House debates

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Statements by Members


1:57 pm

Photo of Laurie FergusonLaurie Ferguson (Werriwa, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

My residence dictates that I have known in my life a fairly religious Muslim whose grandson was affected by extremism and was killed in Syria. I also live in very close proximity in my suburb to a woman who has decided to be fully covered despite the fact that her mother and sister are not. Issues of harmony are very crucial not only to this country but to me personally. I have seen the way in which fervency grew in the community after September 11—people who previously were very loose in religion becoming more focused on that.

The current debate has two temptations: on the one hand to accept those people who through opportunism and being ill informed push for discrimination against others. On the other side of the debate I urge people: while we must stand for people's religious and human rights, do not drive into the Islamic community a view that this country is affected by Islamophobia. At the same time that we defend people's rights we should be very careful not to overstate the degree to which this country does suffer from discrimination and segregation. If we fully drive home so strongly this motivation, people will feel that they are discriminated against and marginalised, and they will drift into extremism.

We have to find a fine line between rejecting discriminatory measures and at the same time not reinforcing in the Islamic community a view that they are separate, different and isolated.


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