Albury religious leaders unite to say One Nation does not speak for all people of faith

UNITY: Father MacLeod-Miller, Kwik Kebab owner Hamidur Rahman and his 3-year-old son Farhan with Father Kevin Flanagan. Picture: ELENOR TEDENBORG

UNITY: Father MacLeod-Miller, Kwik Kebab owner Hamidur Rahman and his 3-year-old son Farhan with Father Kevin Flanagan. Picture: ELENOR TEDENBORG

POLITICAL party One Nation has pushed its anti-Islam message into the spotlight, but an Albury religious leader says people should change their way of thinking.

The party's leader, Pauline Hanson, used her maiden speech to claim the nation was being “swamped by Muslims”.

Father Peter MacLeod-Miller, of St Matthew's Anglican Church, said there were many faiths on the Border which was still one community.

The parish had been in regular contact with other churches and faiths, including the Islamic Society of Albury-Wodonga.

He said the world had changed and the church needed to change with it.

“It's about leadership and giving people permission to think differently,” Father MacLeod-Miller said.

“Faith is sometimes used to hate people who are different.

“The problem is people have used biblical literalism – if you look at the way the bible has been abused and the same with other religious books – people use it as an excuse to take control or to punish people.

“The bible is a map. We need to show people how to read it in modern age otherwise we are destined for more problems.”

Father MacLeod-Miller’s comments come following new statistics, which revealed almost half the people surveyed were against Muslim immigration.

The Essential poll, released on Wednesday, found 49 per cent of Australians supported a ban, which included 60 per cent of Coalition voters, 40 per cent of Labor voters and 34 per cent of Greens voters.

Respondents cited terrorism fears as a reason for their support.

Other common reasons were a belief that Muslim migrants did not integrate into society or share Australian values. More than 1000 people were initially surveyed in August, but the poll was repeated to ensure it was not a rogue.

Islamic Society's Hamidur Rahman said he hoped the friendship between faiths would act as an example for the community.

“We live in such a beautiful country, we should respect each other,” he said.

“We have at least 20 Muslim doctors in this community, female and male, they are helping this community and they are educated.

“They pay tax, how can you just say you should not allow someone to be here as a Muslim?” 

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