An Australian Muslim cleric has urged children to be martyrs for Islam and referred to Jews as pigs in a series of DVDs, sparking condemnation by the government and further straining tensions with the nation’s Muslims.
Sheik Feiz Mohammed, head of the Global Islamic Youth Center in Sydney’s western suburbs, is the second cleric to inflame anti-Muslim sentiment in Australia with controversial comments.
Sheikh Taj El-Din Hilaly, the imam of Australia’s biggest mosque, was accused of justifying rape in November after a Ramadan sermon in which he said unveiled women were like uncovered meat.
Australian media said Feiz has lived in Lebanon for the past year and that his “Death Series” DVDs were made public by a British documentary this week called “Undercover Mosque”.
“We want to have children and offer them as soldiers defending Islam,” said Feiz in the video, reported Sydney’s Daily Telegraph newspaper.
“Teach them this: There is nothing more beloved to me than wanting to die as a mujahid. Put in their soft, tender hearts the zeal of jihad and a love of martyrdom,” he said.
The Australian government and ethnic leaders, including Muslims, condemned Feiz’s comments on Thursday.
“The importation of hatred into Australia is totally unacceptable,” acting Attorney-General Kevin Andrews told reporters. “These remarks and the others before them are condemned by the government.”
“Hate speech such as these remarks by Sheik Mohammed has no place in Australian society and must be vigorously condemned by all,” said Vic Alhadeff, chief executive of Jewish Board of Deputies in the state of New South Wales.
Community Relations Commission chairman Stepan Kerkyasharian called for the sheik to face possible race hate charges.
Islamic Friendship Association spokesman Kaysar Trad said the comments did not reflect the sentiments of Australian Muslims.
“As a community, it is quite disconcerting for us that these comments are found from time to time and they’re broadcast all over the news,” said Trad. “They certainly give the public an erroneous impression about Islam and Muslims.”
Last week Hilaly, who left Australia for the Middle East after his controversial remarks, told Egyptian television that white Australians were liars and that Muslims were more entitled to be in Australia than those with a convict heritage.