CANBERRA: A fake letter linking Muslim extremists to Australia's opposition Labor Party and blamed on conservative supporters yesterday entangled Prime Minister Howard in a damaging row two days before a national election.
The flyer, purporting to come from a non-existent Islamic Australia Federation, was dropped in letterboxes in a key Sydney seat and painted Labor as sympathizers of three men on death row in Indonesia over bombings in the tourist island of Bali in 2002.
Howard's Liberal Party said it had suspended two unidentified members over the hoax. Both parties referred it to Australia's electoral commission. "I condemn it, I dissociate myself from it. It is no part of my campaign and the party has acted promptly to deal with it," Howard told local radio.
The furore follows controversy about small numbers of Islamic extremists in Australia's Muslim community. Far right politician Pauline Hanson, who a decade ago called for an Asian immigration ban, is campaigning this time for a freeze on Muslim migrants.
Source: China Daily/Agencies