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Australia Liberals pledge fight vs. radical group

JTA

August 16, 2010 | 10:50 am

Australia’s opposition Liberal Party has vowed to prosecute a Muslim group that is banned in America.

If elected to power in federal elections Aug. 21, Liberal leader Tony Abbott pledged to take action against Hizb-ut Tahrir, which he said is “stirring up hatred against people of the Jewish faith.”

Abbott blasted the group’s “viciously anti-Semitic message” during a pre-election interview in the Herald Sun newspaper.

Hizb-ut Tahrir, a global movement that promotes a single Islamic state and recently held two meetings in Australia, does not deny being anti-Israel, but says that does not equate to being anti-Jewish.

Abbott’s vow comes just days after Foreign Minister Stephen Smith accused deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop of “an immense lack of judgment” after she pledged her party would support Israel in sensitive resolutions at the United Nations.

Although Bishop denied the Liberal Party would unequivocally back Israel at the U.N., she told The Age newspaper, “I make no apology for my strong support of Israel. I think the Rudd-Gillard government weakened Australia’s stance at the United Nations.”

Labor has voted in favor of three anti-Israel resolutions at the U.N. General Assembly during its nearly three-year term in office.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard predicted the election would be a “photo finish,” and the polls appear to support her opinion.

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