Australian Prime Minister John Howard on Monday defended remarks he made to a national newspaper describing some segments of the Islamic community as "utterly antagonistic" to Australian society.
In an interview with The Australian newspaper published Monday, Howard decried the "extreme attitudes" held by some segments of the Islamic community, and said some Muslim immigrants had not integrated into Australian society as well as previous waves of European migrants.
"I stand by those comments that there is a small section of the Islamic population in Australia that, because of its remarks about jihad, remarks which indicate an extremist view, that is a problem," Howard told reporters in Sydney.
"It is not a problem that we have ever faced with other immigrant communities who become easily absorbed by Australia's mainstream," he added. Howard also expressed concern about Muslim attitudes toward women.
Ameer Ali, the head of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, acknowledged there are some pockets of conservatism within Australia's Islamic community, but said he was confident those views would soften in time.