Mon, Aug 08, 2005 - Page 4 News List

Australian PM asks Muslims to help find extremist cells

AFP , SYDNEY

Prime Minister John Howard called yesterday for the help of Muslim leaders in uncovering extremists cells promoting hatred in Australia while assuring the Islamic community they were not under attack. Howard said that he would be asking Muslim leaders to help "bust open" radical cells as part of their assistance in the fight against terror at a summit to be held in the next few weeks.

But the conservative Australian leader said that making Muslims feel like they were under attack would not only be counterproductive, "it would be quite unjust because the overwhelming majority of them share the abhorrence that we do about violence and terrorism."

"[But] they do have responsibilities and we have to guard against this country going down the path of other societies where you have closed cells, where you have people who are the product of being able to operate with a degree of immunity within their own communities, and that really is something that we have to bust open," he said.

Howard said that he felt some members of Britain's Muslim community were aware of the planning of the terror attacks which took place in London's transport system on July 7 and killed more than 50 people.

"What happened in Britain was that you had British-born people [involved in the attacks]," he said.

"Their communities must have known something of it. I find it hard to accept that they didn't, and the reality is that there was no human intelligence suggesting otherwise."

The meeting with Muslim leaders will take place ahead of next month's emergency anti-terror summit between state and federal leaders which will discuss tightening Australia's laws on inciting terrorism and deporting extremists. Howard, who has said he will consider the tougher laws introduced in Britain following the July 7 attacks, said he would not "make up a new criminal code on the run."

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said that it was very difficult to deport Australian passport-holders unless they had lied on their citizenship applications. But Howard said there was a mutual obligation on people once they became Australian residents to accept the country's values.

"You receive the benefits of living in Australia and in return you have an obligation to embrace and imbibe the values and attitudes unconditionally... of this society," Howard said."I think that's a fair balance and most Australians would see it in those terms."

Howard, who was meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair in London when the July 7 attacks occurred, is reportedly not committed to imitating Britain's new anti-terror laws.

But Australia's security agencies are working with the British officials to produce a list of suspected extremists who would face deportation, the Sunday Telegraph said.

"The list would include overseas-born extremist Islamic clerics, people inciting terrorism on websites, and those known to have trained in Pakistan or Iraq," the paper said without naming sources.

This story has been viewed 1913 times.

Comments will be moderated. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned.

TOP top