From the Sydney Morning Herald: “Govt puts $8m towards Islamic institute”:
The federal government will put $8 million towards establishing a national Institute of Islamic Studies at an Australian university as part of efforts to tackle extremism.
The decision, announced by Andrew Robb, the parliamentary secretary for immigration and multicultural affairs, forms part of the government’s national action plan to promote social cohesion and harmony in Muslim communities and discourage radicalism.
The concept is interesting, but it unfortunately– and predictably– falls flat due to continuing confusion and gullibility on what constitutes “moderate” or “mainstream” Islam in a Western society. In particular, Prime Minister John Howard’s Muslim Advisory Board includes such eminent but questionably “moderate” figures as Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali, an avid proponent of Holocaust denial.
The government outlined the funding details of its national action plan, including measures designed to increase tolerance, boost employment, strengthen national security and help Muslim communities integrate into Australian life.
The Islamic research and training institute, to be established at an existing university which has not yet been decided, is a central plank of the $35 million, four-year action plan and could attract up to 300 students when classes begin in 2007.
“The courses will provide many subjects relevant for those training to be Muslim religious leaders, providing an important vehicle for the teaching of Islam in an Australian context,” Mr Robb said in a statement.
“This will be particularly helpful to young Australian Muslims who want to understand the role of religion in Australia.
“The centre will attract eminent, moderate Islamic scholars from around the world who will provide an authoritative community reference point.”