Racist remarks condemned

The president of the Uniting Church in Australia, Stuart McMillan, has condemned racist comments made by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton about Lebanese Muslim Australians.

Peter Dutton has suggested that the arrival of Lebanese Muslims in the 1970s is partly to blame for a small number of Australians joining ISIS/Daesh as foreign fighters.

“Mr Dutton’s remarks unfairly stigmatise one migrant community and serve only to promote division and undermine our vibrant multicultural society,” said Stuart.

“We need to name that for what it is – racism.”

“Mr Dutton’s attacks also defy common sense. No single generation can be held to account for the actions of future generations.

“Political leaders need to uphold and promote what is good about our society. The Immigration Minister has a special responsibility in this regard but he has failed us all.

“The Uniting Church stands in total opposition to all forms of racism as incompatible with the Christian faith.  [Assembly resolution 85.162]

“Comments that provoke fear, misunderstanding and distrust only serve to divide and isolate Australians from each other,” said Stuart.

National director of UnitingJustice Australia, Rev Elenie Poulos, said, “I am bitterly disappointed by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s refusal to condemn Mr Dutton’s remarks.

“Does Mr Dutton personally believe that predisposition to terrorism is an inherent trait of a certain nationality or faith? Or is he saying these things for perceived political advantage?

“Whatever the case Mr Turnbull should pull Mr Dutton into line and make a clear statement of support for Australians of Muslim faith and Lebanese heritage.”

Rev Michael Barnes, the convenor of the Uniting Church’s National Committee on Interfaith Relations, pointed to the promise the church made at its formation in 1977 to “work for eradication of racism within our society and beyond”.

“We will always stand against racism in our society,” said Michael.

“We value our good relationships with the Australian Muslim community and the extraordinary contribution to this country made by successive generations of Australians of Lebanese heritage.”

“Already there are reports of death threats against prominent Muslims.

“I am extremely concerned by the permission being given by too many of our politicians for the expression of racism. What was once dog-whistling is becoming more overt and shameless.”

Michael said, “This is not the kind of future we want for our country. We seek a vibrant, diverse and inclusive society where all people feel valued. Now, maybe more than ever, we need leaders who will call us together to build this future in hope and love.”

One thought on “Racist remarks condemned

  1. Peter Dutton, at no stage, inferred that the Lebanese or Muslim community were, in general, anti Australian

    What he was clearly saying was that it was vital that immigrants be properly screened before acceptance as that particular intake of immigrants were not and the result was that a disproportionate number of them moved into criminality and have not fitted into our society.

    It is a pity that the Uniting Church President appears unable to have a reasonable unbiased discussion on the subject instead of using his position to blast off with dividing opinions.

    This country welcomes immigrants of all faiths, as our President is aware, and they require to be nurtured and not used to ‘stir the pot’.

    It happens too often that any attempt to analyse tensions is greeted with sanctimonious accusations of bigotry.

    The Uniting Church is, once again, missing an opportunity to enter into reasoned discussion. By putting one’s head under the pillow does not make a problem disappear

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