MEMBERS STATEMENT | CHRISTCHURCH MOSQUES TERRORIST ATTACK

Mr Melhem (Western Metropolitan): I also rise to offer my condolences to the family and friends of the 50 slain New Zealanders. The only crime they committed was being Muslim. They went to Friday prayers, or as they call it in Arabic, salat al-jumuah; they went to a peaceful place. They did not expect to be slaughtered by a coward, by a terrorist who used a white supremacist agenda to basically attack these innocent and defenceless people. Watching a television program last night, I learned that some women and children were lucky they were in the first room. He did not know they were there. I am sure they would have been the first victims. I stand shoulder to shoulder with my New Zealand family and with our Muslim brothers and sisters in New Zealand, in Australia and around the world. I have got to say, and I do not care what the justification is, no human being is entitled to take another human life. I do not care what the reason is, nor the justification. Now, a senator from Queensland—and I will not mention his name—is another coward. He tried to give a justification for the actions of the unfortunate person who calls himself an Australian as to why he committed the crimes he committed. He forgot one thing: just because these people were Muslim does not mean we should be holding them accountable for the acts of few. About 0.001 per cent of Muslims around the world—let us call it what it is, ISIS, as we know it today—have committed atrocities against people of other religions, not just Christians. In fact these extremists have killed far more Muslims than Christians or those of any other religion around the world. The stats speak for themselves. I am proud to stand here and join other speakers and leaders from around the country and around the world. Going back to the previous speaker’s comment about the New Zealand Prime Minister—that some are a bit jealous that we do not have her as an Australian politician—I am very proud of the leadership she has provided for her country. I am a bit jealous. They have got a great leader. That is what we need in this country—leadership. We need someone to basically say, ‘We will stand shoulder to shoulder with our Muslim friends’. I do not care which religion you come from—I come from a Christian background—I love Muslims, I love Jews, I love Hindus. If anyone believes in God and believes in peace, then they stand for something good. Even people who do not believe in anything can have good values—human values. That is what I stand for, and I stand with people who have decent human values. I just want to read a quote. It has been running on social media as well. I quote from Kahlil Gibran, the author of the 1923 book The Prophet. He wrote: I love you when you bow in your mosque, kneel in your temple, pray in your church. For you and I are sons of one religion, and it is the spirit. It is so true. I conclude by saying to that horrible, horrible person who committed these acts of violence against Muslim communities, who sought to destroy the multiculturalism and diversity in our society—something that is very important to us in Victoria—that we cannot let ourselves be divided by fear and hate. I want to say that we stand with the people of Christchurch, members of the Muslim community and everyone affected by these terrible events. I say, finally, Allah yarhamha, which in English is ‘May they rest in peace’.