Canberra, Feb 20 (ANI): The Liberal party of Australia appears to be divided after Tony Abbott rejected Parliamentary Secretary Cory Bernardi's claims that "Islam is the problem, not Muslims".
Bernardi stirred a controversy over his attempts to defend opposition immigration spokesperson Scott Morrison after the later was asked to resign over his concerns about Muslim migration, news.com.au reports.
Bernardi had claimed that: "Islam itself is the problem - it's not Muslims. Muslims are individuals that practise their faith in their own way, but Islam is a totalitarian, political and religious ideology."
Kevin Andrews, the party's spokesman, said that he supported a debate over multiculturalism that balanced diversity with Australian values.
"What people want to see is that anyone here can speak English. That we don't see particular groups entrenched in particular locations. I don't see [Opposition immigration spokesperson Scott Morrison] pursuing an anti-Muslim migration line. He's just reflecting a feeling in the community," he added.
Liberal Victorian senator Mitch Fifield has also said that immigrants should integrate with the Australian community.
"Australians revel in diversity and embrace different cultures, but they expect people who come to Australia to sign up to mainstream values. You have to muck in with the rest of the community and not develop a sort of separate society," Fifield said.
"We need to heed the lessons of the UK where you have whole suburbs which are basically separate entities to the rest of the community. There are some interpretations of Islam which aren't healthy and aren't compatible with Australian values, such as sharia law," he added.
Earlier Abbott had rejected Bernardi's claims saying: "There are Islamic extremists just as there are other extremists that are a problem in a tolerant and pluralistic society. In suggesting that Islam itself is the problem, Cory does not represent my views." (ANI)