Australia Muslim Cleric Hate
(Reuters) - A well-known Australian Muslim cleric has called for the beheading of Dutch anti-Islamic politician Geert Wilders, a newspaper said on Friday.
Wilders' Freedom Party scored the biggest gains in June 9 polls and is currently negotiating to form a new minority government with the Liberals and Christian Democrats. Polls show Wilders would win a new election if one were called now.
Wilders demanded to know why he had learnt about the threat from the newspaper and not from Dutch authorities who are guarding him after a film and remarks he made angered Muslims around the world.
De Telegraaf, the Netherlands' largest newspaper, led its front page on Friday with a story on the speech by Feiz Muhammad.
The Sydney-born Muhammad has gained notoriety for, among other things, calling on young children to be radicalized and blaming rape victims for their own attacks.
The paper posted an English-language audio clip in which he refers to Wilders as "this Satan, this devil, this politician in Holland" and explains that anyone who talks about Islam like Wilders does should be executed by beheading.
De Telegraaf did not say when the speech was given but said it and the Dutch secret service both had copies. According to his website, Muhammad is based in Malaysia.
Wilders told Reuters it was "really terrible news" and that he was taking it seriously.
"I will ask for clarification from the Dutch minister of interior/justice why the secret service and anti-terrorism unit NCTb have not informed me before and what the consequences will be for me," he said in an email.
A spokesman for the Dutch secret service referred inquiries on the threat to the NCTb. A spokeswoman for the NCTb was not available to comment.
Wilders is currently on trial in the Netherlands for inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims.
The Freedom Party leader made a film in 2008 which accused the Koran of inciting violence and mixed images of terrorist attacks with quotations from the Islamic holy book.
Wilders was also charged because of outspoken remarks in the media, such as an opinion piece in a Dutch daily in which he compared Islam to fascism and the Koran to Adolf Hitler's book "Mein Kampf."
Of late he has been in the news for plans to speak out against a planned mosque in New York City on September 11, the ninth anniversary of the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.
But his views have also made him extremely popular with a segment of the country uneasy about the Netherlands' commitment to multiculturalism.
Australian PM raps Muslim cleric over sex rights sermon
January 22, 2009
SYDNEY (AFP) — A Muslim cleric who reportedly said men have a right to force their wives to have sex and to hit them if they are disobedient has been condemned by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
"Under no circumstances is sexual violence permissible or acceptable in Australia," Rudd said after a newspaper reported cleric Samir Abu Hamza's comments in a sermon posted on the Internet.
"I would call upon this Islamic cleric to publicly apologise and repudiate his remarks."
The cleric said in his sermon, entitled "The keys to a successful marriage," that it was a man's right to demand sex from his wife whenever he felt like it, the Daily Telegraph reported.
"If the husband was to ask her for a sexual relationship and she is preparing the bread on the stove, she must leave it and come and respond to her husband, she must respond," Hamza was quoted as saying.
He reportedly scorned Australian laws which make it an offence for a man to force his wife to have sex, saying: "Amazing, how can a person rape his wife?"
Hamza also said Islamic law allowed men to hit their wives as a last resort but they should not bruise them or make them bleed, the paper reported.
Rudd said Australians would not accept any forms of violence against women, adding: "Nor are they acceptable in my view to mainstream Muslim teachings."
The Daily Telegraph said Hamza stood by his sermon, which was delivered in 2003 and posted on the Internet late last year.
However, Hamza said his remarks had been taken out of context, Islamic Council of Victoria state president Ramzi Elsayed told the national AAP news agency.
Islam did not condone violence against women or making a wife have sex with her husband against her will, Elsayed said.
At Hamza's Islamic Information and Service Network of Australasia in Melbourne a staff member said the cleric was on holiday for the next "couple of weeks".
A leading Islamic cleric, Sheikh Taj Aldin al-Hilali, was replaced as Mufti of Australia in 2007 after creating a storm of protest when he described scantily-dressed women as "uncovered meat" inviting rape.
Local Muslim clerics accused
November 21, 2008
Muslim religious leaders in Victoria are condoning rape within marriage, domestic violence, polygamy, welfare fraud and exploitation of women, according to an explosive report on the training of imams.
- Rape and
violence condoned within marriage: report
- Study says Islamic law applied to benefit men
- Mufti of Australia denies claims
Women seeking divorces have also been told by imams that they must leave "with only the clothes on their back" and not seek support or a share of property because they can get welfare payments.
And the report says some imams knowingly perform polygamous marriages, also knowing that the second wife, a de facto under Australian law, can claim Centrelink payments.
The report is based on a study commissioned and funded by the former Howard government and conducted by the Islamic Women's Welfare Council of Victoria.
It was presented yesterday at a National Centre for Excellence in Islamic Studies conference at Melbourne University.
It is the result of extensive community consultation, interviews with police, lawyers, court workers and academics, and meetings with and questions to the Victorian Board of Imams.
The board's role is to provide an Islamic view and religious guidance to the community and represent it to the media. The report claims that the 24-man board ignored or did not directly answer many of the questions.
It says women, community and legal workers and police involved in the consultation were particularly concerned about domestic violence, and suggested that imams aimed to preserve the family at the cost of women.
When cases came to court they were often dropped after family and community elders pressured women to withdraw charges.
The report says some women who were legally separated but not religiously divorced had their husbands enter their houses, demand sexual intercourse and take it by force.
"Workers who have assisted women in this situation said that the advice women received from the imams was that it was "halal" — permitted — because there was a valid "nikah" — marriage," it says.
The report also cites sexual assault allegations connected with under-age marriages.
It says polygamy is steadily increasing and gaining acceptance among Melbourne Muslims, and Shepparton police report many "de facto" relationships that are really polygamous marriages.
"Community workers who have provided support to women whose husbands took another wife religiously said that women blame the availability of Centrelink benefits … since one or the other wife will be claiming it, relieving the husband of the responsibility of supporting two families," the report says.
Community members quoted in the report believe that imams' narrow religious training in an increasingly complex world, lack of life experience, poor English and lack of understanding of Australia create problems for the community. For example, ill-informed comment by imams drew a wedge between the mainstream and Muslim communities.
The report suggests the Muslim community believes many imams are ill-equipped for the role, which involves much higher expectations in Australia than in predominantly Muslim countries, including marriage counselling, pastoral and spiritual care, marriages and divorces.
"They come from their own little village and culture and say this is what Islam is," one woman is quoted saying. "They come from a village where there is no running water and electricity, and they bring their dark ideas into this country."
The secretary of the Board of Imams, Sheikh Fehmi Naji El-Imam, said he could not understand how the council could write such a report and denied the complaints "absolutely".
"They must have heard stories here and there and are writing about them as though they are fact," he said.
Sheikh Fehmi, who is also Mufti of Australia, said no authorised imam would conduct a polygamous marriage, and it was absolutely wrong that women's rights were ignored in marriage or divorce, or that imams ignored domestic violence.
"I haven't heard of any case where the board disregarded a woman or did not try to help her," he said.
Islamic women's council chairwoman Tasneem Chopra said: "We are hoping we can negotiate with the appropriate authorities a better outcome for women, whether through law reform or education.
"This is a crucial, necessary beginning but it is part of a much larger picture."
Jets didn't topple towers:
AUSTRALIA'S most radical Muslim group is promoting the bizarre conspiracy theory that planes did not destroy New York's World Trade Centre.
Instead, the prayer group run by controversial Melbourne cleric Sheik Mohammed Omran suggests the Twin Towers were destroyed by controlled explosions, presumably set off by agents of the US Government.
The radical theory has been given prominence in a newspaper, Mecca News, edited by Sheik Omran and published by his group, the Ahlus Sunnah Wal-Jamaah Association. The paper, which claims a readership of more than 10,000, is distributed around the country.
The story is the second part of a campaign to persuade local Muslims that the 9/11 attacks in 2001 were part of a US-inspired conspiracy. The paper last month promoted the theory that a plane did not crash into the Pentagon in the September 11 attacks and that the story was a major hoax.
In the October edition of Mecca News, published this week, the paper does not deny that planes crashed into New York's Twins Towers, but denies this is what caused them to collapse.
"The problem is that fire has never before caused steel-frame high-rise buildings to collapse, even when the fire was a very energetic one," says the paper, which devotes a page to supporting the conspiracy claims made by a US author, David Ray Griffin.
It asks why a third building, not hit by planes, collapsed next to the Twin Towers when the building had fires on only two of its 47 floors. The article suggests all the buildings were brought down by controlled explosions.
"If explosions had been used to break the steel columns, these columns would have had telltale signs of the impact of these explosions," the newspaper says.
"Virtually all of the steel was quickly removed from the scene, before any forensic examination could be carried out, then sold to scrap dealers and exported to other countries.
"Generally, removing any evidence from the scene of a crime is a federal offence, but in this case the FBI allowed this removal to go ahead."
The article does not explain who might have set off such controlled explosions or why. However, Mecca News has previously implied that the 9/11 attacks were a massive US-inspired conspiracy, so the paper effectively invites readers to conclude that US authorities, not Islamic terrorists, were to blame.
The paper has defiantly pledged to continue its 9/11 conspiracy series next month, despite an angry response to the provocative campaign from moderate Muslims and non-Muslims.
The newspaper last month credited its editor-in-chief, Sheik Omran, with "breaking the ice" by raising questions in Australia about who was responsible for the 9/11 attacks.
The public campaign on the 9/11 conspiracies comes despite calls from John Howard and moderate Muslim officials for Islamic leaders to avoid inflammatory comments on terrorism.
The paper's campaign has sparked a mixed response from readers. "I implore you to keep up this line of questioning - you're the only ones with an ounce of sense," one reader writes to the editor.
But another writes: "I find your comments about 9/11 repulsive and ignorant to our way of life ... You, sir, should be deported to Afghanistan or some sandy desert."
A call to hate and to prayer
Support for holy war is being urged by Muslim preachers spreading their message in Australia, reports Richard Kerbaj, who visited mosques and heard voices shrieking with angst and passion
A VOICE explodes through the speakers at Lakemba's nondescript Haldon Street prayer hall in Sydney's southwest during a Friday qutbah (sermon). About 400 men - Saudis, Indonesians, Somalis and Lebanese among them - are huddled shoulder to shoulder, seated or kneeling on the floor of the hall, above a gym. A few stare blankly ahead, others have their eyes shut and faces cupped with their palms, almost in a trance-like, meditative state.
It's October 21, the middle of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, and Sheik Abdul Salam Mohammed Zoud, who has been living in Australia since the mid-1990s, stands on a platform at the front of the room reading his sermon in Arabic.
"Ramadan is not a month for indolence," he screams through a lapel microphone, drawing on Koranic parables about the importance of annihilating al-adou (the enemy) and stressing the Koranic obligation of jihad (spiritual struggle or holy war) during the month of fasting. His voice can be heard clearly in the car park outside.
"Ramadan is a month for jihad upon oneself and jihad upon the enemy," he says, a time when followers must become more disciplined in adhering to the message of the Koran, and more willing and prepared to topple the enemy of Islam: the West.
Listeners nod approvingly as Zoud praises mujaheddin - guerilla warriors engaged in holy war - who are waging bloody battles against Western troops across the world, and implores Allah to grant them victory in their fight against the enemies of Islam.
"Allah yinsur el-mujaheddin fe-Iraq (God grant victory to the mujaheddin in Iraq)," he screams, his voice crackling as he defies his own vocal range. He then repeats the message three times, each time screaming it louder and with more intensely.
Twice at the end of the 35-minute oration in front of the men, who are mostly in their 30s and 40s, the sheik exclaims in a voice filled with angst and passion, blame and hate: "Inshallah (God willing) dark days will descend upon America soon."
Two Fridays earlier, at a prayer centre at Michael Street in Brunswick, Melbourne's Muslim heartland, the man regarded as Australia's most radical imam, Sheik Mohammed Omran, stands before his mixed band of followers.
Earlier, the men had left their shoes in the corridor and walked into the room. On entering the mussalah, they're greeted by whoever they make eye contact with.
"Assalam alaikum" (peace be with you) is acknowledged by the person being greeted with "Wa-alaikum assalam" (peace be with you too). An A4-sized piece of paper on the wall reminds attendees to switch off their mobile phones.
Some kneel and pray, others grab a copy of the Koran off the bookshelf at the back of the room, and read it quietly.
Off-duty taxi drivers, suited businessmen on their lunch breaks and youngsters wearing baseball caps and tracksuits sit among the traditionally clad listeners wearing dishdashas (gowns) and sporting beards. Several Western converts, with fair hair and blue eyes stare at Omran, listening intently. While the 150 or so men watch the sheik, who stands on an elevated podium, hands gripping a railing, delivering a qutbah, women sit in a room adjacent, listening through a speaker.
In the week following the second Bali attacks, Omran's Friday sermon, conducted in Arabic and English, talks about the fear Westerners have of Ramadan, as history has shown an increase in militant insurgencies and attacks across the world during that month. "The West know the meaning of Ramadan more than we do it seems," says the imam, who migrated from Jordan in the 1980s. "They fear the worst: unity. So what are we doing to unite and defeat evil?"
He says Islamic unity and victory in the face of the West cannot be "stopped by George Bush or Tony Blair or John Howard".
"If you don't unite, your faces will be smeared in dirt," he adds.
Both Zoud's and Omran's prayer groups teach Wahhabism, a fundamentalist branch of Islam founded in Saudi Arabia in the 1700s that inspired the former Taliban regime in Afghanistan and is preached by the world's most notorious terrorist: Osama bin Laden, leader of al-Qa'ida.
Yet the voices of such home-based extremists by no means define the majority of Islamic messages being preached by Muslim clerics across the country.
Sheik Fehmi Naji al-Imam, one of Australia's most prominent Muslim leaders and the head of the Preston Mosque, Victoria's largest mosque in Melbourne's inner-north, isn't discussing politics during a Friday sermon last month. Instead, he is leading a group of more than 50 men through an Arabic prayer from the Koran. On completion, he sits at the front of the room and faces his followers.
A junior cleric then sits beside Naji al-Imam and discusses the importance of praying to God and of not feeling a sense of helplessness or hopelessness should one suspect their personal prayer is not being answered.
The cleric says people are often disappointed when their prayers for more financial wealth don't come to fruition.
"You might pray for thousands of dollars and feel like your prayers aren't being answered," he says in Arabic. "But what you've got to remember is he might have saved you from a car accident and [thus] saved you $10,000."
Zoud has formerly been accused of having links to terror suspects and recruiting for jihad. And although he has denied such accusations, he cannot deny the fact his prayer centre, located in Sydney's Muslim heartland, has attracted terror suspects, including Frenchman Willie Brigitte, arrested and deported to Paris in 2003 for allegedly plotting a bomb attack on Sydney's naval base; and former Qantas baggage handler Bilal Khazal, who is facing terrorism-related charges in Australia.
Friday sermons at the Haldon Street and Michael Street prayer centres are predominantly geared towards political issues affecting Muslims across the world. The US and President George W. Bush figure prominently in Zoud's and Omran's sermons.
"Last night, President Bush said that the so-called fanatic Muslims would like to build an empire reaching from Indonesia to Spain," Omran said during his October 7 sermon. "And he has not said anything as truer or more accurate. What is wrong with doing that? ... What are we doing to achieve that objective?"
Omran's call to action goes even further during a Friday sermon at Michael Street conducted the following week by Harun Abu Talha, news editor of Mecca News, published by the Ahlus Sunnah Wal-Jamaah organisation led by Omran.
During the predominantly English qutbah, the cleric says: "We should not compromise our deen [religion] for the sake of peace." It is a message greeted by collective nods from a group of more than 100 men, many of whom were present at Omran's sermon the previous Friday.
Abu Talha discusses the injustices and human rights violations taking place at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp where "so-called terrorists" are detained.
"They lock up these so-called [Muslim] terrorists in subhuman conditions," he says. "You wouldn't even keep an animal like that." He urges listeners to "raise your voices" against those who "criticise your deen [religion]".
"They criticise and ridicule our religion and have been doing so for a very long time."
While Naji al-Imam's service is purely religious, Abu Talha, who is believed to be Bosnian, discusses "our brothers and sisters" who are dying at the hands of Western troops in Afghanistan and begins to discuss the importance of jihad before quipping: "We cannot say too much about mujaheddin in this country." The joke elicits sniggers and laughter from the group.
Outside Sydney's largest mosque, the Lakemba Mosque in Wangee Road, which is known for its moderate preachings, a man in his late 20s is walking to his car following the Friday prayer. He opens his car boot and grabs a handful of promotional leaflets about Ramadan. Asked about his thoughts on extremist Muslims ruining the image of Islam, he says: "You got all kinds of Muslim here [in Sydney]. But it's always the few extreme ones who ruin it for the majority, brother."
Australia police say Muslim cleric led attack plot
08 Nov 2005
CANBERRA, Nov 8 (Reuters) - An Australian Muslim cleric who said Osama bin Laden was a "great man" has been named by police as the spiritual leader of a group of 16 men charged on Tuesday with planning a terrorist attack in Australia.
Abdul Nacer Benbrika, also known as Abu Bakr, has long been monitored by Australian authorities and grabbed headlines in August after he praised bin Laden, blamed for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
He is a self-styled leader of a fundamentalist Islamic group of young followers in the suburbs of Australia's second-biggest city, Melbourne. Some of these followers, local radio reported, attended militant training camps in Asia.
"Osama Bin Laden, he is a great man," Benbrika, 45, told Australian Broadcasting Corp. (ABC) radio in August.
Following police raids in Sydney and Melbourne on Tuesday, Benbrika was charged with directing the activities of a terrorist organisation and remanded in custody until January.
Benbrika's passport was confiscated in March on advice from the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, which then raided his Melbourne home in June, ABC radio has reported.
But Benbrika, a dual Australian/Algerian citizen who has at least six children and has lived in Melbourne since 1989, denied he was a security threat.
"I am not involved in anything here. I am teaching my brothers here the Koran and the Sunna, and I am trying my best to keep myself, my family, my kids and the Muslims close to this religion," he told the ABC, referring to the holy book and the code of conduct for Muslims.
Benbrika said he opposed anyone trying to harm his religion. He also said it was a "big problem" for Muslims reconciling their religion with life in Australia.
"There are two laws. There is Australian law. There is Islamic law," he said, adding the only law that needed to be spread was Islam.
"Jihad is part of my religion, and what you have to understand that anyone who fights for the sake of Allah ... (with) the first drop of blood that comes from him out, all his sin will be forgiven," he said.
Other Australian Muslim leaders have said Benbrika represented a minority view, and Prime Minister John Howard did not invite Benbrika to a summit of key Muslim leaders in August.
Cleric has been closely watched
(CNN) -- One of the people arrested in anti-terrorism raids Tuesday in Australia is outspoken Muslim cleric Abu Bakr, also known as Abdul Nacer Benbrika.
Bakr has been the subject of intense scrutiny by Australian security and intelligence services for some time, most recently following public comments made in August in support of Al Qaeda mastermind Osama Bin Laden.
"Osama bin Laden, he is a great man," Bakr said then during an interview on Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio.
Australian media also have reported that some of the followers of Bakr's Melbourne-based fundamentalist Islamic group have attended terror training camps in Afghanistan.
According to media reports, Bakr had his passport removed in March by the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) because "he was likely to prejudice the security of Australia or a foreign country" if he traveled overseas.
He also was the subject of two ASIO raids in June, ABC radio reported.
Bakr, 45, is a dual Algerian and Australian citizen who has lived in Melbourne's northern suburbs since 1989.
Melbourne is Australia's second-largest city and is the capital of the southern state of Victoria.
Among the ASIO concerns over Bakr's beliefs are his alleged support for the right of Australians to engage in militant jihad overseas and his adherence to Islamic law over Australian law.
In his ABC radio interview Bakr denied he was a threat, saying he was being targeted because of his strong Islamic views.
"I am not involved in anything here. I am teaching my brothers here the Koran and the Sunna, and I am trying my best to keep myself, my family, my kids and the Muslims close to this religion," he said.
But he also said he could not discourage those who wished to fight overseas "because Jihad is part of my religion," and to do so would betray those beliefs.
"I am telling you that my religion doesn't tolerate other religion. It doesn't tolerate. The only one law which needs to spread, it can be here or anywhere else, has to be Islam," he said.
By Miranda Devine
November 13, 2005
In the wake of last week's counter-terrorism raids, Treasurer Peter Costello declared: "We will never be an Islamic state. We will never observe sharia law . . . We will always be a democracy."
Islamic extremists should leave Australia if they oppose a "secular state with a democratic system and independent courts - and equality for women".
It seemed a reasonable, refreshingly unambiguous statement, echoing the sentiments of most Australians, Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Yet it was condemned as "unjustified, unacceptable and hatred-instigating" by the Lebanese Muslim Association.
How so? It should not instigate hatred to assert that the Australian democratic way of life is preferable to Australians than some form of rule alien to our culture and values.
But the reaction of the Lebanese Muslim Association reflects a worrying mindset, a sense of grievance and entitlement influenced by a hard-core generation of fundamentalist Muslim preachers, some of whom are associated with a number of the 18 men arrested last week.
Their aim is to enforce a fundamentalist line incompatible with Australian life. Some, like Sheik Faiz Mohamad of the Global Islamic Youth Centre in Liverpool, have preached that women who are raped are at fault if they dress immodestly. "A victim of rape every minute somewhere in the world. Why? No one to blame but herself," he told more than 1000 people at the Bankstown Town Hall in April.
Others, like the firebrand American preacher Khalid Yasin, who visits Australia regularly, warn about associating with non-Muslims - "there's no such thing as a Muslim having a non-Muslim friend". Yasin has declared homosexuality punishable by death and described suicide bombing as understandable "in the context of perpetuated protracted oppression" of Muslims.
The fundamentalists are marginalised by established Muslim leaders but appear to have a following among young radicalised Australian-born Muslims.
One western-Sydney group, Hizb ut-Tahrir (party of liberation), which has been described as a "conveyor belt for terrorists" and is banned in some countries, preaches a vision of a pan-Islamic state under sharia law.
The group has twice been invited to speak at Sydney Boys High in the past three years, according to ABC TV's 7.30 Report.
In August, Hizb ut-Tahrir organiser Soadad Doureihi gave a lecture at Sydney University during Islamic Awareness Week.
It was entitled "Combating Terror" but the "terror" was not of the al-Qaeda variety; it was the state-sponsored "terrorism" of Western colonialists through the ages.
I have heard a tape of the lecture in which Doureihi claims Australian Muslims are being forced to assimilate, as part of the "war against Islam".
"We do not have to adopt beliefs, ideals and sentiments of a society. We are not and cannot be forced to adopt a different belief or value system . . . It is the battle of ideas, the battle of hearts and minds of the people: this is what this war is all about."
He described Australia as a racist society whose people, "expect not to pay a price for what they do".
He cheered the "Islamic revival you see among the youth . . . They are educated [and] hold our Islam identity very dear. Yet we want to propagate it to other people, other cultures [and] we are refused or denied . . . through an opponent who doesn't want to engage in discussion [but uses] the bully tactic of 'shut up, I'll put you in jail, I'll raid your house, I'll intimidate you even further'."
He spoke of ancient grievances, of Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya and Bosnia. Western nations "light a fire in Muslim lands and stand back and hope no spark lands on their shores . . . Millions of people have been slaughtered at the hands of Britain, Europe, America, yet 56 or 57, 58 people in London saw what this meant. [Then] we saw the world stand up and say this is an attack on Western values but the reality is . . . there is an injustice. You cannot hope to create so much chaos and anarchy in lands [and think] no price will ever have to be paid by society."
Noam Chomsky couldn't have put it better. This poisoning of young minds, the sense of historic victimhood and alienation, is daily fuelled by the self-loathing cultural relativists of the Western intellectual establishment. The only obvious antidote is to embrace the vast bulk of moderate Muslims, and to speak plainly to the rest, as Costello has.
Australia To Track Muslim Clerics
SYDNEY, Australia, Dec. 27, 2005
clerics in Australia will be required to register and adhere to a code of
conduct, a council of moderate Muslims announced Tuesday, amid efforts to rein
in radical preachers following the London bombings.
The Muslim Advisory Council, which comprises 14 Islamic community leaders hand-picked by Prime Minister John Howard to help authorities counter the rise of Islamic extremism, will meet next month to discuss drafting the imams' code, council member Yasser Soliman said.
"We're trying to put together some sort of guidelines about who can become a cleric," Soliman told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio. "The guidelines are in response to suggestions by the community and clerics ... there are people who are appointing themselves as clerics when they're really just backyard clerics and unqualified."
Radical Muslim cleric Sheik Mohammed Omran who has preached that al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is a great man who played no part in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in the United States reacted angrily to the council's move.
"They don't have authority; they don't have the power; they don't have any license to talk about that (registering clerics)," Omran told The Australian newspaper in an interview published Tuesday.
Soliman agreed the council had no power to enforce the code of conduct or force clerics to register, but he predicted that only five or six clerics would refuse to register.
"They'll be identified as not plugging into the mainstream and not representing the community," Soliman said. "At this stage, there's a big fog about where they fit in."
Soliman said the guidelines will be helpful for clerics from overseas.
"Clerics coming from overseas especially would benefit from understanding the politics of the country, the political system, the language if they're not very fluent in English," Soliman said. "It's important that any gaps be identified. It's not something that should come across as being an insult."
Howard established the Muslim Advisory Council after the July 7 London bombings killed 52 people, highlighting the risk of homegrown terrorists in Britain.
The prime minister has criticized Australia's Islamic leaders for failing to speak out against radical preachers.
But Howard in turn has come under criticism for excluding radical Muslims from his council and for failing to acknowledge the role that Australia's involvement in the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq has in radicalizing young Muslims.
Australian authorities launched their largest ever counterterrorism crackdown on Nov. 8, arresting 18 Muslims in coordinated pre-dawn raids in Melbourne and Sydney in an operation police said headed off a catastrophic terror attack, possibly targeting a nuclear reactor in southern Sydney.
Imams 'condone domestic violence'
January 30, 2006
The Australian's phone calls to the federation yesterday were not returned.
Natalie O'Brien and Tracy Ong
September 18, 2006
Singapore-based terrorism analyst Rohan Gunaratna told The Australian that despite their denials and stronger terror laws, religious leaders in the two cities continued to preach violence to impressionable followers, though they now did it away from their mainstream teachings. He said the clerics' influence on young believers increased the risk of a terrorist attack in Australia. "We have seen a number of Australian clerics preaching jihad and martyrdom," Dr Gunaratna said.
"The most likely form of attack in Australia is a suicide attack for jihad. You will need to make arrests in time."
Clive Williams, who runs a terrorism and counter-terrorism program at the Australian Defence Force Academy, said young Muslims were being recruited for jihad through "Koran classes". "They are doing it differently now," he said.
Sheik Omran said terrorism experts made their living from the counter-terrorism industry and it was in their interests to keep the threat going.
Muslim Community Service of Western Australia chairman Sheik Mahmoud Omran said if anybody had evidence they should put up or shut up.
The claims came as the inaugural Conference of Australian Imams wound up in Sydney yesterday. About 100 Muslim leaders attended the two-day conference, which was hosted by the federal Government's Muslim Reference Group.
Parliamentary Secretary on Immigration and Multicultural Affairs Andrew Robb told the conference that imams could play a significant role in minimising the opportunities for extremists to influence vulnerable youth, by speaking English.
"It seems to me that they must be preaching in English if the young people in their communities can understand Islam in an Australian context," he said.
A communique issued at the end of the conference said the imams condemned all forms of terrorism, hatred and extremism in the past and would continue to do so.
It was also agreed that religious leaders should have effective communication skills, including tuition in English with the aim of having sermons delivered entirely in English.
They called for religious leaders to get a broader knowledge of Australian society, culture, the legal system and politics and for the training of a new generation of Australian-born imams.
The group also revealed plans to establish a national centre for excellence in Islamic studies that would be open both to Muslim and non-Muslim students, and a national board of the Islamic religion and community to deal with religious issues that could represent the communities at a national level.
October 29, 2006
ASIO warned authorities 20 years ago that Sheik Taj al-Din Al-hilaly could inflame communal violence in Australia.
Court judgments show ASIO initially believed the controversial mufti posed a risk to the community because of his alleged propensity to cause or promote violence.
Shortly after his arrival in Australia as the new imam of Lakemba Mosque in 1982, Sheik Hilaly was also linked with a shadowy terrorist group, Soldiers of God, which is thought to have been involved in the assassination of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat in 1981.
A group of the same name, also known as Ansar al Islam, is among those listed by the Federal Government as a banned terrorist organisation.
Western governments believe Ansar al Islam has close ideological and operational links with al-Qaeda.
Sheik Hilaly was also alleged to have endorsed suicide bombing, verbally attacked women and preached a highly political message of extremism.
The Sunday Telegraph columnist Piers Akerman writes today that a former intelligence officer said Sheik Hilaly's name first surfaced in a report by one of Australia's most senior intelligence assets in Cairo. The claimed the sheik spent a number of years training in Libya and was sent to Australia to train extremists.
Akerman writes the report was shelved and the agent who sent it believes that a campaign was waged against its contents.
The pressure on Sheik Hilaly grew yesterday, with Parliamentary Secretary for Multicultural Affairs Andrew Robb saying it was time for him to heed the wishes of moderate Muslims and resign.
He also questioned the sincerity of his apology for comments comparing women to uncovered meat and blaming them for rape.
"The body language of the apology was totally unconvincing," Mr Robb said.
"He's condoned violence against women and snubbed his nose at ... every section of the community."
Muslim cleric urges children to be martyrs
Australian calls Jews pigs, sparks controversy with his 'Death Series' DVDs
Jan 19, 2007
SYDNEY, Australia - An Australian Muslim cleric has urged children to be martyrs for Islam and referred to Jews as pigs in a series of DVDs, sparking condemnation by the government and further straining tensions with the nation’s Muslims.
Sheik Feiz Mohammed, head of the Global Islamic Youth Center in Sydney’s western suburbs, is the second cleric to inflame anti-Muslim sentiment in Australia with controversial comments.
Sheikh Taj El-Din Hilaly, the imam of Australia’s biggest mosque, was accused of justifying rape in November after a Ramadan sermon in which he said unveiled women were like uncovered meat.
Australian media said Feiz has lived in Lebanon for the past year and that his “Death Series” DVDs were made public by a British documentary this week called “Undercover Mosque”.
“We want to have children and offer them as soldiers defending Islam,” said Feiz in the video, reported Sydney’s Daily Telegraph newspaper.
“Teach them this: There is nothing more beloved to me than wanting to die as a mujahid. Put in their soft, tender hearts the zeal of jihad and a love of martyrdom,” he said.
The paper also said Feiz had insulted Jews, referring to them as pigs.
Feiz has a series of video clips on www.youtube.com in which he also calls for jihad and praises martyrdom.
The Australian government and ethnic leaders, including Muslims, condemned Feiz’s comments on Thursday.
“The importation of hatred into Australia is totally unacceptable,” acting Attorney-General Kevin Andrews told reporters. “These remarks and the others before them are condemned by the government.”
'Hate speech' condemned
Australia’s ethnic leaders called for Feiz to face possible racial hatred charged for his speeches, which were published in part by Australian newspapers on Thursday.
“Hate speech such as these remarks by Sheik Mohammed has no place in Australian society and must be vigorously condemned by all,” said Vic Alhadeff, chief executive of Jewish Board of Deputies in the state of New South Wales.
Community Relations Commission chairman Stepan Kerkyasharian called for the sheik to face possible race hate charges.
“The federal prosecutor should really have a close look at what is being conveyed by this guy and whether it is in breach of any laws and he should be charged,” Kerkyasharian told radio.
Islamic Friendship Association spokesman Kaysar Trad said the comments did not reflect the sentiments of Australian Muslims.
“As a community, it is quite disconcerting for us that these comments are found from time to time and they’re broadcast all over the news,” said Trad. “They certainly give the public an erroneous impression about Islam and Muslims.”
Last week Hilaly, who left Australia for the Middle East after his controversial remarks, told Egyptian television that white Australians were liars and that Muslims were more entitled to be in Australia than those with a convict heritage.
have been in Australia for more than 200 years, initially arriving as
camel drivers to help open up the vast outback. Today there are about
280,000 Muslims in the 20 million population, living predominately in
Sydney and Melbourne.
“We have had repeated remarks made by the most senior Islamic cleric in Australia. We have these latest remarks. There is this pattern of behavior which is very concerning to the government,” said Andrews.
March 19, 2007
A senior Muslim cleric who works for the tax office in Canberra is under investigation over allegations of tax avoidance.
Palestinian-born imam Mohammad Swaiti has been accused by senior Muslim leaders of failing to pay income tax on thousands of dollars he allegedly received from the Saudi government, The Australian reported.
Documents obtained by the newspaper show the Australian Tax Office (ATO) is investigating allegations that Sheik Swaiti failed to declare his clerical allowance of up to $37,700 a year, paid to him by the Saudi government.
An ACT Islamic association has also accused the sheik of holding radical views, the paper said.
The claims follow in the wake of a report last week which revealed hardline clerics were encouraging Muslims not to pay tax because it was contrary to sharia law, the paper said.
Sheik Swaiti refused to comment on the investigation or the accusations.
"God is watching but let them do what they want," he told The Australian in Arabic.
"Even if they accuse me of murder, I will not comment. You should not take any rubbish from anyone."
The ATO would not comment on the investigation.
Tarique on Sun, 2007-03-25
Muslim World News
Sydney, March 25 (DPA) A Muslim cleric who whipped up a storm last year when he told his Sydney flock that women who don't wear the veil invite rape has been endorsed as the supreme leader of Australia's 300,000 Muslims.
Clerics from around the country meeting in Sydney decided Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali, 67, should keep the post of Mufti of Australia that he has held since 1988.
Prime Minister John Howard last year urged Muslims to dump al- Hilali, as did New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma.
Earlier this year al-Hilali raised the ire of Australians when he said Muslim migrants had a greater entitlement to the country than those who arrived at the time of colonial settlement.
"We came as free people, we bought our own tickets, we are entitled to Australia more than they are," al-Hilali told a television station in his native Egypt.
Howard called on Muslims to show a willingness to join the mainstream by ditching their controversial leader.
Al-Hilali, an Australian citizen, has been censured before for his extremist views and each time the Muslim community has closed ranks behind him.
He made international headlines when he told the congregation at Sydney's largest mosque that a woman in revealing clothes was herself to blame for sexual assault "because if she hadn't left the meat uncovered the cat wouldn't have snatched it."
After the remarks, 34 Muslim community organizations signed a petition urging al-Hilali to defy calls for him to stand down.
Al-Hilali has denied the Holocaust, defended suicide bombers, described as "God's work against oppressors" the 2001 terrorist attacks in the US, and blamed Jews for "all the wars and problems that threaten the peace and stability of all the world."
Speaking after the cat comments, Treasurer Peter Costello, deputy leader of the ruling Liberal Party, demanded that Muslims respond to public outrage and denounce al-Hilali.
"You go right through the decade, the sheik has been anti-Semitic, he has supported jihadists, he has made statements that are absolutely offensive to women, such as the 'uncovered meat' one - it wasn't just that he had a bad day last September," Costello said.
The show of support for al-Hilali is likely to draw further demands that Australian Muslims reaffirm their commitment to democracy, freedom of religion and the rule of law.
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