Malcolm Turnbull uses Iftar dinner to warn against division after Orlando massacre


Source: The Guardian

Malcolm Turnbull has warned against the community being divided by acts of terrorism such as the Orlando massacre and “extremist, nihilistic interpretations of religion”.

Speaking at an Iftar dinner to break the Ramadan fast at Kirribilli House inSydney, Turnbull praised the contribution of the Muslim community to Australia.

The dinner, the first such occasion hosted by a prime minister, was attended by the Gold Logie winner Waleed Aly, his wife, the sociologist Susan Carland, the AFL player Bachar Houli, the executive director of the Australian Multicultural Foundation, Hass Dellal, and youth advocate Yassmin Abdel-Magied – as well as Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists.

Turnbull said the young Muslim leaders present at the dinner “come from all walks of life and are breaking down barriers and making a significant contribution to enriching our society”.

“They represent a new and dynamic generation of Muslim leadership in Australia who are shaping a more prosperous and harmonious future for all Australians,” he said.

Turnbull said the aim of extremists “including those committing violence through a warped and nihilist interpretation of religion is to divide us and to turn our citizens against each other”.

“Acts of terror like Sunday’s massacre in Orlando are perpetrated to divide us along lines of race, religion, sect and sexuality – but that kind of hatred and division must not prevail,” he said. “We must stand together like we do tonight as one Australian family united against terrorism, racism, discrimination and violence.”

Turnbull recounted a visit to the Islamic Museum of Australia in March and his participation in a round-table meeting at the Islamic Council of Victoria.

He said it had shown him the extent to which young Muslim Australians faced a “backlash caused by the violent acts of a small minority of extremists who defame and blaspheme against their faith, and for which their entire community is often blamed”.

“And at the ICV we committed to work together, in partnership, to ensure we are a stronger and more united Australian family,” he said.

Turnbull repeated his comments from his ICV visit that the Australian Muslim community was valued and respected and was not viewed through “a narrow security prism”.

The comments were welcomed by Muslim Australians including the ICV policy adviser Junaid Cheema.

“You are an integral part of an Australian family that rests on the essential foundation of mutual respect and understanding,” Turnbull said. “Every one of us is enriched by the cultures and faiths of our friends and neighbours.

“Australians are not defined by religion or race; we are defined by a commitment to common political values, democracy, freedom, the rule of law, all underpinned of course by mutual respect.”

Turnbull emphasised the values of diversity and compassion in Islam.

“By breaking bread across religions and by bringing diverse people together, we are embodying Islam’s emphasis on human diversity,” he said. “I sincerely believe that Australia is the most successful and harmonious multicultural society in the world. Australia’s multicultural composition is at the heart of our national identity and is intrinsic to our history and our character.”

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