimination once it starts, spreads.

Fraser is so busy reading between the lines of what the PM says that he has forgotten to read what is actually on them. If you go to Howard’s website and do a search you can find his statements on the Sheik Hilali affair (and indeed on previous Sheik Hilali affairs), along with his statements on Islam in Australia. Howard’s views can be summarised as follows:

* it is important for Islamic Australians to be integrated into Australian society
* that integration is threatened by a minority of members of the Islamic community with repugnant beliefs and unacceptable behaviour (on the treatment of women, on terrorism)
* he stresses that these are minority views, but they colour general perceptions
* Australians should be tolerant of other religions (eg on women’s head covering, opposing violence, not the government’s job to decide who should head religious groups)
Continue reading “Should politicians discuss Islam?”