Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone has reminded controversial Sydney Muslim cleric Sheikh Taj el-Din Al Hilali that if he does not like Australia, he does not have to come back.
Senator Vanstone was reacting to comments reportedly made by the Sheikh on Egyptian television.
He is reported to have said that people who paid to come to Australia have a greater right to be in the country than Anglo-Saxons who arrived in shackles, and that Australian law guarantees freedoms to the point of insanity.
Senator Vanstone says Sheikh Al Hilali has used these same freedoms on countless occasions to attack Australia’s heritage, society and values.
She says her office has received a large number of calls from people who are outraged by the reported comments.
The founder of the Islamic Friendship Association of Australia, Keysar Trad, says comments made by the Sheikh have been misinterpreted.
“I certainly, when I viewed it yes I did cringe at some comments and wish [he] didn’t make them,” he said.
“But the reason I did that is because I understand that there are people who will nit-pick at his comments and will take snippets and interpret them with their own spin on them and this is exactly what has happened.”
But he Acting Prime Minister, Mark Vaile, says the comments by Sheikh Al Hilali are totally inappropriate.
Mr Vaile says the comments should be dismissed.
“Obviously they were totally inappropriate as we’ve come to expect from Sheikh Hilali,” he said.
“Certainly to be made whilst overseas on foreign television criticising the country in which he lives, they’re just totally inappropriate.”
‘Lost the plot’
The Federal Opposition Leader, Kevin Rudd, says the Sheikh has lost the plot and if he does not like Australia there are plenty of other options.
“Shiekh Hilali increasingly strikes me as being several sandwiches short of a picnic,” he said.
“When it comes to Sheikh Hilali’s remarks they are just increasingly laughable.
“Sheikh Hilali is complaining about a lack of democracy back in Australia.
“If Sheikh Hilali doesn’t believe there’s enough democracy in Australia, why doesn’t he stay in Egypt and not come back? Solve a big problem for us back home as well.”
That report was from the ABC site in Australia.
Two major thoughts spring to mind.
Firstly, three of my ancestors arrived here in Australia in chains. Each one went on to lead a productive life after his release. Not one of those is now alive and not one of their decendents has arrived in Australia “in shackles”. Each one of their decendents now alive has been in Australia all their life. So, does the Sheik mean that people who have lived all their lives in Australia are less Australian than those who have arrived here, with the permission of the Australian Government, as people who were born elsewhere? Hmmm. Sorry, Sheik, that DOES make you one sandwich short of a picnic.
Secondly, he complains about too much freedom in Australia. If he was still in his birth country, would he be permitted to criticize his government as he does his adopted Government? Or is he complaining because he wants to live under a controlling and dictatorial Government?
Sheik, this comment, “Australian law guarantees freedoms to the point of insanity”, regardless of its context in and of itself shows that you are at least one more sandwich short of a picnic.
Finally, Keysar Trad, it is all very well to keep saying, “He has been mis-interpreted”. Please let us know just how he has been misinterpreted. Just what words have been misquoted or quoted out of context. The Sheik has done this once too often now. It is time he left this place he obviously hates, or it is time he shut up completely, as he said he would after the last bit of garbage fell from his bigoted and uncontrolled mouth. Obviously he had no intentions of ceasing his comments, and obviously he has not done his 600 hours in a women’s welfare organisation. For an Imam, he shows little respect for secular and human truth.
I am sorry if I cause upset to any of my Muslim friends but he is making me angry with his silly comments.