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Minister welcomes support for community harmony.

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Gary Hardgrave MP Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs

Media Release H104/2003 - 2 August 2003

Minister Welcomes Support for Community Harmony

The Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, Gary Hardgrave, has welcomed the extent to which Australia's Islamic spiritual leader Sheikh Taj Din Al Hilaly has spoken out in support of Australian values.

'I am pleased to see Sheik Al Hilaly and the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils defending multiculturalism so vigorously and promoting community harmony, especially in the face of events outside our country which can create tensions here.'

'As Australians, we place a high premium on respect for each other, loyalty to our country and we greatly value our cultural diversity. These sentiments are reflected in the citizenship pledge.

'It is vital community leaders like Sheik Al Hilaly speak out in this way as they have a responsibility to promote harmony in the Australian community. There is no inconsistency with Australian values and Muslim beliefs, and Sheik Al Hilaly is right to highlight his concerns that some from outside Australia don't understand this.'

'Australia has a long history of democracy and social harmony. We encourage all Australians to work together to promote peace between ourselves and celebrate the unity and cohesiveness that makes us the envy of other nations. But harmony should never be taken for granted and it is up to all of us to play our part.

'The key to the success of Australian Multiculturalism is inclusiveness. Every Australian benefits from our diversity and all Australians have the right to be active and equal participants in our society, free to live their lives and maintain their cultural traditions within the rule of law.'

Media contact: Amanda Lynch 0419 123 862