Australia: Challenging foreign Islamist influences
24 Jan, 2007
- There has been much consternation as yet another Australian Muslim leader, Sheikh Feiz Mohammed, was revealed as a fanatic, encouraging parents to raise their children in armed jihad.
- The Australian reports that three universities - New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria - will be working together to form a new Islamic training institution. This institution, the National Center of Excellence for Islamic Studies, is costing $8 million Australian ($ million).
- There has been much consternation in Australia over the past week, as yet another Australian Muslim leader, Sheikh Feiz Mohammed, was revealed as a fanatic, encouraging parents to raise their children in armed jihad. DVDs in which the Lebanese-origin and Sydney born imam had made these claims, called the "Death Series" have been found on sale in Australia. Feiz himself had fled Australia in November 2005, shortly after the arrests of suspected Muslim terrorists in Sydney and Melbourne. Feiz had known some of these accused individuals, and said that he had returned to Lebanon to look after his sick father.
Copies of Feiz' videos were seized by police. Other comments on the DVDs claimed that Jews were pigs. The premier of New South Wales state, Morris Iemma, claimed that Feiz' statements were "more than vilification". Iemma said: "The sort of incitement that the DVD encourages is incitement to acts of violence and acts of terror." Feiz said from his refuge in Lebanon that his words on the DVDs had been "misinterpreted".
Earlier this month, the controversial "Australian Mufti", Sheikh Taj al-Din al-Hilaly was in Egypt, where he once again made comments which created controversy. He had said in September that women who do not wear Muslim coverings were opening themselves up to rape. He claimed that uncovered women were like uncovered meat left out for cats. In Arabic, he had told a congregation in Australia "Who can blame the cats?"
In Egypt, Hilaly said on a TV station on Tuesday, January 17 that Muslims had more right to live in Australia than non-Muslims, whom he described as "convicts" and liars. He said: "Anglo-Saxons came to Australia in chains, while we paid our way and came in freedom. We are more Australian than them."
Australia's foreign minister, Alexander Downey, said: "I think these kinds of comments just continue to undermine his credibility and his status in the Australian Muslim community. I think it just reinforces a bit of a perception that he's not someone to be taken seriously."
The premier, John Howard, made light of the comments by the "Mufti". He said: "I think it will bring a wry smile to the face of Australians who don't actually feel the least bit offended that many of our ancestors came here as convicts. It's almost a badge of honour for many Australians."
Howard later claimed that Australian Muslim should denounce the Mufti's attitudes. He said: "I think the community has got to show a bit of generic leadership, he is an embarrassment to Islamic Australians. I worry about the damage his behaviour is doing to the image of Islamic Australians within our broader community, I don't want them to be hurt by him but they alone have it in their hands to stop that happening."
As well as describing white Australians as "the biggest liars", Hilaly claimed that the furore that had greeted his comments about rape victims and uncovered meat was "a calculated conspiracy" which was whipped up "in order to bring the Islamic community to its knees."
Even Keysar Trad, the main apologist and supporter for the Mufti, apologized for Hilali's comments. Peter Costello, the Australian treasurer was less forgiving, noting the Mufti's comments over the past decade. Hilali has praised the 9/11 bombers and blamed Jews for "all the wars and problems that threaten the peace and stability of all the world."
Costello said: "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."
65-year old Sheikh Hilaly is Egyptian born, but was for years a Lebanese. He is the imam at the Lakemba mosque in Sydney, where he has a mostly Lebanese congregation.
Hilali has made further controversy by offering to stand in the state election in NSW. He made the claims last week on Arabic Radio from Egypt. Morris Iemma, the Labour premier of New South Wales state has urged Hilali to stand against him in the upcoming elections, due to take place on March 24.
The Muslim feminist Shakira Hussein has commented that anyone standing on an Islamic ticket in the elections, where Muslims comprise only 16% of the NSW electorate will distract from the real issues of governance. She claims that Hilali has no relevance for Australian Muslims of Turkish, Indian or Bosnian extraction. She also suggests that a Muslim-issue-only candidate would actually create more distrust of Muslims.
The new National Center of Excellence for Islamic Studies is not without its own potential pitfalls. Its stated aim is to create home-grown Australian imams, rather than relying upon imported Muslims with imported ideologies. The issues of the Saudi-educated Feiz Mohammed and Hilali have touched nerves, but they are not the only Muslim clerics who have attracted attention.
Sheikh Mohammed Jamal Omran has a prayer center in Brunswick, Melbourne, Victoria. He has preached radicalism, and has supported Hilali's rape comments. He has condemned Muslim girls who enter beauty contests. He believes Osama bin Laden to be a "good man". Omran blamed John Howard's government for fueling radical Islam.
Other foreign preachers with alien outlooks include "Abu Hamza", aka Samir Mohtadi (pictured left), a Lebanese who also has a friendship with Sheikh Omran. Mohtadi has a congregation in Coburg, Melbourne. He has openly denounced the Bible as "If there's one book that should be banned, it is the Bible. So I would not allow my sons or my daughters or my friends or my enemies to read that Bible. I am too embarrassed to read some of the things in the Bible." A Salafist, Mohtadi has challenged George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney and Catholic Cardinal to a "debate" on the comparative merits of the Bible and Quran.
Mohtadi could be dismissed as a freak, but he has been an associate of another imported cleric, the Algerian Salafist Abu Nacer Benbrika, who was among the individuals arrested on terrorism charges on November 8, 2005. Disturbingly, Mohtadi knew that there were rumors that Benbrika was planning terror attacks, but after talking to the cleric, Mohtadi let the issue drop.
The new head of the National Center of Excellence for Islamic Studies will be a Muslim who was educated at the Islamic University of Medina, Saudi Arabia. This man, Abdullah Saeed (pictured top right) was announced today as the new head.
Saeed claims to be a moderate, in spite of the strict Salafism taught at his university. He claimed: "Many people say anyone who comes from the Islamic University must be a fairly conservative figure, but my writings wouldn't show that. My (later) training in Australia at Melbourne University, I guess, provided me with the necessary tools to move to the position I am in in Islamic studies."
Earlier, the parliamentary secretary for multicultural affairs, Andrew Robb, said the center should encourage moderate Islam in Australia. He said: "An advisory body with Muslims on it, probably with other denominations on it and with some Government representation will satisfy everyone in the community that this centre is making a constructive contribution to the sensible practise of Islam in Australia."
Laurie Ferguson, the multicultural affairs spokesman for Labor, said: "Let's try and find somebody who's got broad knowledge, who's respected by all mainstream aspects of Islam, let's find somebody who's got academic credentials, who is respected and can be a force for uniting people rather than a force for division."
Whether Saeed really will inspire Muslim youth in Australia to go to him for teaching and training remains to be seen. He claims to be a moderate, but the Islamic training in Saudi Arabia is not moderate, but Islamofascistic in nature.
What is clear is that Australia seems not to care about excluding from its shores Islamists who are known to promote dissent and who support jihad and terrorism. The extremist group Hizb ut-Tahrir has been in existence in Australia for some time. The group is against democracy, and supports attacks against Israeli civilians. It is banned throughout the Middle East and in Central Asia, Russia, Pakistan, the Netherlands and Germany. In the fall of 2005, the Australian Attorney General decided not to ban Hizb ut-Tahrir in Australia, despite their divisive influences in Australia.
On January 11 it was announced that a meeting by Hizb ut-Tahrir, which was planned to take place on January 27 at Bankstown Town Hall in Sydney, had been cancelled. Tanya Mihailuk, the Bankstown mayor said: "The promotional material was shocking. It showed daggers with blood put through the state of Israel. It would have certainly breached our conditions of hire in that it would incite racial vilification and violence."
Now, according to the Australian Daily Telegraph, the Hizb ut-Tahrir have managed to book a small hall in Canterbury Road in Lakemba, where it will hold its conference. The guest speaker is Mohammed Ismail Yusanto (right).
Yusanto is the head of Indonesian Hizb ut-Tahrir, and his track record is one of fomenting trouble and reaching anti-Western hatred. In November last year, Yusanto led protests against the visit to Bogor, Indonesia by President George W. Bush.
Yusanto has said that in Indonesia Hizb ut-Tahrir has 100,000 members, with chapters in every province. After the fall of the dictator Suharto, who had kept Islamists under control, Hizb operated openly in Indonesia. He supports sharia law, and openly condemns moderate forms of Islam as preached in Indonesia. Like all Hizb Islamists, he wants sharia introduced.
If Australia really wants a "moderate" form of Islam to flourish in Australia, one of the first things it should do is to ban Islamists such as Mohammed Ismail Yusanto from being allowed to enter the country and preach dissent and revolution.
Adrian Morgan is a
British based writer and artist who has written for
Western Resistance since its inception. He also writes for
Family Security Matters and