Australia anti-Islam party says 'Trump' comparison unfair

Australian Liberty Alliance - launched by far right Dutch anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders - has platform of anti-Muslim immigration, as does US Republican presidential front-runner

Australia anti-Islam party says 'Trump' comparison unfair

World Bulletin / News Desk

An Australian political party launched by far right Dutch anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders has attempted to defend its stance on Islam, saying that it doesn't have a problem with Muslims per se, just with the religious ideology they follow.

Local media have compared Australian Liberty Alliance (ALA) policies to those of U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump, while its New South Wales candidate claimed in a video uploaded to Facebook that she wasn't racist as "mosques are not a race".

"Mosques are not like other places of worship. They are not like churches, synagogues or temples," Kirralie Smith said.

"Is she Australia's Donald Trump?" asks The Sydney Morning Herald.

In a phone interview with Anadolu Agency on Thursday, Smith said that the party simply saw Islam as being "more than a religion".

"There is a totalitarian ideology and military aspirations," she claimed. “The other problem is Sharia Law, which is oppressive to many minority groups, including gays, women and Christians and others.”

Kuranda Seyit, spokesperson for the Islamic Council of Victoria, strongly disagrees, telling Anadolu Agency on Friday that the political stance of Smith and the ALA is constantly "riddled with contradictions".

"Their agenda is quite obvious. Although they say they are not racist they are targeting an ethno-religious community clearly identifiable by their cultural practices," he underlines. 

"The party [ALA] is founded on a discriminatory premise. Besides that, they have no substance as a political entity and have no substantial policies. Their only purpose is to create fear, suspicion and division in our society."

Trump, a Republican Party candidate for the White House, has a political platform based on a call to ban all Muslims entering the U.S. -- a stance mirrored by the ALA, according to Fairfax media.

"I think Donald Trump stole our ideas," Smith -- a prominent anti-Halal campaigner -- is reported to have joked in an interview with the media outlet.

In its manifesto, the ALA calls for a 10-year ban on residency visas to people arriving from Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member countries.

It makes an exception, however, for "persecuted non-Muslim minorities" living in those countries.

Talking to Anadolu Agency, however, Smith says any comparison between her and the U.S. presidential candidate is “laughable”.

Jamal Rifi, a prominent figure in the Lebanese Muslim community in Sydney, agrees with her stance, telling Anadolu Agency on Friday that Smith "is definitely no Donald". 

"Whereas Donald Trump is vying for the Presidency of the USA, this lady is [purely] an aspirant politician [aiming] to become a member of Parliament at the... reputation of Australian Muslims," he says.

The Fairfax article states that the ALA wants all mosques shut down, the reporter using a quote from a video on Smith's Facebook page to back up her claim. 

“The fact is that being opposed to a mosque does not make you a racist, mosques are not a race,” Smith says in a post that she claims has reached half a million people.

In her email to Anadolu Agency, however, Smith denies she seeks such closure.

“ALA policy does not seek to close all mosques. It is our policy to require entities who wish to operate formal places [of] worship and schools to become 'Accredited Religious Organisation'," she states.

Membership of the ALA has quadrupled since its launch in a secret location in Perth in Oct. 2015. The public wasn’t invited to the inauguration, and the media were excluded.

The ALA claimed their decision was for anti-Islam MP Wilder’s safety. The Dutch MP's party seeks to close Islamic schools, tax Muslims who choose to wear headscarves and ban the Quran.

In a brief phone interview with Anadolu Agency on Thursday, ALA President Debbie Robinson -- who also heads the Q Society, a group that describes itself as “Australia’s leading Islam-critical movement” -- wouldn’t reveal the party's membership figure, but said that numbers are growing steadily.

She noted they “spiked” after Australian Conservatives went on the search for a new political party after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull ousted Tony Abbott as the country's leader last September.

 Robinson claimed that on the night of the leadership change, views of ALA’s social media page -- which previously averaged around 38,000 a week -- "skyrocketed to 809,000". 

Last Mod: 08 Nisan 2016, 11:05
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