Muslims warn of backlash as cleric barred Print E-mail
Saturday, 13 August 2005


Controversy has erupted in the Muslim community over the decision to deny hardline Islamic cleric Abdur Raheem Green the right to land at Brisbane Airport on the eve of his Australasian speaking tour.

While Australian Federation of Islamic Councils chief executive Amjad Mehboob has backed the move, saying international speakers need to be properly vetted, Australian Muslim Civil Rights Advocacy Network spokesman Waleed Kadous said it was an overreaction which could spark a community backlash.

Mr Mehboob accused the tour organisers who are attached to a Sydney mosque of being gullible for asking Mr Green to speak.

But Abu Kattab, a spokesman for the Islamic Development Council of Australia, which has backed the tour, rejected claims that Mr Green was an extremist.

Mr Kattab said Mr Green had assured them he was not associated with any radical elements.

"There should be no problem as long as what he has told us is accurate," Mr Kattab said.

Mr Green is due to give his first speech, Walking on Thin Ice, on Wednesday in Sydney. He has applied for an Australian visa but has yet to receive a decision from the Immigration Department. He was listed on the department's movement alert list and refused permission to stop in Brisbane on his way to New Zealand, where he is starting his lecture tour.

During his visit to Australia last year, he was accused of making divisive comments in a speech in Bankstown where he said Christianity was a religion to be mocked.

Some Muslims who heard him speak said it was dangerous for outsiders to come to Australia and break ties between religious groups.

Mr Kadous said that while Mr Green was a "fire and brimstone" style speaker he was not that outrageous.

"He is not to many people's taste, including mine," Mr Kadous said.

He a~rgued that there were no grounds for banning someone from entering Australia. Muslims might feel that they were being treated more harshly than others.


Natalie O'Brien

The West Australian, 13 August 2005

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