“A call to hate and to prayer,” from The Australian, with thanks to Scaramouche:
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….
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….
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….
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….