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Accept it - Australia is secular, liberal, democratic

By Irfan Yusuf - posted Thursday, 8 December 2005

The Australian newspaper reported (21/11/05) that Liberal backbencher Alby Schultz wanted to make it harder for people from countries with “a history of anti-Christian behaviour” to migrate to Australia. Why?

He said, “We cannot afford under the present uncertainty we have in the world, we can't afford to take any chances.”

What is less clear is exactly what Mr Schultz meant by “anti-Christian behaviour”. Was he referring to countries which persecute Christians on the basis of religion? Or did he mean countries which have a non-Christian religion as their state religion?


How is anti-Christian behaviour to be defined? Would Palestinian Christian immigrants from Israel or the Occupied Territories be included? What about Muslim asylum seekers from Communist China?

Mr Schultz’s comments were made in the context of an attack on Morris Iemma for providing a letter of support for a migration application made by an associate of French terror suspect Willie Brigitte.

Yet Brigitte’s associate has not been charged with any offences, while Brigitte himself is still in French custody. Are we to deduce that France is an “anti-Christian country”?

Then again, in light of France’s decision to ban the wearing of all religious symbols in state schools (including presumably crucifixes and the headdress worn by the Mother of Christ), perhaps the anti-Christian label is not so inappropriate.

And how does Mr Schultz propose such a policy be implemented in practice? Which migration categories would be covered? Would new religious criteria apply to refugee and humanitarian categories?

Mr Schultz is not the first conservative politician or commentator to call for the reinstatement of an immigration policy which discriminates on the basis of race or religion. Former National Party Senator John Stone called for the formation of a Queen Isabella Society, presumably it seems to forcibly remove Muslims such as myself from Western countries in the same manner as the Spanish Queen who started the Spanish Inquisition.


One wonders whether, once the Muslims have been dealt with, Mr Stone will follow Queen Isabella’s lead and call for a further inquisition of our Jewish community. These recent comments follow Mr Stone’s claims in On Line Opinion (18/8/05) of Australia’s “rapidly growing Muslim problem”.

And Mr Stone’s solution to this problem? Stone suggested, “We must fundamentally rethink our immigration policies and our official policies of multiculturalism (that is, non-assimilation). Our future immigration policy should focus on whether those concerned are capable of assimilating into an Australian culture shaped by, and part of, a Judeo-Christian Western civilisation.”

Easier said than done. For a start, there is little evidence to suggest that non-Christians integrate any less successfully into mainstream Australian life. Australia’s largest non-Christian faith community follows the teachings of Buddha, not Muhammad.

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About the Author

Irfan Yusuf is a New South Wales-based lawyer with a practice focusing on workplace relations and commercial dispute resolution. Irfan is also a regular media commentator on a variety of social, political, human rights, media and cultural issues. Irfan Yusuf's book, Once Were Radicals: My Years As A Teenage Islamo-Fascist, was published in May 2009 by Allen & Unwin.

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