Islamic cleric Farrokh Sekaleshfar leaves Australia after anti-gay comment controversy
A visiting Islamic cleric has defended his comments supporting the death penalty for homosexuals in certain cases before flying out of the country this evening.
- Sheik Farrokh Sekaleshfar denies having any connection to gunman Omar Mateen
- Bill Shorten says he is not welcome in Australia if he held those views
- Sheik says comments were made in academic setting and that they were taken out of context
Sheik Farrokh Sekaleshfar, who was visiting Sydney, made the anti-homosexual comments at the University of Michigan three years ago and they have been reportedly linked to the recent massacre in Orlando — a claim he strenuously denies.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had earlier ordered an urgent review of the Sheikh’s visa saying Australia had a “zero tolerance for people who come to Australia to preach hatred”.
The Sheik said his comments were made in an academic setting, and he regretted they were filmed and published online.
He said he advocated the death penalty for homosexuals who have sex in public, in a country that abides by Islamic law.
“When does this question of death theoretically arise? It arises in particular scenario and it’s such a small probability that I’ve never even heard of such a scenario arising, where in such a country, with such a mandate, where the rule of law is Islam, there where homosexual couples … commit anal copulation in public — no-one does that,” the Sheikh said.
In an interview with the Lateline, he expressed his sympathies to the families of those who died in the Orlando shooting and denied his comments could be seen as justification for the massacre.
“No speech, especially when you’re not inciting any hatred and it was given three years ago, that would never lead to such a massacre,” the Sheikh said.
Three years ago the message was no different. He was inciting the same hatred.
“That animal, they are connecting me to him [Omar Mateen]. Not at all. He was an ISIS sympathiser, a follower of Baghdadi, these people are criminals.”
So is Sheik Farrokh Sekaleshfar. They’re cut from the same cloth.
He also said he would respect any action taken by the Australian Government.
“But if the Government were to make that decision and the people want that, then I respect it, but I don’t see any reason for fear even though I do understand why people may panic.
“But I just want to give that assurance that it’s not a theme, my themes don’t revolve around this area.”
His themes revolve exactly around these areas.
Pull my other leg:
Australia won’t tolerate people ‘preaching hate’: Dutton
Mr Turnbull yesterday said Immigration Minister Peter Dutton had asked his department to conduct the review of the Sheik’s visa.
“This is a legal matter and has to be dealt with in the appropriate way, but his visa is being reviewed at the direction of the Minister even as we speak,” Mr Turnbull said.
Mr Dutton said he was first made aware of the case on Monday.
“We need to consider all of the facts before we make a decision, but the Government’s position remains very clear,” he said.
“We won’t tolerate people who are preaching hate in our country, we wont tolerate the presence of people who fail the character test under Section 501 of the Migration Act.”
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the Sheik was not welcome in Australia if he held those views.
“If this is the fellow who two or three years ago gave a speech talking about homophobia [and] killing people who are gay, I don’t know how on Earth that fellow got a visa,” Mr Shorten said.
Because there are schmucks like Shorty in the immigration department. They gave him a visa.
“Let’s call it straight. We’ve got a character test in our visas.
“I think the Government needs to get onto it quick smart, and this person, in my opinion, is not welcome in Australia holding those abhorrent views.”
That’s what these wankers said about Geert Wilders.
From other news sites:
EMMA ALBERICI: Reporter James Thomas spoke exclusively to the sheik before he flew out from Sydney Airport and left so abruptly, having previously decided to give a series of lectures.
This interview has to be seen to be believed as are the Sheik’s eyes.
Here is James Thomas, speaking to the sheik at the airport.
JAMES THOMAS, REPORTER: Sheik: quite a day, yes?
FARROKH SEKALESHFAR, SHEIK, ISLAMIC CLERIC: Yes, no problem.
JAMES THOMAS: So you’ve decided to leave?
FARROKH SEKALESHFAR: Yes. It’s a decision which IHIC thought it was in my best interests and for the best interests of the community. And I didn’t want to go against the committee’s decision.
JAMES THOMAS: So you weren’t asked or called by the Government at all?
FARROKH SEKALESHFAR: Not at all, no.
JAMES THOMAS: No?
FARROKH SEKALESHFAR: No.
JAMES THOMAS: So it was a voluntary decision?
FARROKH SEKALESHFAR: Yes. I respect IHIC’s decision. And all I want to say – because I know this got caught up in the political (inaudible) and everything – that never have I incited hatred or violence against human beings. And I want from the Prime Minister to the people of Australia to understand that.
And 99.9 per cent of all the stories try to misconstrue that. And I thank you for giving my side of the story this afternoon. Thank you very much.
(Footage of Sheik Farrokh Sekaleshfar entering airport)
EMMA ALBERICI: We’ll go now to our reporter, James Thomas, who is at Sydney Airport.
James, earlier in the day you secured an exclusive interview with the sheik. I’m curious to know how he explained to you the seeming contradiction between calling for the execution of homosexuals while, at the same time, offering condolences for the victims of the nightclub massacre?
JAMES THOMAS: Well, he is of the opinion that his comments were set – excuse me, there’s a plane going overhead as we speak.
But he basically says that him condoning the death of homosexuals pertains to a specific aspect of Islamic law in a specific circumstance that doesn’t apply to what happened in Orlando: and that was essentially how he reasoned his way out of it.
He literally told me that what he was referring to was a homosexual sex act in public, in a certain country that has a certain Islamic law, mandated by the people; and that would therefore be justified. However, he believes that what happened in Orlando is not the same and doesn’t condone that.
In fact, he believes that the guy that did what he did in Orlando was perverted. So it was a bizarre kind of a justification, but that’s the one he gave.
EMMA ALBERICI: Now, you did speak to him earlier today. I gather at the time there was no suggestion he was going to leave the country so abruptly?
JAMES THOMAS: No. He was happy to stay. He made it clear to me when we spoke that, should there be any change to his visa, that he would respect the laws of the land, making the point that, you know, the whole point of his speech was about the laws of the land from which he comes. And therefore, if it happens to be that our laws don’t fit him, he would leave.
So I did speak to him earlier. It was a fairly extensive interview. He was keen to put everything into context, as far as he was concerned. And this is what he had to say:
(Footage of interview) http://www.abc.net.
JAMES THOMAS: Sheik.
FARROKH SEKALESHFAR: Oh. Hi, there. How are you?
JAMES THOMAS: Hi. Nice to meet you. James Thomas.
FARROKH SEKALESHFAR: Nice to meet you. Thank you.
JAMES THOMAS: I guess I should really start by saying I’ve seen that you did say what you said…
FARROKH SEKALESHFAR: Yes.
JAMES THOMAS: …so why? Why do you say these things?
FARROKH SEKALESHFAR: Well, three years ago in the University of Michigan, a very notable university, I was invited to give a speech, explaining what Islamic law has to say on the question of homosexuality.
I was invited. It was an academic setting. There were all kinds of people: Muslims, non-Muslims, heads of department there. Everyone was there. No-one booed me. Everyone knew it was academic. You know, I’m not…
By its very nature, in an academic setting, it never qualifies that one wants to incite hatred, because it’s all about academia.
When does this question of death theoretically arise? It arises in one particular scenario and it’s such a small probability that I’ve never even heard of such a scenario arising: where in such a country with such a mandate, where the rule of law is Islam: here, homosexuals come in the public, in such a country and commit what? Not just, you know, hugging one another: committing anal copulation in public. Have you… No-one does that. Homosexuals don’t do that.
JAMES THOMAS: But if they did, that…?
FARROKH SEKALESHFAR: If they were to do it in public – and assuming that public which saw the act were to report it – now the judiciary can come. And here the judiciary, if it’s substantiated before them: there the death sentence applies.
JAMES THOMAS: You might cloak it in the robes of academia, but can you see that your views would strike as thoroughly abhorrent to just about everyone in the Western world?
FARROKH SEKALESHFAR: Yes. And maybe I’m a simpleton. It was my mistake, maybe. Maybe it shouldn’t have been published on video, on YouTube. It should have remained in an academic setting. These things one learns with time: that I accept.
As long as they don’t think I had the intention or there was any inciting. Yes, it may be misused: the effect, society to society. Different cultures: they view things in different ways. Yes, I understand that.
JAMES THOMAS: The issue arises because: yes, you recorded a video where you made these remarks. And at the end of the day, many would find it appalling that you could even condone, as a sentence, death for homosexuals if they’re caught in the act of having sex in public. I mean, why should someone die for that?
FARROKH SEKALESHFAR: Well, if a people grant a mandate and they want a law, then everyone has to respect that law. All countries have this.
In Australia you may have certain laws which may sound very surprising for people from other cultures, but they have to respect it. But I’m a follower of the Islamic faith. But I’m saying the Islamic faith: only that particular scenario. I’m saying it never happens. Have you ever seen homosexuals go out in public and do the act?
JAMES THOMAS: Can you see that there is nothing compassionate about calling for the death of homosexuals in that circumstance?
FARROKH SEKALESHFAR: Yes. This was a very important phrase which: maybe, in retrospect. I would have rephrased it.
JAMES THOMAS: So if you had your time again, how would you rephrase your words?
FARROKH SEKALESHFAR: Well, if I had the time again at the University of Michigan, it would have been the same: the words, but I wouldn’t have put it online, or I wouldn’t have people put it online.
But this question of compassion: this was the context. This had been contextualised. The context was: this judiciary now wants to execute the death sentence.
So the question is: what should their mental framework be when it’s substantiated? And the answer is: they should say, “Look, we love you like any other person. And this is for your own best interests. You will sin less. And when you go into the hereafter, you won’t be accountable because you are punished for the same.”
JAMES THOMAS: But you are punished by death?
FARROKH SEKALESHFAR: Yes.
JAMES THOMAS: So you’re straight into the hereafter?
FARROKH SEKALESHFAR: You’re in the hereafter. And how fortunate you are, because you won’t be accountable for it because of that punishment. And now you’re in the hereafter. We’ve saved you.
We believe in the hereafter. If you look at the 70, 80-year-old human being and limit it to that: yes.
JAMES THOMAS: So basically, it does seem to me that you are unrepentant for the essence of the comments you made, but just regret that it was seen by a wider audience?
FARROKH SEKALESHFAR: And also repentant that I have upset many people.
JAMES THOMAS: But can you see that your comments can lead to others interpreting your comments as justification for doing terrible things like the Orlando massacre?
FARROKH SEKALESHFAR: Oh, no. Like the Orlando shooting?
JAMES THOMAS: Yeah.
FARROKH SEKALESHFAR: No, no, no. That can’t be justifiable. No speech, especially when you’re not inciting any hatred – and it was given three years ago: that would never lead to such a massacre.
JAMES THOMAS: Can you tell me: what connection did Omar Mateen have with you? Did he learn…?
FARROKH SEKALESHFAR: Nothing. I swear by Allah: nothing at all. This was the most upsetting thing, which made me even stop speaking with the media. Otherwise when this first – the havoc, two or three months ago, when it all started.
I mean, the speech was given three years ago. The havoc started three months ago in Orlando. There, I never replied. I didn’t want to speak with the media. It was…
But this time, they’re connecting me to the massacre. They’re connecting me to that. Forgive me for saying, but that animal: they are connecting me to him. Not at all.
He was an ISIS sympathiser. He was a follower of Baghdadi. These people are criminals. They’re perverted people who want through violence – they’re just using this ideology to satiate their perverted, violent, hostile inner desires.
JAMES THOMAS: So you do think you should have been granted a visa and that you shouldn’t be kicked out of the country?
FARROKH SEKALESHFAR: No, not at all. But if the Government were to make that decision and the people want that, I respect it.
But I don’t see any reason for fear or, even though I do understand why people may panic, but I want to just give that assurance that it’s not a theme. My themes don’t revolve around this area.
JAMES THOMAS: So what will you do? I mean, how is- what is your reaction to the reaction to you?
I mean, have you been gobsmacked by what’s happened? Have you been – can you tell me what the last couple of days has been like?
FARROKH SEKALESHFAR: Well, not that I’ve been gobsmacked. The only issue which really disappointed me: the link. As if that, you know, animal: linking him to me and getting me involved in that. That was – that was – I couldn’t accept that.
JAMES THOMAS: So what do you say to the family and friends of people who have lost loved ones in that massacre?
FARROKH SEKALESHFAR: Yes, right. I offer my sincere condolences, sincerely to the friends and families of those bereaved with such an event. I ask everyone, Muslims, to contribute and help to the needs of these families, in whatever capacity. Even if it’s just a hello to them, or saying, “We are with you to help”: that is my response.
JAMES THOMAS: Well, Sheik, I can’t accept your views, but thank you very much for your time.
FARROKH SEKALESHFAR: Thank you very much Thank you. All the best. Thank you. Thank you.