SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association)-The Muslim concerns were revealed during an interview by Sydney community leader, Dr Jamal Rifi, who debated the issue with the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Scott Morrison, last Friday, August 29.
Dr Rifi said he wanted to alert the federal government to “anxiety” in the Muslim community that people may be targeted by anti-terrorism units operating at Australian airports if they joined the thousands of Australian Muslims who usually travel on the annual pilgrimage.
Concerns maximized after a Melbourne Muslim couple had been banned from travelling to Malaysia on holiday, when the husband was detained and questioned for five hours.
Released with no charges, the Muslim husband and his wife got free tickets to Malaysia by the government.
The incident followed calls by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to toughen “counter- terror” laws.
The proposed law, which comes in response to the claimed reports of Australians joining fighting overseas, will facilitates arresting terror suspects, detain them without charges along with revoking their passports.
Under the new law, which will be funded by $630 million, faces of the Australian travelers will be scanned before flying to other countries.
Two weeks ago, a galaxy of Australian Muslim leaders have called for an uprising against Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s proposed anti-terror measures, calling it “hypocritical” and “unjustified.”
Signed by about 60 Muslim leaders, including senior imams, the statement denounced imposing a law to fight “home-grown” extremism, saying that there was no evidence that dozens of Australian Muslims have travelled to fight in Iraq or Syria.
Calming Muslims’ anxiety, Morrison, the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, assured that agencies will deal properly with would-be pilgrims.
“I would expect my agencies to be acting with sensitivity and commonsense, regardless of who they [the passengers] are, where they are from, and where they are travelling,” Morrison was quoted by the Sunday Morning Herald on Saturday, August 30.
The minister has also stressed that people “who had legitimate reasons for travel shouldn’t be concerned”.
Attorney General George Brandis shared a similar opinion, stressing that travelling for the Hajj is a “legitimate” reason for travel.
Muslims’ warns against travel ban followed reports that five people were stopped and denied boarding over claims they were traveling to restive regions.
Moreover, Muslims in Sydney’s south-western suburbs have been complaining of hate crimes including sending hate mails to business owners in Lakemba and Greenacre.
For Rifi, the community leader, the anti-Muslim attacks have hampered the unity campaign of “Muslims love Australia for 100 years”.
Muslims, who have been in Australia for more than 200 years, make up 1.7 percent of its 20-million population.
Islam is the country’s second largest religion after Christianity.
Muslims from around the world pour into Makkah every year to perform hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam.
Hajj consists of several ceremonies, which are meant to symbolize the essential concepts of the Islamic faith, and to commemorate the trials of Prophet Abraham and his family.
Every able-bodied adult Muslim who can financially afford the trip must perform hajj at least once in a lifetime.