PM urges Muslims to back Team Oz

Andrew Tillett

Moderate Muslims should join "Team Australia" to combat the homegrown threat of Islamic extremism, Tony Abbott has urged.

Continuing his focus on national security, the Prime Minister met about 20 key Muslim community leaders in Western Sydney yesterday over growing concerns about the risk posed by 150 Australian citizens returning home after fighting in Iraq and Syria with the Islamic State terror group.

The Government wants to beef up anti-terror laws to allow police and security agencies to detain, question and prosecute Australians involved in overseas terror activities, but some Islamic leaders, including the National Imams Council, have criticised the move as unfairly targeting Muslims.

Mr Abbott said Australians fighting with Middle East terror groups posed a risk if they returned home because they would be "radicalised, militarised and brutalised by the experience".

"We do have to be vigilant against it and my position is that everyone has got to be on 'Team Australia'," he told Sydney radio.

Islamic Friendship Association head Keysar Trad said the meeting with Mr Abbott had been positive.

However, concerns remained over the anti-terror laws, with Mr Trad singling out plans to make people returning from hotspots such as Iraq, Syria and Libya prove they were not terrorists.

"The aspect of reserving the onus of proof to the presumption of guilt, this is something that should be unacceptable to all freedom-loving people regardless of whether they are Muslim or otherwise," Mr Trad said.

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen, who represents one of Australia's most ethnically diverse seats, said dialogue with multicultural communities was welcome.

The Prime Minister will meet Muslim leaders in Melbourne today for more talks on the anti-terror laws.