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Monday, 17 September 2012
Page: 7039


Senator BERNARDI (South Australia) (15:14): Following Senator Stephens in this debate on the motion to take note of the answers given by Senator Evans today, I would like to say that there are some shared concerns on most sides of the political debate on this. I would make the point to Senator Stephens, though, that it has not been condemned by everybody. Indeed, there was an article published in Green Left Weeklyblaming the police for the riots on the weekend—which beggars belief, even for an extreme green organisation and outfit.

It would be of no surprise to people in this chamber and anyone listening that I have been concerned about the impact and the progress of fundamentalist Islam in this country for many years. I have sounded many warnings, and I have been pilloried, attacked, condemned and criticised. I have been told that I am not telling the truth. When I produced the evidence, when I showed that the government was facilitating the demands of some of the extremists in respect to sharia compliant finance, I was told that I was making it up—until I gave them the press releases that Senator Sherry had put out and the booklets that they had launched. This necessitated changing our laws with regard to insolvency and Corporations Law. It would have established a sharia compliant tribunal.

The point that I am making—not to attack the government, because I think they have condemned these riots, like everything else—is that every single appeasement of sharia or Islamic law in this country is a step enhancing and emboldening the fundamentalists who want it. Every time they say, 'We want polygamy,' and it goes unchallenged, it advances their cause and emboldens them. Every time they say they want legal plurality, as the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils did in a submission to a joint committee, it undermines our critical values and the pillars of Western democracy, which are, firstly, the rule of law—one rule applying equally to everybody—and, secondly, the Judeo Christian values, which, whether you are a person of faith or not, have built the bedrock of how we treat each other in this society.

So we need to reject at every single turn the demands of the fundamentalists, no matter how minute, small or petty they may seem to be. Until they are denounced and until they are condemned and rejected out of hand, we will continue to see the progress of their agenda. And their agenda is a dangerous one. What happened on the weekend, including the signs of 'Behead those who insult the prophet', or 'Behead those who insult Islam', is exactly the same signature and signage of the same small group of dissident extremists who started this campaign in England and in parts of Western Europe. If you want to see the demonstration of that 10, 20 or 30 years on, go there now and have a look and you will see that there is isolation, there is a separatist culture and there is fear. We cannot be scared to stand up for the values of the right of peaceful protest and the right to have freedom of religion in this country. But that does not give anyone the right to undermine and destroy the essential pillars that have united us through generations of migration.

I welcome the fact that many people and leaders in the Muslim community have condemned these attacks, but some of them would be more genuine if they did not have a history of pushing for sharia or accommodations of Islamic laws themselves. That is what worries me. It worries me that they completely change their course to appear reasonable in the face of public sentiment, when perhaps they are doing something else behind the scenes. I say that because I genuinely fear for the future of our country if we allow these extremists to continue along their way of making demands—whether those demands are about not showing their face to a police officer and then running to the press and saying that the police officer is a racist because they wanted someone to unveil themselves or whether it is about making all sorts of hysterical outbursts every time there is any examination of the agenda of the sharia advocates—and we are going to stifle public debate.

It worries me that people like Senator Conroy are critical of Google for having the YouTube video up—which is just a ridiculous movie, might I add. I have watched it and it is just ridiculous, pathetic and hopeless. One person made that movie—one person—and four people have died and dozens of people around the world have been injured. This is an outrage. It is a disgrace. Rather than condemn Google, we need to condemn the perpetrators of these terrible acts and we need to denounce their agenda fulsomely. I look forward to bipartisan support for that. (Time expired)