Jun 18, 2015

Afghan Community Meeting Speech – 18 June 2015

Last Friday night I was honoured to attend a local Afghan community meeting at the John Pandazopoulos Hall in Doveton, which was organised by the Afghan Islamic Centre and Omar Farooq Mosque. I thank and commend the mosque committee, as the principal organiser of this. I thank Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius and Superintendent Russell Barrett of Victoria Police and Mr Wayne Miller from the Community Resilience Unit of the Department of Premier and Cabinet for taking their time to attend this important meeting. This meeting followed on from two other meetings that have been quite pivotal in our efforts to counter radical extremism in our area. One was a luncheon that I hosted with the American ambassador, Ambassador Berry, on 3 February 2015. The other was a meeting held at the Casey city council on 30 April that was attended by our Muslim community leaders, representatives from the Attorney-General’s office, representatives from the Australian Federal Police and representatives from Victoria Police. In these two gatherings leading to this third gathering, we came together to talk about how we can deal with the threat of Islamic State propaganda and Islamic State radicalisation of young people at risk in our community.

That ties into the meeting on Friday night, which was attended by over 200 people, many of them community members, some of whom had been affected by the recent police raids in my area. I am very heartened by the attitude of the Afghan community, who have been wonderful contributors to our community for some period of time, in their resilience and their resolve to deal with this menace. They wish to work with the government, with security agencies, with us and with me as a partner to ensure that we can deal with this menace—because this menace, particularly in the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne, is a massive challenge to us. We have seen the incident on 23 September last year and the recent Anzac Day arrests. We have a community that has been profoundly affected by this radicalisation. I want to emphasise to this chamber and to any media listening that the community wants to be part of the solution; it is not the problem. So we are working collaboratively with the federal government, with the Countering Violent Extremism section of the Attorney-General’s Department, to try to find and fund programs that will work to stop the pipeline of radicalisation. In particular I also want to put on the record my resolve to remove, by legislation or otherwise, radical imams who preach a message of hate in our country. They have no place in this country. They are not supported by their community. We must deal with them and we must remove them from our shores.

 

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