Bias claim after Muslim activist ban

An Islamic activist banned from giving a lecture at the University of WA has attacked what he calls Australia's hypocrisy when it comes to freedom of speech for Muslims.

Uthman Badar was listed as the headline speaker for a conference titled the Crisis in Gaza to be held on the university's Crawley campus on Saturday.

But UWA's Muslim Students' Association, which organised the event, cancelled his invitation yesterday after _The West Australian _revealed Mr Badar's links to the radical Islamic group Hizb Ut-Tahrir, which advocates overthrowing Western governments and creating a global Islamic state.

Speaking from his home in Sydney yesterday, Mr Badar said he understood why the association had made the decision, accusing UWA's hierarchy of pressuring it to cancel the lecture.

"I don't blame them (the students' association) for that decision . . . This reveals the reality of freedom of speech for Muslims in this country where a person does not have to even open his mouth before he is castigated," he said.

"There is a bias (against us) and that is very clear."

Association executive officer Nazim Khan denied he was pressured by the university, saying UWA's Muslim community did not want radical views hijacking what was an important conference.

He said a third party not linked to the university invited Mr Badar to speak and the association failed to look into his background before approving him.

"We felt quite let down by the person who organised him because he knew who the speaker was and he chose not to tell us and when we realised, we cancelled it straight away," Mr Kahn said.

"We do not want to associate ourselves with any extreme views or extreme movements or people with such reputations."

In a statement yesterday, UWA vice-chancellor Paul Johnson said: "The university is committed to the principles of tolerance, equity and the appreciation of diversity."

The West Australian

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