‘Like a script from a mafia movie’: Peak Muslim body AFIC descends into turmoil
The country’s peak administrative Islamic body has descended into further turmoil in a turn of events that observers have quipped is like “a script from a mafia movie”.
A group of former executive members of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, who either stepped down or were banned last year, arrived at the organisation’s Zetland headquarters late at night last week with a locksmith.
Islamic school loses funding
The federal government has decided to cut up to $19 million in Commonwealth funding to Malek Fahd Islamic School after a nine-month investigation into the school. (Courtesy ABC News 24)
Hafez Kassem, who circulated a letter of voluntary resignation last year, now claims he was only on temporary leave and has “officially resumed my duties as president”.
Keysar Trad, who was elected unopposed to replace Mr Kassem in August, has not been able to enter the offices since last Monday.
The building remains occupied by the former members, who convened a meeting on February 11 and installed themselves as the executive committee and passed no-confidence motions in all others, including Mr Trad.
On Monday, AFIC launched legal action in the NSW Supreme Court against Mr Kassem and eight others.
Redfern police were called to the scene on Monday night but have told AFIC they won’t act until a civil court determines the legitimate committee.
“Thuggery at it’s finest, so say goodbye to the Islamic schools,” one community leader posted online. (More below the fold)
Nothing to worry about: Kayzar Trad is on the case. (LOL!)
Last year six Islamic Schools Schools embezzelled $60 MILLION from both State and Federal Governments.
They have been given chance after chance after chance.
This school must close and so must the other FIVE?
How long do we have to go on being treated like MUGS!!
In other news:
Islamic College of South Australia has funding revoked
Federal Education and Training Minister Simon Birmingham has revoked funding for the Islamic College of South Australia, because the school has repeatedly failed to meet strict governance and other conditions placed on it since April last year.
Senator Birmingham said funding would cease on April 14, and the school had one month to appeal the revocation.
“It is disappointing that after the number of chances this school has been given and the constructive work the Department has been doing with the authority since November 2015 the school has still failed to meet the reasonable standards and expectations placed on them,” Senator Birmingham said.
“This decision has not been taken lightly. However the Department was left with no choice.”
The board instated three new members on February 9, four days after acting principal Lynda McLeod and chairman Mohamad Abdalla resigned over issues concerning the school’s governance.
A parent spokesman said the five current directors had links to Muslims Australia, which was formerly known as the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils.
Senator Birmingham said he concerns centred on the school’s independence, financial management and governance arrangements.
He said he would be working with his South Australian counterparts to minimise disruption for students.
“Thuggery at it’s finest, so say goodbye to the Islamic schools,”
Another community member wrote: “OMG this is like a script from a mafia movie”.
AFIC, made up of nine state and territory Islamic councils including Christmas Island, controls six Islamic schools, administers halal certification and sits on $65 million worth of assets.
Mr Kassem and key AFIC figures Agim Garana and Amjad Mehboob left after revelations of years of mismanagement, nepotism and financial impropriety.
A federal government audit in 2015 found all six schools were run improperly.
About $19 million in federal funding was withdrawn from Malek Fahd Islamic College in Greenacre last year after a court upheld evidence that the school had been siphoning profits to AFIC through high rents and fake loans.
In one of many questionable transactions, Mr Mehboob took a phantom role providing “capital management services” to the school for more than $481,500. Unexplained loans of more than $2 million were also made to AFIC.
Several school principals and staff members have previously told Fairfax Media they were sacked by AFIC after they started inquiring about financial information or suspicious withdrawals from the schools’ accounts.
In a special meeting on January 28, AFIC members agreed to relinquish control of the schools.
However, 36 hours before the meeting, Mr Garana sent a letter on AFIC letterhead saying it had been postponed to February 11.
At the February meeting, control of the schools was reinstated to AFIC and a motion was passed labelling the federal government’s concerns “Islamophobic” and “highly exaggerated”.
Afterwards, Mr Kassem circulated a statement titled: “A new executive committee, a new beginning”.
“I acknowledge my role in laying the ground for what AFIC has become and for that I apologise to you all,” he wrote.
“I am however, also uniquely positioned to fix what has happened and it is for this reason than I have resumed my position as president.”
Fairfax Media has seen letters written by several state council presidents telling Mr Kassem he unlawfully entered the Zetland office and imploring him to leave.
“You cannot suddenly 6-7 months later decide you want to be president again,” Mohamed Mohideen, president of Islamic Council of Victoria wrote. “AFIC does not belong to individuals but to the whole … community”.
Mr Kassem did not answer calls and Mr Trad declined to comment while the Supreme Court case is ongoing.