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Australia Outlines Tough New Measures Against Islamic State

Australia’s prime minister warned Thursday against fomenting distrust of Muslims as he outlined tougher measures against supporters of the Islamic State movement.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Australian laws will soon be amended to give Australian F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet pilots the same legal standing as their coalition partners when conducting airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria.

The Australian legal definition of combatants will be expanded to include people supporting armed fighters and will become consistent with international norms.

Turnbull, who is resisting pressure from lawmakers to ban Muslim immigration and relax hate speech prohibitions, described the Islamic State group as the most pressing national security threat that Australians face.

But he also warned there had been an increase in far-right extremism directed against Muslims in Australia. The latest alleged militant plot disrupted by police led to the arrest of an anti-immigration campaigner who was charged last month with preparing a terrorist attack in the city of Melbourne.

“We cannot be effective if we are creating division, whether by fomenting distrust within the Muslim community or inciting fear of Muslims in broader society,” Turnbull told Parliament.

“Division begets division. It makes violence more likely, not less,” he said.

The government plans to introduce legislation to Parliament this month that would enable courts to keep prisoners convicted of terrorist offenses behind bars for indefinite periods.

Legislation is to be introduced in November that will create a new offense of “advocating genocide.” The crime will enable police to make an earlier arrest when someone is radicalizing others.

Read more at VOA News

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