* Deliberate misinterpretation or comprehension problems?
GRIFFITH University’s Muslim scholar Mohamad Abdalla has vowed not to “chase” any more Saudi government funds and admitted that accepting money from Riyadh was not a good look for his Queensland institution.
* But yesterday he said the same thing only to contradict himself by saying that he will get Saudi funding when no one is looking. So which one is it?
Dr Abdalla, who helped Griffith University obtain a $100,000 Saudi embassy grant for his Islamic Research Unit, yesterday also praised a controversial Islamic group, which has a Brisbane arm, but said he was not its leader.
Queensland’s Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson last night intervened to support the Islamic scholar, who, The Australian revealed last week, had in 2006 sought $1.37 million from the Saudi embassy and offered to keep elements of the deal secret.
Mr Atkinson praised Dr Abdalla for engaging with the authorities and promoting harmony between Brisbane’s Muslims and the rest of the community.
* Sure. That should be normal. But does that mean Islam-critics like Ayaan Ali Hirsi, Wafa Sultan, Taslima Nasreen or Salman Rushdie are safe from Muslim attacks in Australia?
He dismissed Dr Abdalla’s links to Tablighi Jamaat, whose overseas members have been linked to al-Qa’ida and the 2005 London bombings, saying the Griffith academic was a role model for young Muslim men.
“His stance, from what I have seen of him, is in terms of being a moderate person, a sensible person, a person who encourages the Islamic community to engage with the broader Australian community,” Mr Atkinson said.
* Just wait and see, Mr. Atkinson. As soon as these “moderates” gain strength in numbers you will see some changes you won’t like.
(He) works extremely well with youth and has a very positive influence on youth.”
Mr Atkinson said Dr Abdalla had encouraged young Muslims to join Queensland’s police force.
* Mr. Atkinson: how will Muslims in the police force handle rape cases when the perp is a Muslim? Any idea?
Dr Abdalla admitted that if the Saudi embassy were to approve the remaining $1.27 million in funding sought by Griffith, he would advise the university against accepting it.
“I would say: no, don’t take the money,” he said.
Dr Abdalla, the director of Griffith’s Islamic Research Unit, played down accusations that the Saudi grant would influence the university’s agenda.
“(The argument) that Saudi money would affect us is farcical,” he said.
“I will not chase them – Saudi or non-Saudi.
“We would like to be seen as doing work that is not going to be influenced.”
Asked if he accepted that receiving Saudi funding was a bad look for the university, Dr Abdalla said: “Yes, it is”.
He said he would not return the $100,000 grant and would not rule out accepting unsolicited Saudi funds in the future.
The Australian yesterday revealed that Muslim leader Fadi Rahman, who is close to Dr Abdalla, said the academic was the leader of the Tablighi in Brisbane.
* Why would he not tell the truth in this case?
Experts say the group’s non-violent teachings about the importance of the afterlife had left some of its young followers susceptible to recruitment as suicide bombers.
* What…? Read this sentence again. That doesn’t make sense…
Dr Abdalla denied he was the leader of the Tablighi in Brisbane. However, he was sympathetic to its ideals and the group was represented at the Kuraby Mosque - in Brisbane’s southeast – where he is one of the leaders.
* So he is not the leader, but he is one of the leaders…???
Queensland District Court judge Clive Wall last week accused Griffith University of becoming an “agent” through which the Saudi embassy was propagating hardline Islam.
* Dr Abdalla refused to answer questions about his connection with the Tablighi when interviewed by The Australian, except to say membership of the group was not controversial.
He also compared Griffith to Pakistan’s madrassas, which are notorious for breeding radicals.
When Vice-Chancellor Ian O’Connor defended the university’s pursuit of Saudi funding in an opinion article published in The Australian last week, he came under fire for using Wikipedia as a source of his material and for his confused interpretation of Islam.
Ameer Ali, our ‘moderate Muslim’ advisor:
Ameer Ali warned of the dangers of the radicalisation of Muslim university students, saying these students should be critical of everything they are told by secretive Islamic groups.
Howard government adviser Ameer Ali says an “educational revolution” is needed, with students taught to challenge ideologies espoused by hardline groups such as Tablighi Jamaat and Hizb ut-Tahrir, without fear of being ostracised.
“This revolution in modern education has become all the more urgent in the light of competing and dangerous ideologies that … capture the hearts and minds of vulnerable sectors of disgruntled communities,” he says.
“Until the West embraces these progressive educational measures, TJ and HT will continue to thrive and their followers will continue to become fodder for jihadist and martyrdom operators.”
There has been widespread concern that groups such as Tablighi Jamaat and Hizb ut-Tahrir are recruiting on university campuses.