Islamic law and polygamous marriages will be denounced as forever unacceptable in Australia in a bipartisan parliamentary report that will define what multiculturalism means for our nation, and state there must be only "one law for all".
The report -- the result of a two-year investigation into Australia's multicultural strategy -- is understood to be critical of the limited access migrants have to English language training and the lack of cultural awareness shown by employers and the federal employment recruitment agency.
It is also understood to make the recommendation that a national multicultural research centre be established, funded by the federal government and run independently. The centre's chief role will be to conduct research on how communities are integrating and identify their needs.
The committee believes too much crucial knowledge and information has been lost since John Howard abolished a similar body, known as the Bureau of Immigration, Multicultural and Population Research, leading to a lack of planning around how to integrate newly arrived racial communities.
Coalition MPs are also concerned Labor has been too keen to paint migrants and refugees as "victims" and wants to ensure that they agree only to a pathway of "integration".
The committee was confronted with a range of Islamic views, including a submission from the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, which argued that Muslims should enjoy "legal pluralism".
In an interview, the organisation's president, Ikebal Adam Patel, who wrote the submission, nominated family law and specifically divorce as areas where moderate interpretations of sharia could co-exist within the Australian legal system. The multiculturalism review also received one submission calling for polygamous marriages to be considered.
The committee has come to the view these more radical ideas should be rejected, explaining that a multicultural society would not tolerate them.
The report is understood to discuss the issues Australia is encountering with Muslims and suggests: more work needs to be done to bridge cultural gaps; the promotion of inter-faith and inter-cultural understanding must be encouraged; and work with community leaders, organisations and institutions needs to be continued to foster awareness of the rights, obligations and responsibilities that apply to all in the Australian community.
The committee heard that Australians were comfortable with multiculturalism and racial diversity, but an overwhelming number of people expressed concerns Muslims were not integrating and were coming to Australia to impose their values.
This has not gone down well in some quarters.
MUSLIM groups have criticised the findings of a forthcoming parliamentary report on multiculturalism that denounces Islamic law and polygamous marriages.
Federation of Islamic Councils assistant secretary Keysar Trad said the report's findings, revealed in The Australian's Sunday edition yesterday, showed a "continued misunderstanding" of sharia.
"Sharia is just a term that applies to all religious practices, including being good neighbours and citizens," he said. "We are able to practice everything sharia demands in accordance with Australian law," Mr. Trad, who is known for his defence of polygamy, said the illegality of polygamous marriage would not prevent plural relationships.
"Marriage is traditionally something under God, not a secular system," he said. "People can enjoy all the rights and privileges of a couple without having to be married under Australian law. If people want to be involved in a plural relationship, that's their concern."
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