Thursday, January 17, 2008

Australian Islamic group faces extremism claims

(Gambar: Sheik Taj el-Din Al Hilaly)
More than 30 Australian Islamic organisations have issued a statement accusing the al-Ahbash group, which operates in Australia, of being extremist and fanatical.

The statement is signed by key Islamic leaders, including Australian Federation of Islamic Councils president Ameer Ali and the imam of Sydney's Lakemba Mosque, Sheik Taj el-Din Al Hilaly.

The group also runs under the name Islamic Charitable Projects Association.

The signatories say they reject the al-Ahbash because they regard its views and practices as deviant, perverse and directly at odds with policies of Australia's multicultural society.

The statement describes the group's behaviour as extremist and fanatical and designed to create division and hatred among people.

The Australian president of al-Abash, Ghayath Al-Shelh, has rejected the criticisms by Dr Ali and the other leaders.

"We've always been regarded as a moderate Islamic association working for integration and harmony and its clear we have done so for years," he said.

"It's been acknowledged by many politicians and we are thought of as role models for the Islamic community to follow."

Mr Al-Shelh says some of the signatories signed the statement after being misled by the office of Sheik Al Hilaly.

"Not every member of the Muslim community is happy with what he is claiming," Mr Al-Shelh said. (

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