SHAFAQNA -Â Australian Islamic leaders are cautiously optimistic that the countryâ€™s 29th prime minister, c, will be a circuit breaker and help counter the nationâ€™s increasingly vocal Islamophobes.
Turnbull successfully mounted a challenge toÂ Liberal Party Leader Tony Abbott on Monday,Â thereby securing himself the prime ministership.
Dr. Jamal Rifi, an influentialÂ voice inÂ theÂ western SydneyÂ Muslim community who worked with Turnbull during his campaign for an Australian republic, is confident that his former colleague will adopt a policy of inclusiveness â€œthat will bridge and heal the fracture linesâ€ created â€œby the previous governmentâ€.
In the last year, Grand Mufti Dr. Ibrahim Abu MohamedÂ hasÂ advised Abbott to give up his day job, saying he should â€œwork in any field other than politics,â€ whileÂ an international Muslim organization even accused himÂ ofÂ using Australia’s Muslims as a scapegoat to sew up his dwindling popularity.
Rifi told Anadolu Agency on ThursdayÂ that he wants to see the Turnbull-led government â€œview the Australian Muslim community as a partner when tackling the issue of radicalisation, and see it, not as a threat to society, but as a first line of defenceâ€.
â€œThatâ€™s why we need to put emphasis on hope and less on fear,â€ Rifi added
On Tuesday night,Â tensions again simmeredÂ in Bendigo,Â a regional city in Victoria, over the building of a mosque. The area has been a focus ofÂ anti-racism demonstratorsÂ andÂ anti-Islam group, theÂ United Patriots Front.
Reflecting on last nightâ€™sÂ protests, Rifi hit out at the Abbott government for being a â€œdivisiveâ€ voice.
Bendigo had approved the construction of the cityâ€™s first mosque in June 2014, despite loud and angry opposition.Â Opponents had appealed to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to haveÂ the council decision overturned, but were unsuccessful.
They are now seeking to challenge theÂ decision in the Supreme Court.
â€œBefore [Abbott]Â used fear as a political tool for government,â€ Rifi said, adding that â€œthe Australian Muslim community showed a lot of maturity in dealing with this and forgoing confrontationâ€.
â€œWe showed compassion and understanding and patience in the way we dealt with the federal government during the Abbott years,â€ he said, claiming that the Federal government – “from the attorney generalâ€™s department to the Prime Ministerâ€™s office”-Â hadÂ made terrible mistakes.
Kuranda Seyit, spokesperson for the Islamic Council of Victoria, told Anadolu AgencyÂ that he was looking forward to Turnbull establishing a new relationship with the community.
He said the council has even written to Turnbull to congratulate him on his new position and to raise issues affecting Australian Muslims.
The council didnâ€™t raise any specific issues in the letter but Seyit said two primary issuesÂ are promoting social cohesion in society and speaking out against the wave of Islamophobia that hasÂ emerged over the past six months.
â€œOur leadership has to be stronger in terms of shutting [them] down.”
He claimed that Abbott had never spoke out publicly against Islamophobia.
“He almost indirectly condoned these racist groups under the banner of free speech,” he said.Â â€œHis language he used in public discourse was very abrasive and confrontational and unfair towards the Muslim community and he made assumptions about Islamic theology.”
Referring to Abbottâ€™s public rift with the Grand Mufti in February over Mohamed’sÂ speaking out against a possible ban on the controversial Muslim organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir, Seyit said the incident reflected Abbottâ€™s relationship with the Muslim community.
â€œWe want the language of our prime minister to be conciliatory,â€ Seyit said.Â â€œNo religious group deserves to be demonised and singled out.â€
Earlier this month Rifi was award the prestigious 2015 Australian Father of the Year Award in honour of his devotion to his family, his commitment to his profession and his strong personal efforts to build understanding between Muslim and non-Muslim communities.
This honour, Rifi told AA, â€œsends a message that [the anti Islamic group]Â Reclaim Australia does not represent the Australian society at largeâ€.
â€œAs there are voices of moderation in my community there are also voices of moderation in society at large,â€ Rifi said.
He says heÂ hopesÂ that Turnbullâ€™s approach will â€œreflect the majority in Australian society that want to heal and bridge that fracture line that existsâ€.
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