The holy month of Ramadan begins this week. I take this opportunity to extend my best wishes to Muslims in Australia and around the world.
Ramadan is a time of prayer and reflection for Muslims. It is also a time of intense devotion; of spiritual renewal; of joy and celebration; and a time of thanks. It is an opportunity for families and communities to come together to support those in need, and to promote goodwill and harmony in the wider world.
Australia is home to nearly half a million Muslims and Islam is our country's third most observed religion. During Ramadan this year, the thoughts and prayers of many Australian Muslims will be with their brothers and sisters, families and friends throughout the world who face uncertainty and unrest.
Islamic values such as selflessness, charity, compassion and justice are values all Australians share. They are universal.
Australians are proud of our record in promoting the 'overlap of cultures'. It is an ideal to which I am deeply committed. Having travelled to many parts of the Muslim world, I am encouraged by the spirit of tolerance that has enabled many nations and communities so successfully to manage their religious and cultural differences.
Ramadan provides an opportunity to reflect on how we all can best achieve tolerance, communal wellbeing and mutual respect.
To Muslims everywhere I say: 'Ramadan Kareem'.
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