Australia's top Islamic cleric dies

Australia's top Islamic leader has died.

Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Azeem al-Afifi died in hospital in Melbourne's north before dawn on Wednesday, the Australian National Imams Council said in a statement.

"Sheikh Abdel Aziem Al-Afifi has dedicated himself to serving the Australian Muslim Community for over 20 years."

The sheikh, a founding member of the council, was only elected as Grand Mufti in March.