'Hate-mongers in our midst''Governments and law enforcement agencies have failed'

ECAJ launches action against hate preachers

"One of the rules of Australian multicultural society is that we do not bring the hatreds, prejudices and bigotry of overseas conflicts and societies into Australia," says Peter Wertheim

ECAJ co-CEO Alex Ryvchin.
ECAJ co-CEO Alex Ryvchin.

In taking legal action against two Islamic hate preachers, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) is stepping up where the police and government have failed, the roof body’s co-CEOs said this week.

The ECAJ announced on Monday that it has formally lodged complaints with the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) against two Islamic preachers in western Sydney over speeches that were made late last year, recordings of which have been uploaded online.

It follows the ECAJ announcing in January its plans to take action on the issue.

The complaints allege that the speeches included derogatory generalisations about Jewish people, such as descriptions of them as “monsters”, “criminals”, “bloodthirsty”, raised on “terrorism, violence and killing”, a “vile people”, and a “treacherous people”, and claims that “their hands are in everywhere in businesses … in the media”.

The complaints have been made against Wissam Haddad and the Al Madina Dawah Centre in Bankstown, and Sheikh Ahmed Zoud and the Awqaf Australia Benevolent Fund.

According to The Australian, Haddad – who also goes by the name Abu Ousayd, is head of an informal religious school at the Al Madina Dawah Centre.

The ECAJ is seeking for the speeches to be removed from the internet with a public apology, and that the respondents provide binding commitments that similar conduct does not occur in the future.

“One of the rules of Australian multicultural society is that we do not bring the hatreds, prejudices and bigotry of overseas conflicts and societies into Australia,” said ECAJ co-CEO Peter Wertheim, a co-complainant.

“It is truly regrettable that governments and law enforcement agencies have failed to show proper leadership to enforce this rule, and that it has fallen to our community to stand up to the hate-mongers in our midst.”

ECAJ deputy president Robert Goot, who is also a complainant, told Sky News the organisation regards the speeches by the clerics “as undermining the social cohesion, the stability and the pace of what we have grown up with as a very successful multicultural society, with different ethnicities and different faiths cooperating and living essentially peacefully together”.

The ECAJ hasn’t ruled out the possibility of further legal action against other western Sydney hate preachers.

Co-CEO Alex Ryvchin told 2GB on Monday there had been since October 7 on a weekly basis, “These sorts of sermons appearing, these sorts of horrific utterances about the Jewish people.

“We were in a position where the police or the government didn’t seem to have the powers or the will to do anything about it. And we have to step up to protect our community and also in broader society,” he said.

“It won’t be as punitive, won’t be as effective as criminal prosecution, but [will] at least hold these people to account and hopefully prevent this sort of conduct happening in future.

“These aren’t just empty words,” he continued. “These are forceful sermons delivered by people who are seen as religious authorities, people to be trusted and believed by their followers.

“And it creates a real danger in our society that people will act on this.”

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