The nation's Islamic leader, Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali, has dismissed the Holocaust as a "Zionist lie" in a series of fierv sermons in which he also lashed out at the West and the LS-led occupation of Iraq. And Sheik Hilali - the mufti of Australia and a member of John Howard's Muslim Community Reference Group - also accuses the federal Government of being dishonest for claiming the anti-terrorism laws were not designed specifically for Muslims. "These laws are tailored to target us precisely," he said in a sermon recorded at Sydney's Lakemba Mosque in November - one of a number of recordings The Weekend Australian has of Sheik Hilali's religious addresses delivered in Arabic over the past eight months.
Revelations that the nation's most senior Islamic cleric has been openly preaching extreme messages to his mainstream followers will be a major setback for the Howard Government. Sheik Hilali is a senior member of the Prime Minister's Muslim advisory board. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Multicultural Affairs Andrew Robb will tomorrow unveil details of federal funding for national projects to help address problems within the Islamic community.
Mr Robb, who oversees the advisory group, told The Weekend Australian Sheik Hilali's reported comments were "inflammatory and unacceptable".
Last night. Sheik Hilali stood by his sermons: "We are always saddened and always remember with great sorrow what Nazism did to the Jewish people," he said in a statement to The Weekend Australian. "However, we do not wish to see these crimes repeated by other hands. There is no denying that for some time now, some who see themselves as supporters of Israel do abuse the Holocaust whenever Israel is engaged in its indefensible wars and crimes against humanity. "People, myself included, are within their right to question the morality of exploiting the memory of the Holocaust."
Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said Sheik Hilali's intolerance of other religions was hypocritical. "It is not the time for anyone in positions of responsibility to make comments about other groups, particularly if you are someone who has been concerned about a lack of tolerance towards Muslims," he said.
In a February sermon, Sheik Hilali attacked the Western press for being afraid to admit that the Holocaust was "a ploy made by the Zionists". He also trivialised the number of Jews killed by the Nazis. "What's that six million all about? Is there six million?", said the Egyptian-born cleric, before calling on Muslims worldwide to boycott Danish goods over the publication of cartoons that offended Muslims for their depiction of the prophet Mohammed.
In another Friday sermon, delivered two weeks ago at Lakemba Mosque - titled The Zionists Murder Palestinians and the World Watches and the Muslims Are Silent - he called the U.S. the breeders of oppression and labelled Israel "a cancer that is planted in the heart of the Ummah (Muslim community)"
The above article appeared in "The Australian" newspaper on July 15, 2006
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