Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Muslims who settle in Australia must denounce terrorism, learn English and forget the ancient hatreds and prejudices of their homelands

Nick Squires:

Muslims who settle in Australia must denounce terrorism, learn English as quickly as possible and forget the ancient hatreds and prejudices of their homelands, the government has warned.

Islamic leaders should condemn terrorism unequivocally and embrace tolerance and freedom of speech, ministers said, amid fears that Australia could be subject to an attack similar to the London bombings last year.

"Migrants who come to Australia are expected to speak English and endorse basic Australian values, and it's going to be a problem for future generations if they don't," said Peter Costello, the treasury minister.

"We have had the attitude that when you come to Australia, whatever arguments you might have had in the old country, we start again with a common set of values and a common language."

Muslim leaders in Australia warned of increasing radicalisation and the danger of race riots last week after the prime minister, John Howard, criticised Muslims for failing to integrate. Mr Howard infuriated many Muslims by calling for them to make more effort to learn English, accept Western values and treat women with greater respect.

Eleven Muslims accused of being members of a terrorist cell plotting an attack in Australia were ordered to stand trial on Friday.

The men, said to have been inspired by Osama bin Laden and arrested last year in Australia's biggest-ever counter-terrorism operation, are accused of planning to carry out a catastrophic attack, possibly against the country's only nuclear facility, Lucas Heights in Sydney.

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