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Australia: PM’s meeting with Muslim leaders ’fruitful’ despite Grand Mufti’s boycott

Thursday 22 November 2018, by siawi3


SBS News

PM’s meeting with Muslim leaders ’fruitful’ despite Grand Mufti’s boycott

The prime minister’s roundtable with Muslim leaders went ahead, despite many prominent figures not attending.

22.11.18 Updated 9 hours ago

By Sarah Wiedersehn

Video here 01:12

A meeting between Prime Minister Scott Morrison and some Muslim community held in light of the recent terrorism-related attack in Melbourne has been described as “fruitful and productive” - despite the absence of the Grand Mufti.

The meeting was convened by the prime minister to discuss extremist radical Islam.

But Australia’s Grand Mufti, Dr Ibrahim Abu and eight other Islamic leaders decided to boycott the roundtable discussion over the PM’s tough stance on Islamist terrorism after the Bourke Street attack in Melbourne, saying they had “alienated” segments of their community.

Photo: Australian PM Scott Morrison met with Islamic leaders.

Despite their fierce backlash, the meeting went ahead in Sydney on Thursday.

Dr Jamal Rifi, a prominent Lebanese Muslim leader, was in attendance and said it was very worthwhile.

“We had a very fruitful meeting; amicable, honest ... everyone was happy,” Dr Rifi said.

He said many good ideas were discussed, although he did not go into detail.

Dr Rifi also took a veiled swipe at those who chose not to take part and defended the comments of Mr Morrison.

“If the Prime Minister of Australia wants to meet with us to get our opinion we should definitely make that effort; we had his eyes and ears today, we had good exchange of opinions, it was a very fruitful meeting,” Dr Riffi told SBS News.

Photo: Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohamed, Grand Mufti of Australia.

“We discussed many issues, our objective was what can we all do to keep Australia safe and keep Australia’s Muslim community also safe,” he said.

READ MORE: Australia’s Grand Mufti confirms he is the only legitimate leader

A group of leaders, including Grand Mufti Ibrahim Abu Mohamed, signed a letter on Tuesday night telling Mr Morrison they won’t be attending.

Mr Morrison tweeted in response that the meeting would be going ahead, with those who want to deal with the issue “rather than look the other way”.

Photo: The PM called on Muslim leaders to do more to combat extremism.

“Some have chosen to publicly boycott this meeting. Continuing down a path of denial only lets their communities down. It makes their communities less safe and more vulnerable,” he wrote.

Read more
Combo image: Grand Mufti Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohamed (R) and Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks during a press conference in Sydney on Saturday (AAP)
Scott Morrison accuses Muslim leaders of failing community by boycotting meeting

Mr Morrison told Islamic leaders they need to do more to combat extremism after a man stabbed another man to death in Melbourne’s Bourke Street on November 11.

In his defence, Dr Rifi said Mr Morrison’s comments were well-intended.

“What the prime minister said was not a reflection of the whole Australian Muslim community; he knows the good work that we do, he knows that actually our religion is actually a peaceful religion; he knows that actually those people who have misinterpreted verses of our Koran and they have used a misinterpretation and misguided ideology to actually ensnare some of the vulnerable people in our community to be victim of their radical ideology,” Dr Rifi said.