Australia’s Grand Mufti slams government ban

Bryan Seymour

The Federal Government should drop its plans to ban the radical group Hizb ut-Tahrir, according to the spiritual leader of Muslims in Australia.

The Grand Mufti has also slammed Australia's involvement in Syria and support for Israel saying it will lead to more young Muslims joining Islamic State.

“I don't agree, it's the wrong decision to legislate such a thing. I think it's a political mistake,” said Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohammed.

Dr Ibrahim is the Grand Mufti Australia, the spiritual leader of half a million Muslims living here in Australia.

Speaking through an interpreter, Dr Ibrahim told 7News just because Hizb ut-Tahrir is banned overseas, including in the United Kingdom, we should not ban the group here.

(Correction: Despite two attempts, Hizb ut-Tahrir is not banned in the United Kingdom. It is, however, banned in numerous countries including Pakistan, Egypt, Turkey, many Middle Eastern countries, Bangladesh, Russia, Germany and many others).

“Hizb ut-Tahrir is not against freedom of speech, he, they are actually pro-freedom of speech and they are actually practising this policy those who are against freedom of speech are the ones who are thinking to ban HBT from expressing their thoughts,” Dr Ibrahim said.

Viewers, politicians and authorities were outraged when 7 News showed this video of Hizb ut-Tahrir preacher Bilal Merhi leading children as young as six in extremist chants. Photo: 7News.

7News has passed evidence to authorities of senior members of Hizb ut-Tahrir radicalising young children, condemning democracy and free speech and supporting Islamic State.

“There's been a great deal of evidence of leaders of Hizb ut-Tahrir inciting people, inciting their followers to embrace extremist ideologies,” said Senator George Brandis, the Attorney General of Australia.

In one video aired on 7News, Hizb ut-Tahrir preacher Bilal Merhi told a group of young boys at a Summer Camp in December: “What the Mujahedeen (Islamic State) are doing today is the best they can do and we give them, we all salute, we take our hat off to them what they are doing today. They're doing their best with whatever they have.”

“I see the Grand Mufti's comments and I'm bound to say that they are variance with some of the conduct of Hizb ut-Tahrir and its leaders that we've seen, including on your network, Bryan,” Senator Brandis said.

Dr Ibrahim believes the ban is a cynical move to deflect attention away from the Government's other problems.

“It's not right on the politicians side to shift, to create an atmosphere of controversy when they are facing issues within their own party or the government... ‘I don't like you, just close your mouth’, so this is the reason we think is behind it, it's a politician in trouble, wants to switch the light this way," Dr Ibrahim said.

Jamal Daoud, a Sunni Muslim who founded the Social Justice Network, welcomes the ban. Photo: 7News

“I think that's a very regrettable thing to say... Nobody should make light of this threat andnobody should attribute motives to Government's other than we need to protect our people and we will,” Senator Brandis said.

Attorney General George Brandis, Australia’s top law-maker, will introduce legislation to ban the radical Islamist group. Photo: 7News

Some Muslim Community leaders welcome the ban, even urging the Government to go further and monitor Mosques.

“Most of the recruitment and brainwashing happens during the Friday prayers during the last four years where the Imams and the people who conducted the Friday prayers were encouraging people to help their comrades, their brothers, Mujahedeen in Syria and Iraq,” said Jamal Daoud, founder of the Social Justice Network.

Critics of this ban fear the new laws could be misused by the Government to ban any group it doesn't like, forcing them underground. The Grand Mufti says Australia's involvement in Middle East conflicts is already driving young Muslims here to join Islamic State.

“The West is turning a blind eye to the just cause and the suffering of lots of people living in the Middle East and they are blindly supporting Israel and their reaction to this? They go and join DAESH!" Dr Ibrahim said.

Dr Ibrahim made it clear he does NOT condone Islamic State.

“We don't agree that any person, young or old, should consider joining fundamentalist terrorist groups,” Dr Ibrahim said.

As for Tony Abbott, I asked ‘What advice would the Prophet Mohammed give our beleaguered Prime Minister?’

“Quit politics!”

News break - 13 February