Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott has upset the Jewish community over his remarks comparing the Islamic State militants to the Nazis but he says he is still standing by what he said.

In an interview on Fairfax radio station 2GB, Abbott, in dismissing suggestions that his government was trying to frighten Australians about Isis, he said: "It's nonsense, turn on your televisions, look at what is happening. The latest atrocity apparently was four young men being strung up and burnt alive."

He went on to say: "The Nazis did terrible evil but they had sufficient sense of shame to try to hide it. These people boast about their evil, this is the extraordinary thing. They act in the way that medieval barbarians acted, only they broadcast it to the world with an effrontery which is hard to credit.".

His comments however drew criticism from various Jewish groups in Australia but Abbott refused to withdraw his comments. "I stand [by] what I said, not by the interpretation that other people might want to put on it.

The prime minister said he was "not in the business of trying to rank evil ... But I do make this point, that unlike previous evil-doers, whether we're talking about Stalin, Hitler or whoever that tried to cover up their evil, this wretched death cult boasts about it."

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry President Robert Goot said that there was a "fundamental difference between organised acts of terrorism and a genocide systematically implemented by a state as essential policy.

"Whilst there is no question that Islamic State is a profoundly evil organisation, the Prime Minister's comments suggesting that it is in some respects worse than the Nazis were injudicious and unfortunate," he said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

"The crimes of Islamic State are indeed horrific, but cannot be compared to the systematic round-up of millions of people and their despatch to purpose-built death camps for mass murder. There is a fundamental difference between organised acts of terrorism and a genocide systematically implemented by a state as essential policy," Goot said.

He added: "Acts of terrorism are necessarily done in the full glare of publicity for their propaganda effect. In contrast, those responsible for ordering and implementing systematic state-sponsored genocide are high government officials who often operate in secret not out of any sense of shame, but to avoid being held criminally responsible for their actions."

Not first time Abbott riles Jewish community

Labour leader Bill Shorten, while declining to make any comparison, said that although he agreed with Abbott in that Isis was "evil", he would not equate it with the Second World War.

Sky News noted that this is the third time that Abbott had upset Jewish Australians over his reference to Nazis.

In March he had to apologise after comparing Shorten to German World War II-era propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels and in February, another apology had to be made after describing a 10% cut in defence jobs under a former Labour government as a "holocaust of jobs."