I’m the mufti in all but name,’ says Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali
AUSTRALIA’S most controversial sheik, Taj Din al-Hilali, has declared himself the nation’s most senior Islamic figure.
“I still have the authority and the decisions related to all Islamic matters in Australia,” he said.
The Australian/thanks to Mullah
“Practically, I (am) still in my position but I don’t want the name.” When asked if he considered himself the most senior Islamic figure in Australia, he replied: “Yes . . . I have the qualifications and experience and have served the (Islamic) invitation for 50 years, 30 years of which (have been) in Australia.”
Sheik Mohamadu Saleem, the secretary of the Australian National Imams Council, said Sheik Fehmi was the grand mufti, his term having been extended until 2012. “Sheik Fehmi is the only mufti recognised by ANIC and the majority of the Muslim community. Sheik Taj is not even on the subcommittee that elected the mufti,” Sheik Saleem said.
Sheik Hilali said the “seeds” of fundamentalism had always been there and he now saw those seeds “expanding”.
“I am worried for our community and our society. I am worried for that because this will encourage the youth to act against elections, and act against dealing with others, which is dangerous.”
Last year, ASIO warned there had been a spike in the number of Australians travelling abroad for “terrorism-related purposes”, concerns apparently shared by the sheik.
“I worry about that,” he said. “Some people are being trained in Arab countries and return to act like an exploding bomb.” He laid the blame for this burgeoning radicalism at the feet of overseas preachers, saying there was “no control” over visiting clerics.
He warned against the “Rambo” style of some Islamic preachers, whose aggressive sermons appealed to “the way of youth”.
“The louder they speak, the more youth they gather around them,” Sheik Hilali said. When asked which Islamic preachers were of concern, he replied: “ASIO knows them all.”
Sheik Hilali has been an intensely controversial figure in the Australian Muslim community.
He provoked outrage when he compared scantily clad women to “uncovered meat”, in remarks that suggested the victims of brutal gang rapes bore some responsibility for their attacks.
Sheik Hilali said he regretted having made the remarks, adding they were the result of a lack of “wisdom” on his part.
“I acknowledge that I had made statements which were not wise at that time,” he said.
The controversy saw Sheik Hilali effectively sidelined as a spokesman for the mosque.
Sheik Fehmi could not be contacted for comment.
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