Aussie PM asks people not to foment distrust of Muslims

Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull speaks to media in Sydney on August 10, 2016. ©AFP

Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has warned the public against fomenting distrust of Muslims in the country amid parliamentary pressure to ban Muslim refugees and asylum seekers.

He also targeted the fact Muslims are very much part of the society as any other race or community is, speaking to lawmakers in the capital, Canberra, on Thursday, Turnbull warned about rising far-right extremism directed against Muslims.

Turnbull told parliament, “We cannot be effective if we are creating division, whether by fomenting distrust within the Muslim community or inciting fear of Muslims in broader society,”, adding, “Division begets division. It makes violence more likely, not less.”

The remarks come as Australian lawmakers are pressuring the premier to ban Muslim immigration and water down anti-discrimination laws.

The Australian government is set to introduce new legislation to parliament on tough anti-terrorism measures.

The bill will allow courts to keep prisoners beyond the completion of their term for fear that they may continue to pose threats. It will also introduce a new offense called “advocating genocide” that will enable the police to make an earlier arrest when someone is radicalizing others.

The Australian legal definition of combatants will be also expanded to include people supporting Daesh-oriented militants.

Australia has charged dozens of people with terrorism-related offences over the past two years, including some accused of planning mass attacks on the public.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the prime minister described the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group as the most pressing national security threat that Australians face.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop also told parliament on Thursday that 110 Australians had joined ranks of Daesh and other militant groups in the Middle East.

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