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Antisemitic preachers

ECAJ to take legal action on clerics

"One can only imagine the entirely justifiable outcry if any such rank vilification were expressed from a synagogue pulpit about Muslims," says ECAJ president Daniel Aghion.

Sheikh Ahmed Zoud, preaching at the Masjid As-Sunnah mosque in Lakemba, Sydney.
Sheikh Ahmed Zoud, preaching at the Masjid As-Sunnah mosque in Lakemba, Sydney.

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) plans to take legal action against several Sydney Muslim clerics who have made hateful comments about Jews.

The communal roof body said it was outraged and disgusted at a series of antisemitic statements reportedly made by self-described Islamic preachers in Sydney.

ECAJ president Daniel Aghion said, “One can only imagine the entirely justifiable outcry if any such rank vilification were expressed from a synagogue pulpit about Muslims.

“Yet this repeated hate-mongering against Jews over the last three months has elicited only a shameful silence from the Australian National Imams Council, many other faith community leaders, and from other parts of civil society. They should know better.”

Police have not been able to take action against the clerics, as the comments do not reach the threshold of being criminally actionable.

Aghion stated that the Jewish community will itself take legal action.

“Whilst we still have hope that the relevant authorities will act on these matters, our organisation will pursue the legal remedies that are available to us against those who have preached hate and promoted violence. We must protect our own community. In doing so, we will be protecting all Australians from racist behaviour.”

Aghion has called for the hate preaching to stop now.

“There are multiple ethnic and faith communities in Australia and the last thing we need is for our peaceful and cohesive society to be ruined by the importation into Australia of the hatreds and violence of overseas conflicts.

“Governments bear the primary responsibility of maintaining peace and security in the community by taking decisive action to stop anyone seeking to set Australian against Australian,” he said.

He said the Jewish community has been deeply disappointed and distressed that no action has been taken in response to serious

incidents of hate speech since October 7.

“If existing laws are not fit for the purpose of dealing with this hate-filled bile, and the stoking of violence, then the law should be reformed as a matter of urgency,” he said.

ECAJ co-CEO Alex Ryvchin said, “These sermons are intended to terrorise the Jewish community, turn Australian against Australian, and make hatred of the Jews a religious duty. We have repeatedly called for those who hold positions of influence to denounce antisemitism as un-

Islamic and un-Australian.”

He added, “Our history shows us again and again that when preachers and clerics use their platforms to incite against us, lives are lost.

“We’re not going to wait for that to happen.”

Opposition leader Peter Dutton has also weighed in on the issue, saying the Jewish community should not have to take action.

He told The Australian, “Jewish community leaders should not have to plead for help to have the law enforced when their community is under siege [and] should not have to foot the legal bill for actions the government should be taking.

“Not only should the government be strengthening the laws – for which I offer the federal Coalition’s full support – they should be reimbursing the Jewish community for legal action against these vile and repugnant attacks,” Dutton said.

Former Australian ambassador to Israel and Liberal Senator Dave Sharma said it is disgraceful that the Jewish community has been forced to take legal action to address this hate speech.

“Our state and federal Labor governments and law enforcement authorities are clearly failing in one of their most fundamental duties, which is to keep our community safe.

“Our political leaders have been insufficiently clear and resolute in calling out and condemning such speech, too often speaking out of both sides of their mouths instead,” he said.

Sharma told The AJN the “sad truth” is that until such antisemitic speech is clearly condemned, and seen to lead to criminal action, it will continue.

The AJN invited the National Imams Council to respond to the criticisms of the comments made by the four Sydney Muslim clerics.

They were asked if these comments are representative of mainstream Australian Muslim opinion, what effect their speeches might have on our multicultural society and if they thought ECAJ was justified in taking legal action or not.

It did not respond before press time.

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