Brad Chilcott, founder of Welcome to Australia, today accused TV host Sonia Kruger and Senator-elect Pauline Hanson of creating an atmosphere that could make Australia less safe rather than safer from terrorism.

Kruger said yesterday that “as a mother” she was fearful for the safety of her family if Muslim migration was not stopped. Later, founder of the One Nation political party Pauline Hanson dominated discussion on the ABC’s Q&A programme, fielding questions on whether she would have banned Muslim Senator Sam Dastyari from migrating to Australia from Iran at the age of five and being asked to dine with a Muslim family.

“If we are serious about building a safe, prosperous and healthy society, then any kind of divisive or prejudicial commentary in the public space doesn’t help that…”

“If we are serious about building a safe, prosperous and healthy society, then any kind of divisive or prejudicial commentary in the public space doesn’t help that,” said Chilcott, whose lobby group exists to foster a culture of welcome, equality and a fair go.

“If we want to ensure that people are living in an unsafe future then we turn people against each other. Anyone interested in building a society where everyone can participate and thrive will be promoting equality and understanding and listening rather than promoting these generalisations that end up vilifying whole communities because of the actions of a few.”

Sonia Kruger has been attacked in the media over comments she made on Channel Nine's 'Today Show' about fearing for her family's safety if Muslim migration is not stopped.

Sonia Kruger has been attacked in the media over comments she made on Channel Nine’s ‘Today Show’ about fearing for her family’s safety if Muslim migration is not stopped.

Chilcott, who is pastor of Activate Church in Adelaide, accused political leaders and the media of creating space for irrational fears to “fester and be amplified”.

“If you look at the example of Jesus it was a constant welcome to the people mainstream society wanted to reject.

“The truth is that Muslims are the greatest victims of terrorism; far more Muslims die at the hands of terrorism than anyone else. Muslim people who have come here have been fleeing exactly the kinds of things we’re talking about; the 500,000 Muslims in our community are just as Australian, just as welcome, just as much citizens as any one of us and they deserve the right to live knowing that they are valuable members of society, and they don’t have to defend their right to live here every day because another person tries to make a name for themselves by attacking them again.

“It’s like saying because men are 90 per cent of domestic violence perpetrators we should kick men out of Australia or end male migration – it’s a ridiculous, illogical argument.”

Chilcott said the Christian faith was one that reached out to the other. “If you look at the example of Jesus it was a constant welcome to the people mainstream society wanted to reject. If we are true to the model of Jesus we won’t be the fearful, defensive community who are vilifying and ostracising people who are different to us, but the ones embracing them and asking them to sit down for a meal together.”

“If there is a religion or a political idea which says the aim is to establish a universal caliphate, submission to Allah and sharia law reigning across the globe, who’s starting the division? Who’s making things difficult? It’s not every Muslim, but when you’re talking about Islam it’s a core tenet of the faith.”

Conservative Christian commentator Bill Muehlenberg countered that while it would be preferable to be able to sit around the campfire and sing “kumbaya” with people of different faiths, it was Islam that was causing divisions in society.

Pauline Hanson appeared on ABC's Q&A programme last night and fielded questions about her stance on Muslims ... and an invitation to dinner.

Pauline Hanson appeared on ABC’s Q&A programme last night and fielded questions about her stance on Muslims … and an invitation to dinner.

“If there is a religion or a political idea which says the aim is to establish a universal caliphate, submission to Allah and sharia law reigning across the globe, who’s starting the division? Who’s making things difficult? It’s not every Muslim, but when you’re talking about Islam it’s a core tenet of the faith. If you happen to think freedom, democracy and the rule of law are neat things, they are not compatible with sharia law and submission to Allah, so by its very nature Islam is divisive.”

“What Pauline Hanson has done is bring out into the open a discussion of what is the nature of Islam and what is going on inside the ideology.”
After Kruger was pilloried for her comments, Muehlenberg wrote an article in support of her position.

“As Sonia said, as a mother she wants to safeguard her child. She is 100 per cent right to make that position clear. I’ve had 11,000 shares on that article in the last 24 hours – that’s unprecedented, so there’s a real groundswell of concern,” Muehlenberg told Eternity.

He believes Christians in the West need to adopt a dual response to the issue of Muslim migration.

“On the one hand we enjoy the fact that many Muslims are coming here because it gives us the chance to evangelise, to love them, befriend them and win them to Jesus.

Unfortunately, 95 per cent of Christians are not doing that in the West, so that’s our failure,” he said.

“The second half of equation is that we are citizens of two kingdoms, not only of heaven but also of earth – church and state – so while the church reaches out to Muslims seeking to win them, the state has every right to defend democracy, defend freedom.

“What Pauline Hanson has done is bring out into the open a discussion of what is the nature of Islam and what is going on inside the ideology.”

“We dare not be ignorant and gullible and think we can let just anybody in.

“I may not say we can stop all Muslim migration but we can do a better job of vetting people. If Muslims want to come here and blend in, that’s fine but if they want to live in their own enclaves they can become radicalised and end up killing our own people.”

Bernie Power, Missiologist at Melbourne School of Theology and a lecturer with the Centre for the Study of Islam and Other Faiths, said Pauline Hanson had raised an important issue.

“What Pauline Hanson has done is bring out into the open a discussion of what is the nature of Islam and what is going on inside the ideology,” Power told Eternity.

However, it was important not to see all Muslims as threats but to distinguish between Islam as an ideology and Muslims as individuals, he said.

“We need to be honest about the terrorism from within Islam – it’s not coming out of Hinduism, Buddhism or Marxism, and that needs to be looked at.”

“Pauline Hanson is putting the two together, so therefore Sam Dastyari shouldn’t be allowed into the country now, which is a silly position to have.”

Power believes Muslims should be encouraged to take a serious look at Islam and see where the extremism is coming from, then honestly recognise that this is a serious problem among certain elements and the cause of the current wave of violence.

“We need to be honest about the terrorism from within Islam – it’s not coming out of Hinduism, Buddhism or Marxism, and that needs to be looked at,” he said.

“This guy in Nice in France was radicalised quite quickly, so when people get on to this violent stream they can take it to the full conclusion.

“To say it’s because they are discriminated against and marginalised is not true because Hindus and Buddhists are just as much marginalised because of their background but they’re not getting involved in violence.”

Power said the fears expressed yesterday by TV personality Sonia Kruger for her child’s safety from Muslim migration were overblown.

“It’s not true to say it’s not safe on the streets – it is safe on the streets. People living in France might have that feeling, though.”

He believes that a variety of responses are needed because of the variety of beliefs within Islam.

“As Christians, our first response is hospitality and to welcome them. We’ve got half a million Muslims living here, including my next door neighbours, who have come here to escape Islam, and the lack of opportunity, the corruption, violence and intimidation faced by people living in Muslim society and want to come to a society that’s open and free and prosperous and that’s what Australia offers. To those people we say welcome and we know you’ll contribute well to our country,” he said.

“Whatever you say about Pauline Hanson, her strong point is this is a reality we need to find a way of solving. She’s a divisive person sometimes, but that’s the reality and people need to take it seriously.”

“But there are other Muslims here who don’t like Australian society and want to subvert and destroy it.”

Power supports a strong stance on this core of disenfranchised Muslims, deporting those known to be radicals and applying stringent entry guidelines for Muslim migrants.

Another academic with expertise in Islam, Richard Shumack, believes it would be foolish to ignore the reality that it is Muslim communities that are creating problems of terrorism.

“Whatever you say about Pauline Hanson, her strong point is this is a reality we need to find a way of solving. She’s a divisive person sometimes, but that’s the reality and people need to take it seriously,” said Shumack, a research fellow with the Centre for Public Christianity in Sydney, a faculty member at the Centre for the Study of Islam and Other Faiths at Melbourne School of Theology and part of the Understanding and Answering Islam team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.

“You speak gently, you act inclusively, you seek redemption, act compassionately to people in need.”

He believes that in terms of social interaction with Muslims the correct response is truth with grace.

“You speak gently, you act inclusively, you seek redemption, act compassionately to people in need. You’re obviously not going to say no to someone coming in as a genuine refugee but by the same token if it’s clearly a destructive person or someone who’s going to damage your community you’re going to stop them doing it.”

Shumack also believes, however, that Sonia Kruger’s response was overblown.

“If you look at France or Belgium, where they have 20 per cent Muslims, it’s problematic; there’s some truth to that, but we are so far from that we still have capacity for compassion,” he said.

“We are a very long way from the French situation where society is being attacked, so there is still a place for grace.”

Email Icon

Email This Story

Why not send this to a friend?

Share

More