‘Making excuses’: PM hits back at Islamic leader
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has doubled down on his criticism of the Islamic community in the wake of the Bourke Street terror attack.
Mr Morrison visited Pellegrini's cafe this morning to pay his respects to Sisto Malaspina, the beloved restaurateur who was killed in Friday's attack.
He reiterated his call for imams and other members of the community to be better at identifying radicalised people in their congregations and alerting the authorities.
"I won't cop the excuses," he said.
"For those who want to stick their head in the sand, for those who want to make excuses for those who stick their head in the sand, you are not making Australia safer. You are giving people an excuse to look the other way and not deal with things right in front of you.
"If there are people in a religious community, an Islamic community, that are bringing in hateful, violent, extremist ideologies into your community, you've got to call it out."
"This person was on the watch list. So what did they do? Nothing," Sheik Omran told The Australian.
"We want to be really truthful with each other. This bloody Prime Minister, instead of turning the heat on somebody else, he should answer us about what he did.
"He has spent billions of dollars - billions - on security services. And what is the end result? We have crazy people in the streets."
Yesterday Australia's Grand Mufti, Ibrahim Abu Mohamed, told SBS Arabic Mr Morrison's position constituted "serious discrimination" against Muslims.
He also took aim at Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton.
"We do not need Dutton's plea to remember our duties," he said. "I'd like to remind him that security agencies failed to do their job."
Meanwhile Muslims Australia wrote to the Prime Minister and urged him to apologise.
When he spoke outside Pellegrini's, Mr Morrison rejected the criticism, saying it was the community's responsibility to be vigilant for radicalisation.
"Communities need to ensure they weed this out," he said.
"I'm a member of a religious community, and my pastor knows what's going on in our church community.
"He would know if there was someone, or his wife would know if there was someone leading a local Bible study group or something like that who was teaching things that were not in accordance with what our faith believed. They'd be pointing that out and they'd be dealing with it."
He would not reveal the details of how Ali was radicalised, citing "the cone of silence of the investigation", but said it clearly happened in Australia.
"He was radicalised in this country. He came here when he was five years old, for goodness' sake," the Prime Minister said.
"What happened here, happened here. And so we need to focus on what happened here, that is a man grew up in this country, and was radicalised with these hateful views and beliefs, and he didn't get it from the postman. He didn't get it from the police. He got it from the community he was living in and the people he was speaking to."
He stressed that some imams were "brave" and deserved to be applauded for "protecting the integrity" of their communities.
Labor leader Bill Shorten was more circumspect in his own comments addressing the "evil tragedy" this morning.
"I can understand why people what to lash out, want to blame different groups or want to blame politicians, or want to blame Mr Morrison. I actually think we've got to take a step back," Mr Shorten said.
"There are a few radicalised troublemakers, no question, and pretending that isn't the case doesn't make it go away. But by the same token, the vast bulk of Muslim Australians, the vast, vast bulk, love their country, and I don't want to tag a whole group of Australians just by the actions of a few.
"We need calmness and coolness."
Mr Morrison's Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton made a similar point to the Prime Minsiter on Sunday, as he pleaded with Australians to help close a "black spot" in the country's ability to detect terror threats.
"There is a real black spot for us, and that is a vulnerability," Mr Dutton admitted, citing comments from Duncan Lewis, the Director-General of Security at ASIO, who said potential terrorists were using encrypted apps so their messages couldn't be discovered.
"It is even more difficult today than it was five or ten years ago to try to deal with some of these cases," Mr Dutton said.
"The police can't contemplate every circumstance.
"Where you have someone who is buying chemicals, importing or purchasing online different items that might be precursors to make up an explosive device, you would expect there to be intelligence around that activity.
"Where you have someone who picks up a kitchen knife and grabs a couple of gas bottles and drives into the CBD, these are very difficult circumstances to stop."
Mr Dutton did not reveal why Ali's passport was revoked in 2015, saying only that he had been spoken to by ASIO and other agencies and there was "no evidence" an attack was imminent.
"The judgement made about this individual was that he was not in the planning stage of the attack," he said.
The Home Affairs Minister indicated it was critical for Australians to report suspicious activity, to help authorities compensate for the "black spot".
"Unless there's advice, as I say, from a community member or from a family member, or there's advice as the result of a surveillance process or intercept of a telecommunications device, then it is very, very difficult," Mr Dutton said.
"My plea is to people within particularly the Islamic community, but across society. If you have information, if you see a behaviour of an individual or family member, someone in a workplace, that causes you concern, provide that information.
"It may lead to somebody not going to Bourke Street Mall or not committing an offence that results in loss of life.
"There may be no phone call. There may be no advice or planning or purchasing of particular precursors to make an improvised explosive device. So again, we need to be realistic about this.
"That is why it is important for us to get as much information from the imams, from spouses, from family members, community members, council workers, people that might be interacting with those that might have changed their behaviours."