The holy month of Ramadan begins this week and I extend my best wishes to Muslims in Australia and around the world. Ramadan Kareem.
Ramadan is a time of prayer and reflection for Muslims. It's a time to reflect on the wisdom and guidance that for many people comes with faith. It is also an opportunity for families and friends to come together, and to promote goodwill and harmony in the wider community.
Australia is home to nearly half a million Muslims and Islam is our country's fourth largest religion. The Australian Muslim community is diverse and is drawn from over 60 different ethnic backgrounds. Each contributes to modern Australian society and serves to underpin our engagement with the Muslim world.
The Australian Government is actively engaging Muslim communities around the world and promoting interfaith and intercultural dialogue with many of Australia's close and important partners, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Gulf States and Egypt.
In my first speech to the Australian Parliament on March 21, I spoke about the importance of fostering the 'overlap of cultures' and encouraging racial and religious tolerance. I will continue to promote these values as Australia's Foreign Minister.
Muslim Australians make a large and growing contribution to Australian society. As you welcome the beginning of Ramadan this week, I extend my best wishes to Muslims everywhere. Ramadan Mubarak.
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