Australian immigration minister singles out Lebanese-Muslim migrants as source of terrorism

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 November, 2016, 5:38pm
UPDATED : Monday, 21 November, 2016, 5:38pm

Australia’s Immigration Minister Peter Dutton doubled-down on recent comments maintaining that allowing immigration from some countries was a “mistake,” singling out Lebanese-Muslims on Monday as a source of terrorism.

Our hardworking migrant communities shouldn’t have to tolerate this kind of ignorant stupidity and [Dutton] needs to immediately apologise
Opposition leader Bill Shorten

Speaking in question time in the Australian lower house, Dutton said Lebanese nationals, the bulk of whom arrived in Australia around the time of the Lebanese civil war that began in 1975, were over-represented in terrorist-related offences.

“The advice I have is that out of the last 33 people who have been charged with terrorist-related offences in this country, 22 of those people are from second and third generation Lebanese-Muslim background,” he said.

“Many people who have built this country over many decades deserve to be praised. But I am going to call out those people who are doing the wrong thing.”

Dutton made the statement after opposition leader Bill Shorten questioned him on comments made in a television interview in which he said former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser of the Liberal party made “mistakes in bringing some people in, in the 1970s, and we’re seeing that today.”

Unsurprisingly, Dutton’s comments drew ire from across the political spectrum, with Shorten calling on Dutton to apologise for the “shameful remarks.”

“Enough is enough. Our hardworking migrant communities shouldn’t have to tolerate this kind of ignorant stupidity and [Dutton] needs to immediately apologise,” he said in a statement.

“Millions of people, from all walks of life and from all corners of the world, have made Australia their home – and whole country has benefited as a result.”

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation noted that it is not the first time that Lebanese-background Australians have been singled out, with a leaked government National Security Committee document in February also pointing to Lebanese-linked extremists in Australia.

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“The most prominent ethnic group amongst Australian Sunni extremists are the Lebanese. The majority of this cohort can be linked to the wave of humanitarian migration to Australia as a result of the Lebanese civil war (1975-1990), as well as their extended families and Australian-born descendants,” the document read.

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According to the brief, the “intake led to the transportation to Australia of a Sunni community which included elements who already held extremist beliefs, or who were more highly receptive to extremist messages.” “While there have been instances of extremist violence from within this community, most activities relate to the provision of ideological or political support and/or fundraising.”