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  • Peter Francis Fenwick

A Caliphate is not the Answer

At the Hizb ut-Tahrir conference in Sydney on 1 November 2015 speakers complained of the oppressive campaign of forced assimilation being waged against them by our government, evidenced by the requirement to sing the national anthem and pledge support for democratic values in the citizenship oath.

Hizb ut-Tahrir is an Islamic political party whose professed aim is to create a caliphate where all Muslims can live under sharia law. They believe that society should be governed by the rule of god not the rule of man, and are therefore opposed to democracy.

I have no issue with their holding this belief provided that they do not use force to impose it on others. I believe that citizens should achieve their desires through rational persuasion and never through violence, coercion or political influence.

Australians live in one of the freest and most prosperous societies in the history of mankind. This has not happened by chance. It is due to the institutions we inherited from Britain: the rule of law; the principle of private property; a free enterprise economy; a culture that accepts a wide range of human rights and so on. Our freedoms and prosperity are also enhanced by living in a democratic society where all men and women are equal before the law and have an equal opportunity to contribute.

Elsewhere in the world, where these values are not the norm, people are oppressed and live in poverty. Their societies lack compassion and civility. There is no creative drive to improve their spiritual, cultural and economic well-being. There are no opportunities for young people to learn, to grow and to develop their talents to the full.

Ours is a secular, pluralistic society that embraces people of diverse cultures and religious backgrounds. To be a citizen in our society requires adherence to our core values. For this to work requires tolerance. Many differences can be accommodated within our democratic framework. But we cannot accept that some citizens are outside the law; that they have laws of their own.

If our friends in Hizb ut-Tahrir wish to live under a caliphate, and to live under sharia law, then they will have to do it elsewhere. Such a society cannot be accommodated in democratic Australia.

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