The Howard Government's multicultural spokesman, Andrew Robb, yesterday told an audience of 100 imams who address Australia's mosques that these were tough times requiring great personal resolve.We are constantly told that it is a small minority of Muslim extremists that are conducting their violent Jihad. I accept that. But, it is the the majority of non-violent Muslims who need to be outspoken against the Jihdists and who need to quell the violence in the ranks of their own brethren.
Mr Robb also called on them to shun a victim mentality that branded any criticism as discrimination.
"We live in a world of terrorism where evil acts are being regularly perpetrated in the name of your faith," Mr Robb said at the Sydney conference.
"And because it is your faith that is being invoked as justification for these evil acts, it is your problem.
"You can't wish it away, or ignore it, just because it has been caused by others.
"Instead, speak up and condemn terrorism, defend your role in the way of life that we all share here in Australia."
Mr Robb said unless Muslims took responsibility for their destiny and tackled the causes of terrorism, Australia would become divided.
Mr Robb, the parliamentary secretary for immigration and multicultural affairs, said it was important for migrants to learn English.
"I see as critical the need for imams to have effective English language skills -- it is a self-evident truth that a shared language is one of the foundations of national cohesion," he said.
On the eve of Mr Robb's release today of a discussion paper on a new citizenship test, the chairman of the Government's Muslim Reference Group, Dr Ameer Ali, said Opposition Leader Kim Beazley's idea of a values test was silly, as was the need for a universal English test.
He called for an orientation program for new migrants akin to a university student's orientation week.
Read literally, the Koran, the Hadith and the life of Muhammed can incite violence. But there are other interpretations, such as that expressed by Alykhan Velshi. We don't hear voices like those of Mr. Velshi often enough. And I suspect these voices are not often enough heard within the mosques, either.
That is why Mr. Bush needs to speak as plainly and directly as Australia's Andrew Robb.