The Australian Muslim community is enraged and demanding the offending person be removed from office. What's different here is that the community is demanding that the Muslim community's Mufti, Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali, be removed for his execrable Ramadan sermon in which he compared immodestly dressed women to meat and hinted that rape victims were as much to blame as their attackers. This would appear to be a major uproar that will likely lead to him being sacked.
AUSTRALIA'S Muslims yesterday turned on their leader, Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali, amid calls for him to be sacked as the nation's mufti for blaming women for inciting rape.
Sheik Hilali was universally condemned by mainstream politicians and Muslim leaders nationwide and could even face a revolt from within his tight-knit community over the Ramadan sermon in which he likened immodestly dressed women to meat and suggested rape victims were as much to blame as their attackers.
Muslim women were devastated by the sermon – revealed in The Australian yesterday – while John Howard described the comments as "appalling and reprehensible".
The Sex Discrimination Commissioner Pru Goward demanded that Sheik Hilali be charged with "incitement to rape".
Members of the Lebanese Muslim Association, which owns Sheik Hilali's home mosque in Lakemba, in Sydney's southwest, met late last night to consider his eviction.
Association board members agreed to delay their decision on the mufti's future until after they had listened to a tape of the controversial comments and considered the context in which they were made.
Sheik Hilali had earlier refused to resign but apologised for any offence caused to women.
"I unreservedly apologise to any woman who is offended by my comments. I had only intended to protect women's honour, something lost in The Australian presentation of my talk," he said in a statement.
Despite insisting The Australian misrepresented the sermon delivered at his mosque in southwest Sydney in September, two independent translations of the Ramadan address were even more damning of the sheik.
The Australian has the transcripts. They are very, very damaging. There are some of the strongest criticisms I have heard yet being voiced by Muslims about this nastiness:
Sydney-based cleric Ibrahim el-Shafie said Sheik Hilali was "divisive" and Muslims had suffered as a result.
"I would suggest that this person would step aside and leave the community," said the imam, from Bankstown Mosque in Sydney's west. "Every imam, every religious figure needs to take the responsibility and they should all vote to push him out and put him aside – (enough) is enough."
Another prominent Sydney cleric, Khalil Shami, said he wasn't surprised to hear Sheik Hilali making such comments about women. He said Sheik Hilali had been "destroying the reputation" of Australian Muslims for years and had never made any serious statement to improve the community's integration into the mainstream.
"I've never heard the mufti say anything about how we can work together (with the wider community)," said the imam, from Penshurst Mosque in Sydney's southwest. "He's separated us (even further) now. And on this occasion, now I think we should tell him he shouldn't make any more statements on behalf of all Muslims."
Good for them. The board of the Lebanese Muslim Association is apparently meeting right now to determine if they are going to bar him from using their mosque to preach from. Let's hope they do the right thing.