Melbourne, Oct. 29 (ANI): An Australian MP and former Immigration Minister, Kevin Andrews, has sparked off a row after suggesting that Australia needs to have a serious discussion about the growth of its Muslim population.
The Australian Greens have slammed the Liberal MP's suggestion as "despicable."
Andrews said the issue of a growing Muslim population was a topic that had to be discussed.
"To have a concentration of one ethnic or one particular group that remains in an enclave for a long period of time is not good. I don't think it's happening as rapidly as with other communities in the past," News.com.au quoted Andrew, as saying.
Greens leader Bob Brown said the comments reflected the racist political agenda of the former One Nation MP, Pauline Hanson.
"(It's) a pretty despicable comment. We are seeing a far right, pretty disgusting point of view."
Opposition frontbencher Greg Hunt distanced himself from fellow partyman's comments.
"Our approach should be colour-blind, ethnicity-blind, background-blind and simply focused on their ability to contribute. I believe in a diverse and multicultural Australia," Hunt said.
Islamic groups criticized Andrews for spreading anti-Muslim sentiments in the country.
"All this does is build up anti-Muslim sentiment and as a consequence people are much less likely to integrate if they feel scared and threatened," Islamic Council of Victoria vice-president Sherene Hassan said.
Andrews defended his calls for a debate, saying that "when a subject becomes politically incorrect to talk about, then it ends up with a backlash".
"You should be able to talk about it ... it's ridiculous if you can't talk about any subject. Whether they were right or wrong is not the point. In a democracy you should be able to discuss them," he said. (ANI)