Rabbi urges Muslims to break silence

Break the silence: Chief Rabbi David Freilich. Picture: Danella Bevis/The West Australian

The head of WA's Jewish community has urged Muslim leaders to condemn Islamic extremists publicly, warning that their silence is fuelling "suspicion" of their religion.

Chief Rabbi David Freilich joined Christian and Muslim community members in Perth on Friday to sign a petition denouncing the rise of "Islamaphobia" in Australia.

But he said what was really needed was for Muslims to send a strong and clear message to the wider community that they did not support the brutality being committed in countries including Iraq and Syria in the name of Islam.

"The moderate Muslim leadership should sign a petition that should be published in all Australian newspapers condemning the murderous behaviour of the extremists of the Islamic faith," Rabbi Freilich said.

"This would have a far greater impact on the general community in dispelling any suspicions or misconceptions than a mere petition signed by other faith leaders."

Rabbi Freilich said his comments were not meant to be inflammatory and he hoped Muslims would accept them in the spirit they were intended.

"As a Jew I respect every religion . . . and I would also hope and pray that our Muslim brethren would also take a stance against the persecution of Jews," he said.

The Islamic Council, which represents WA's Muslim community, refuses to speak to The West Australian accusing the paper of having an anti-Muslim bias.

The council is yet to publicly clarify its position in relation to the Islamic State.

In its most recent statement released on Friday, it attacked the Abbott Government's proposed anti-terrorism laws as being anti-Muslim.

But it said nothing about the recent violence committed by Islamic extremists including the beheading in Iraq last week of American journalist James Foley.

The founder of the Australian Arab Association Salim Youssef agreed that Muslims needed to speak out against IS atrocities.

He said the group did not represent Islam and was doing enormous damage to the reputation of Muslims around the world.

"They are not an Islamic State, but rather a group ofextremists who are damaging Muslim society and making us all look bad," Mr Youssef said.

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