Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Time to halt Muslim immigration into Australia?

In the space of a month, three prominent figures have come out in support of a halt to Muslim immigration into Australia.

First off was Professor Raphael Israeli , an expert on Islamic history from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem,

"When the Muslim population gets to a critical mass you have problems. That is a general rule, so if it applies everywhere it applies in Australia."

Then Fred Nile, the leader of the Christian Democratic Party, entered the debate saying

"I pray that within a decade, Muslims in Australia will clearly have demonstrated their commitment to Aussie values including democratic pluralism and the rights of women. We can then assess whether Muslim immigration should begin again,"

And finally, that much derided political figure, Pauline Hanson, launched her bid to become an Australian Senator later this year with this,

"We have to decide now whether we want to go the way Britain, France and the Netherlands have gone. England's being lost. It's losing its identity and its way of life."

Muslims first entered Australia in significant numbers in the late 1970s in the wake of the Lebanese Civil War. At the time of the last Census in 2001, there were 300,000 Muslims recorded as living in Australia out of a total population of around 19 million. Integration of this community has not gone as smoothly as with other cultures, with higher crime rates, higher unemployment, greater drug use and the emergence of a second generation of more fundamentalist and isolationist Muslims. The recently released All Eyes on Youth Study makes for alarming reading, highlighting young Muslims' sense of alienation in the Australian community.

However, is banning further immigration of Muslims the answer? Absolutely not.

For a start, there is no surer way of radicalising those existing law-abiding Muslims. They would rightfully feel unwanted, unloved and the younger ones would seek out imams preaching hatred of the West.

Secondly, this policy is discriminatory. To its credit, Australia does not currently discriminate on the basis of faith, race or culture. To do so would be a backward step and a reminder of the bad old days of the 'White Australia Policy'.

Thirdly, if Australia introduced this policy, it would endanger the lives of Australians abroad. They would become 'legitimate' targets in the eyes of young brainwashed Muslim minds, whether in Middle Eastern countries or in London or Rotterdam.

Yet to ignore the problems within the Muslim community is as unjust as demanding a halt to its expansion. We must find ways to both help Muslims better integrate and to weed out those who have no real interest in becoming Australian citizens.

Here are some more palatable and practical solutions

  • Fluency in English must be a precondition of citizenship. This is to aid integration into the wider community and to help immigrants gain employment.
  • Welfare must be curtailed for residents, who must become self-sufficient.
  • The residency period must be extended from two years to five.
  • Citizenship must depend on a the absence of a criminal record during these five years.
  • The ability to admit relatives must be tightened for all.
  • Citizenship must entail a cost to ensure those who choose it appreciate its value, and to extract value for Australia's existing citizens

All these policies are non-discriminatory, regard citizenship as a privilege not a right, and encourage integration leading to higher earnings, less isolation and lower unemployment for recent immigrant communities. All can be found on the LDP Policy Page.