Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV) Press Release
PM’s meeting with community leaders
On Monday, the Prime Minister met with community leaders in Sydney and is due to conduct a similar meeting with the Melbourne community today. The Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV) notes that these meetings were called at extremely short notice with little or no information as to who the attendees would be or what the agenda was. Nevertheless the Islamic Council of Victoria put these issues aside, as well as the concerns raised previously regarding the proposed changes to the National Security Legislation, and agreed to meet with the Prime Minister in the interests of national harmony.
It is with extreme disappointment then that the ICV noted the comments made by the Prime Minister on Sydney radio station 2GB prior to his meeting with Sydney community leaders. The Prime Minister’s comments were ill informed and inflammatory. Once again the Muslim community, with no justification whatsoever, was challenged about its role in Australian society. The Secretary of the Islamic Council of Victoria, Mr Ghaith Krayem, stated “What we look for from our Prime Minister is true leadership in difficult times but what we find, for the second time in as many weeks, is a Prime Minister who wilfully places our community in the crosshairs of every bigot and racist in the country. When we are trying to build harmony and good will across the community we cannot understand the motives behind the Prime Minister’s inflammatory remarks today.”
We respectfully point out to the Prime Minister that ours is no longer a migrant community, nearly half of the Muslims in this country were born here and nearly 2/3rds are under the age of 35. Ours is a young and highly educated community. A community that demands more from its political leaders than we are currently receiving.
The Prime Minister once again rolled out the well worn cry for ‘moderate muslims’ to speak out more – despite numerous comments made by Muslim leaders in the last fortnight. Mr Krayem stated “We need to stop with these arbitrary meaningless labels. Muslims have spoken out often and loudly but are willingfully ignored by this Government. If Mr Abbott is genuine in his concern about tackling the disillusionment and disenfranchisement of Muslims in Australia then he needs to be prepared to engage with us about Australian foreign policy, about the growing islamopobia on the rise in this country, about the systematic and institutionalised discrimination young Muslims are subjected to amongst other factors.”
The Prime Minister’s public comments today are clearly at odds with his espoused desire to engage with the Muslim community. Clearly this is not genuine and is nothing more than a token gesture to tick the box marked ‘consultation’ before proceeding to do as he pleases. Accordingly the Islamic Council of Victoria has withdrawn its attendance from today’s meeting and urges all other community leaders to do likewise.
Mr Krayem stated ‘We are as committed to the security and prosperity of this country as much as any other Australians are. When the Government is genuine in its desire to understand the real issues that are in play and willing to enter into genuine dialogue we will make ourselves available but we will not participate in staged processes that have no purpose other than as public relations exercises.
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Media Enquiries: Bahriye Bol, ICV Communications Officer M|0432 572 163| firstname.lastname@example.org
The Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV) is the peak body for Muslim organisations in Victoria. The ICV represents more than 150,000 Victorian Muslims, through its 47 member organisations located throughout metropolitan Melbourne and rural Victoria. Visit: http://www.icv.org.au