KEYSAR Trad, the longtime spokesman for Muslim cleric Sheik Taj bin al-Hilaly, has been described as "racist" and "offensive" by a judge who today rejected his defamation claim against radio station 2GB. Mr Trad sued the top-rating Sydney station in the NSW Supreme Court after presenter Jason Morrison described him "gutless" and " just trouble" for his conduct at a rally after the Cronulla riots in December 2005, The Australian reported. Mr Trad's comment about the "shame of tabloid journalism' caused the crowd to boo and harass a 2GB journalist near the stage.
The reporter told Mr Morrison he feared for his safety, prompting the presenter to deliver his tirade the following morning, in which he also described Mr Trad as "disgraceful and dangerous individual who incited violence, hatred and racism."
In August 2007, a jury found Mr Morrison had defamed Mr Trad but Justice Peter McClellan found for 2GB in the second - or defence - phase of the trial that was heard in May, saying the statement were true and also protected as comment based on fact. "There is little doubt that many of the plaintiff's remarks are offensive to Jewish persons and homosexuals," Justice McClellan said in his judgment. "Many of his remarks are distasteful and appear to condone violence.
"I'm satisfied that the plaintiff does hold views which can properly be described as racist. "I'm also satisfied that he encourages others to hold those views. In particular he holds views derogatory of Jewish people. "The views which he holds would not be acceptable to most right-thinking Australians."
Mr Trad, who founded the Islamic Friendship Association, faces up to $400,000 in court costs and there are question marks over his credibility after Justice McClellan's scathing judgment.
During the trial he was subjected to close scrutiny about his public profile as Sheik Hilaly's right-hand man and he frequent statements he made to "clarify" the controversial views of the cleric. These included comments that women who dressed provocatively were "uncovered meat" inviting the attention of rapists. Mr Trad suggested Hilaly was "talking about people who engage in extramarital sex."
Neither Mr Trad or Mr Morrison were at Sydney's Supreme Court to hear the judgment. Outside court, a representative for Mr Trad said he planned to appeal. Parties are due to meet again next Thursday to discuss costs.
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