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'A vile display'

Hate on our streets

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said, "The government utterly condemns this offensive and hateful antisemitic rhetoric. There is absolutely no place for racism or prejudice in Australia." 

Video footage of Ismail Al-Wahwah at a Hizb ut-Tahrir rally in May. Photo: Screenshot
Video footage of Ismail Al-Wahwah at a Hizb ut-Tahrir rally in May. Photo: Screenshot

A NEW video has emerged of a rally in Australia held by Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir, attended by its spiritual leader Ismail al-Wahwah, at which the crowd reportedly chants along to the cry in Arabic “Destroy the Jews!”

Al-Wahwah is currently being investigated for comments in a video released last year of a 2017 rally in which he declared, “The very knife with which you cut Palestine is a criminal, infidel, hypocritical knife, and it will be turned against you … This knife will sever your heads from your bodies … the day will come when you will cry blood.”

The new video, filmed in Sydney in May during Israel’s conflict with Hamas, and translated by the Middle East Media Resarch Institute (MEMRI) also features a speaker leading a chant in Arabic of “Khaybar, Khaybar, o Jews! The army of Muhammad will return,” a reference to a seventh century massacre of Jews by Muslim forces, and another speaker saying, “O Allah, give us the necks of the Jews!”

The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (JBOD) is referring the video to the NSW Police Fixated Persons Investigation Unit, which is also looking into the previous video.

It is the first test for NSW’s new anti-incitement laws introduced in 2018, following the JBOD-led “Keep NSW Safe” campaign, which was initiated after the then-laws were inadequate to prosecute al-Wahwah for a previous speech.

A NSW police spokesperson told The AJN this week about the previous video, “Inquiries into the matter are continuing, which includes consultation with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP), whose approval is required to commence proceedings for a 93Z offence.”

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said, “The government utterly condemns this offensive and hateful antisemitic rhetoric. There is absolutely no place for racism or prejudice in Australia.”

Wentworth MP Dave Sharma has written to Andrews, urging the federal government to list Hizb ut-Tahrir as a terror group.

“Hizb ut-Tahrir is listed as a terrorist organisation in many countries around the world, and you can see why. We should do the same in Australia,” he said.

JBOD CEO Darren Bark said comments such as those in the videos are shocking and confronting “not just to the Jewish community, but to all Australians”.

“There is no place for this sort of hatred in our harmonious and multicultural society,” he said.

“We know these views are a minority within the community, but this hatred needs to be condemned and addressed without hesitation.”

Calling the video a “vile display”, NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel chair Scott Farlow said Hizb ut-Tahrir “should stand condemned”.

“The rally calls for the destruction of the Jews, it is not fair comment on Israel, it is vile antisemitism and should have no place in this country,” he said.

“Israel and the Jewish people have a right to exist and they have a right to exist on their ancestral lands they have called home for thousands of years.

“This group is a serial offender and this rally needs to be further investigated by authorities.”

Parliamentary Friends of Israel chair deputy chair Walt Secord, who is also shadow minister for police and counter-terrorism, has written to NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman, NSW Police Minister David Elliott and NSW Multiculturalism Minister Natalie Ward urging “immediate action”.

“This video and the speeches are clear examples of incitement to racial hatred,” he said.

“Clearly, the views expressed in this video have no place in society.”

Deputy Leader of the Victorian Liberal Party and Member for Caulfield David Southwick said, “This appalling behaviour not only fuels hate but borders on inciting violence and is only potentially one step away from a devastating attack.

“If this abuse directed at Jews was targeted to any other ethnic or religious group there would be outrage and there must be legal protection to stop this hate fuelled incitement.

“Our Victorian Parliamentary inquiry recommended that this hateful behaviour would be outlawed with potential jail time and we need such laws in place to protect people regardless of background from targeted attacks.”

Meanwhile, advocacy group the Australian Jewish Association (AJA) has not only written to Speakman to urge an investigation, but also to the Australian Human Rights Commission to request it investigates whether the video is in breach of Section 18C of the federal Racial Discrimination Act.

“AJA believes these chants breach 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act and meet all four thresholds – insult, offend, humiliate, intimidate,” president David Adler wrote.

“The sort of expressions contained in this video of hatred and violence against Jews, have incited antisemitic violence on numerous occasions overseas.

“It is shocking that this has occurred in Sydney.”

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