Radical Islamic leader scorns Diggers fighting in Afghanistan

MUSLIMS "have an obligation" to target Australian troops in Afghanistan, an Islamic conference leader said. Branding the Afghan war a Western invasion, Uthman Badar, from the radical Islamic organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir, said: "If our members exist in a country where an occupation has occurred, in capacity as individuals they would have an obligation to resist."

Asked directly if he condoned the killing of Australian troops in Afghanistan, Mr Badar replied: "If you are occupying someone else's land then those victimised people have the right to resist."

He also refused to condemn underhand tactics such as suicide bombing as long as "innocent, non-combatants" were not targeted.

He was speaking as hundreds of Muslims gathered in Lidcombe, in Sydney's west, to promote their call for the creation of an Islamic state ruled by Sharia law, stretching from Spain to Australia. The group has been banned in many countries overseas, including parts of the Middle East. Although Hizb ut-Tahrir does not representmost of Muslims in Australia, it has a growing following here.

While Australian forces joined the war in Afghanistan to capture Osama Bin Laden and fight the Taliban in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks, Mr Badar said the Australian Government had no business being there. "You have no business in interfering with the people of the Muslim world," he said. "Military occupation should be resisted militarily. People there have a right to resist."

But Islamic Friendship Association of Australia chairman Keysar Trad said the views of Hizb ut-Tahrir were not shared by most mainstream Australian Muslims. "We would like to see the conflict in Afghanistan resolved peacefully and Australian troops return home safely," he said.

Outside the conference, police were forced to call for reinforcements, including the dog squad, when a group of about a dozen members of the Australian Protectionist Party chanting "no sharia law in Australia" almost came to blows with young men from the Hizb ut-Tahrir event.

Protest organiser and APP NSW chairman Darrin Hodges said: "Hizb ut-Tahrir have been banned in most Islamic countries in the Middle East. We don't understand why they haven't been banned here."


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