Scott Morrison has criticised some of Australia’s senior Muslim leaders for boycotting a meeting with him, after comments he made following the Bourke Street terrorist attack in Melbourne.
The Prime Minister was scheduled to meet with Muslim leaders in a roundtable discussion, but a number of them decided not to attend because of comments Mr Morrison made after the attack had “alienated” parts of their community.
Mr Morrison had said following the attack that “radical, violent, extremist Islam” was the biggest threat to national security in Australia.
However, nine leaders including the Grand Mufti said they were not happy about his comments in a statement.
They said they wanted the meeting to be postponed until their concerns were addressed.
“These statements have achieved nothing to address underlying issues,” the group wrote in a statement.
Mr Morrison issued a statement on Twitter that the meeting would go ahead.
“The meeting is going ahead with those who want to deal with this issue seriously rather than look the other way,” Mr Morrison tweeted.
“Extremist radical Islam is a serious problem. We all have responsibilities to make Australia safe. And that means making sure Muslim communities do not become infiltrated with this dangerous ideology.”
“That’s why I privately invited Muslim leaders to attend a meeting, in good faith, to talk honestly about what more we should be doing to protect our communities.”
Mr Morrison said that the leaders who shunned the meeting were in denial.
“Continuing down a path of denial only lets their communities down,” he said.
“It makes their communities less safe and more vulnerable.”
Mr Morrison made comments following the attack on November 9 that he supported religious freedom but not “radical, violent, extremist Islam.”
He said Australia “would be kidding ourselves” if the country did not deal with the threat of religious extremism and radical ideology of extremists.
However, Muslim leaders said in their letter that Mr Morrison’s statements did not address underlying issues.
Around 10 groups will still attend the meeting with Mr Morrison on Thursday.