March 11, 2016

Islamophobia Watch Australia rejects islamophobic comments expressed at a recent Liberal Party preselection convention.

Islamophobia Watch Australia strongly rejects the mendacious, discriminatory and islamophobic commentary expressed at the senatorial preselection convention of the Victorian Liberal Party held this past Sunday.

In a return to inflamed anti-Muslim rhetoric championed by Tony Abbot among others, pre-selectors for Federal Liberal Party senate seats heard that “all Islamic leaders [should] sign a pledge denouncing terrorism or have their places of worship torn down.”

Senate pre-selection candidate Kurt Reiter doubled down on attacking Muslim leadership, saying “…when something horrific happens you will never hear an imam denounce it. They are actually happy about what they are doing; you celebrate when people do terrible things.”

Mr. Reiter, running on an explicitly islamophobic platform, was not reticent about his opposition to Islam, stating “I don’t think people have a full understanding of how dangerous this religion is.”

This and other deeply islamophobic messages reportedly received applause from delegates attending the convention.

IWA is deeply concerned by the lack of any expression of opposition to these blatantly islamophobic positions at the event on Sunday, and disturbed by reports of applause. Further, IWA is disturbed by the silence of state party president Michael Kroger and the party leadership.

The Liberal Party leadership cannot afford to be seen as condoning and legitimising blatant islamophobia as part of its platform’, IWA President Ahmed Abouzaid said. ‘Leadership needs to take a clear, unequivocal stance against this kind of divisive and damaging rhetoric.’

In the week where Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull made a serious effort to appeal to Victorian Muslims, the conduct of state branch leadership and senatorial candidates threaten to undermine those efforts and his credibility,” added Abouzaid.

Islamophobia Watch Australia calls on state party president Michael Kroger and the leadership of the Victorian state branch to condemn the bigotry expressed at the preselection convention, to distance itself explicitly from the remarks of Mr. Kurt Reiter, and reassure Victorians that it doesn’t deal in the politics of bigotry.

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