Australian government assistant minister rejects call for ban on Muslims

(Photo: REUTERS / David Gray)A man wearing an Islamic prayer cap, or "Kufi", looks at Islamic books on display at a bookshop located in the western Sydney suburb of Lakemba October 3, 2014. Last month, the national security agency raised its four-tier threat level to "high" for the first time and about 900 police launched raids on homes in Sydney's predominantly Muslim western suburbs and in Brisbane. Only about half a million people out of Australia's 23.5 million are Muslims, making them a tiny fraction in a country where the final vestiges of the "White Australia" policy were only abolished in 1973, allowing large scale non-European migration. At least half of Australia's Muslims live in Sydney's western suburbs, which were transformed in the mid-1970s from white working-class enclaves into majority-Muslim outposts by a surge of immigration from Lebanon. Picture taken October 3, 2014

Australia is now debating restricting Muslim migration but views on this stance advocated  the United States by Donald Trump have failed to gain traction with the administration.

The country's new assistant minister for multicultural affairs has rejected calls from a television host to ban Muslim migration, because the government "does not discriminate on the basis of religion."

Zed Seselja also rejected anti-migrant lawmaker Pauline Hanson's platform on migrants and committed to the government's position not to change laws prohibiting public acts that offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate people on the basis of race.

Asked on Radio National about TV host Sonia Kruger's fear of immigration by Muslims and call for a ban on Muslim migration, Seselja said July 20, "We can't pretend people don't feel that fear but the prescription is not one the government supports."

Her call has triggered a national debate on the issue.

"We don't have discrimination on the basis of religion when it comes to our immigration program, and nor should we," noted Seselja while saying Kruger should not be demonized because she had "expressed how she feels".

Asked whether Muslim Australians should be afraid of calls like one letter to the Australian calling for them to be interned in camps, Seselja said "we don't have anything to fear – we live in one of the safest nations on Earth" and border security kept Australians safe.

"These debates are difficult, it's reasonable that people feel unease. When we have debates about what inspires terrorism, [what inspires people] to go, as we saw in Nice, to slaughter dozens and dozens of innocent people, then of course there's going to be fear."

Seselja said it was hard to know exactly why people voted for Hanson because they did so for a range of reasons, but Hanson had earned her spot in the Senate.

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