Uniting Church in Australia President Dr Deidre Palmer has called on the nation’s politicians to show leadership that will unite rather than divide Australians following the Bourke Street attack in Melbourne.
Dr Palmer expressed her deep sympathy for the family of much-loved restaurateur Sisto Malaspina who was stabbed and killed in the attack on 9 November.
“I join with others across the country in condemning this horrific act,” said Dr Palmer.
“It is important to remember at times like this, we are stronger when we stand beside one another and remain steadfast in our commitment to work together for a peaceful and inclusive community.”
Dr Palmer expressed concern at comments made by Prime Minister Scott Morrison linking Islam to a “radical and dangerous ideology” and for his dismissal of mental health issues faced by attacker 30-year-old Hassan Khalif Shire Ali as “an excuse”.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton also made comments in relation to the Bourke St incident urging Islamic community leaders not to withhold information from police.
“I share the concerns of Muslim leaders who are rightly disturbed by such comments which can be alienating for the whole Muslim community,” said Dr Palmer.
“Islam is a religion that actively promotes peace and we know that Muslim leaders in Australia work very hard to share this peaceful message of Islam and counter any misrepresentations.”
“I encourage Uniting Church members to pray for all those caught up in the tragedy and to continue to work together with all who seek peace in our communities.”