THE country’s highest-profile Islamic leader has called for the deportation of clerics who preach violence, as part of a push to rid Australia of the “disease” of fundamentalism.
Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali compared the spread of Islamic fundamentalism in Australia to AIDS, and said he and other moderate clerics across the country must take firm steps to win the hearts and minds of impressionable young Muslims.
“They are a disease like AIDS and you can’t cure them with Panadol,” Sheik Hilali said of radical clerics.
In some of the strongest public comments yet by a senior Islamic figure in Australia, Sheik Hilali also told The Australian the sale of Islamic literature preaching hatred or violence should be banned. But the call was flatly rejected yesterday by Australia’s most senior fundamentalist Islamic cleric, Sheik Mohammed Omran…
“A small number of Muslims do have a disease of the mind,” Sheik Hilali told The Australian at his office attached to Sydney’s largest mosque, in the southwestern suburb of Lakemba.
“The ASIO, the other authorities and the journalists know who they are. They don’t pray here (at Lakemba Mosque), they don’t respect us, they have in the past called us disbelievers.”…
“It’s like they are remote-controlled. They could be steered down the wrong direction,” he said, stressing that the numbers of such Muslims in Australia was small. He said he sometimes went to the homes of young Muslims developing fundamentalist ideals, to try to turn them around. Their thinking had created tension and conflict with their families…
“They (fundamentalist clerics) try to motivate them with aggressive speak rather than teach them about their religion. And boys love conflict.”
Sheik Hilali said Muslim community groups should work together to develop strategies to educate and inform young people about their religion.
His call for extreme books to be banned was welcomed yesterday by the Muslim community umbrella body, provided that it extended to all hate literature and not just Islamic texts.
This seems to be welcome news, but we have had our hopes dashed before in our search for the true “moderate” Muslim leader. The Mufti has in the past praised suicide bombers in Israel, said that Australian hostage in Iraq Douglas Wood, was in “honest hands,” said that an attack in Australia would be “reckless,” called Australia “Muslim land” and called Sept. 11, “God’s work” As always we will continue to monitor developments and keep you informed.