The former Qantas baggage handler Bilal Khazal, who is facing trial
for inciting terrorism, was one of about 300 Muslims and sympathisers
who gathered in Parry Park at Punchbowl to call for an end to the
Government's "draconian" anti-terrorism laws.
Agnes Chong of the
Australian Muslim Civil Rights Advocacy Network said the community was
concerned about the legislation, which will include police powers to
detain suspects without charge for a fortnight.
"We know of at
least 18 people who have been questioned and detained under ASIO
warrants," she said, adding that the secrecy involved meant little was
known of each case. "Do you want the same thing that is happening
elsewhere in the world happening in Australia? … We are not going to
stand for this. We have to use every legitimate means to prevent unjust
Khazal, 35, has pleaded not guilty. His trial begins in April.
Chaaban Omran, the president of Australian Muslim Students and Youth,
said: "As Australians, we just want to be treated like everyone else.
We don't wish to have all these laws set out that will lead to us
Zachariah Matthews from the Islamic Council of NSW, called for an end
to "journalism of hatred", saying sections of the media were peddling
untruths about Muslims: "We are not asking for favourable treatment, we
are asking for true journalism."
Sydney Morning Herald, 28 September 2005