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John Howard Denies Saying Anti-Islamic Things When He Was Prime Minister

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John Howard Denies Saying Anti-Islamic Things When He Was Prime Minister

John Howard has been asked to reflect on his time as Prime Minister when the whole world changed.

He was Australia's leader when the September 11 terror attacks happened in the US back in 2001 and he answered America's call to send troops to the Middle East.

However, during an interview with Triple J's Hack programme, he was also questioned about comments he made about the Islamic community in years following the World Trade Center attacks.

Host Avani Dias revealed Mr Howard described the burqa as 'confronting'; he said Muslim people coming to Australia needed to learn English fast; and added that they need to treat women better to fit in with Australian values.

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Credit: PA
Credit: PA

In response, the former PM said: "Well, I said a lot of things over the time."

But he rejected the idea that anything he said was 'prejudicial' to the Islamic community.

"I didn't make anti-Islamic comments. No I'm sorry, I'm not going to accept that - that is completely false," he said. "I just will not accept for a moment that I encouraged hostility to Muslims in Australia, I went out of my way to do the opposite.

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"If you have a look at what I said, in Parliament [at the time] ... I said that I wanted people to treat Islamic Australians decently, properly, and like everybody else."

"I completely reject the suggestion that I have any kind of hostility to Islamic people."

It's not the first time Mr Howard has been forced to confront things from the past.

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The former Prime Minister appeared on the ABC's Australia Talks programme back in June and was quizzed about Australia's attitudes with race.

He was broached with a statistic that showed roughly 76 per cent of Australians think there is 'a lot of racism' in the country.

Despite this, he said Australia isn't racist and packed up his 2005 opinion that the Cronulla Riots weren't based on race.

"Well, that has not been my experience. I have to respectfully say to that 76 per cent, I don't think there is underlying racism in Australia. I think there are racists in Australia," he said.

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"My view about the Cronulla riots was it was not an example of underlying racism.

"I think that is a supremely pessimistic view of the Australian community and I've seen so many examples of where people of different races have worked together in a seamless fashion for the common good. I think that's a hugely pessimistic view of the Australian community."

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Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Australia

Stewart Perrie
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