The Lebanese-Muslim community in Australia was left hurt and angered after Immigration Minister Peter Dutton suggested that allowing their grandparents and parents into the country was a big mistake.
Targeting former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser’s immigration policies from back in the '70s, Dutton singled out the particular minority in federal parliament after Bill Shorten, leader of the opposition, asked him a sardonic question: “Which group of people, from which country, does the minister believe should not have been allowed into Australia?”
The minister responded by linking terrorism to second- and third-generation Australians.
“The advice I have is that out of the last 33 people who have been charged with terrorist-related offenses in this country, 22 of those people are from second and third generation Lebanese-Muslim background,” he said, prompting harsh reactions from other members.
Scores of Lebanese Muslims took to social media to express their emotions.
I am Lebanese Australian I am a lawyer- my siblings include doctor, psychologist, teacher & one is studying Physiotherapy #auspol— Mina (@mina_ysf) November 21, 2016
Peter Dutton should resign for his comments against the Lebanese-Australian community, no ifs or buts. #qanda— Travis Hughes (@tunamornay) November 21, 2016
I immigrated to ???? from ???? when Mr Fraser was PM. I'm not a "mistake." I'm a proud Australian Lebanese Muslim. Shame on you, @PeterDutton_MP— Sam Bazzi (@sambazzi63) November 21, 2016
Do Lebanese Muslim Australians who really have to spend their entire lives being questioned and demonised? At what point will we say enough?— Ruby Hamad (@rubyhamad) November 21, 2016
@PeterDutton_MP I'm a Lebanese-Australian who was born here. I work full-time and and pay taxes so that fucknuts like you can offend me. Gr8— Kelly Azizi (@KellyMyDear) November 22, 2016
Australia's Lebanese Muslim Association President, Samier Dandan, issued an impassioned video message for Dutton.
“Let us not beat around the bush here, what Mr. Dutton said was racist, what he implied was racist, and the lack of outrage in Parliament reflects on the racism underscoring much of how we talk about minorities in Australia,” said Dandan. “The Australian Lebanese community is not political fodder. Mr. Dutton is accountable for his divisive rhetoric and we would remind him that he and his government's responsibility is to preserve our successful multicultural country.”
The Australian National Imams Council also labeled Dutton's comments “racist” and “outrageous.”
“The ploy of shifting blame exposes the government's abdication of its responsibility to deal effectively with the threat of terrorism,” the council said in a statement. “For more than 40 years Australian Muslims of Lebanese background have been making significant and positive contributions to farming, education, health and much more.”
Meanwhile, amid the outcry of stereotyping Lebanese Muslims, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull praised Peter Dutton as an “outstanding” Immigration Minister. However, when asked specifically if he supported the minister's rhetoric, Turnbull refused to join in.
Malcolm Turnbull's silence over Peter Dutton's attack on Australia's Lebanese community speaks volumes. Racist & cowardly— Sarah Hanson-Young (@sarahinthesen8) November 21, 2016