Criminalised for praying at school
‘INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN MUSLIM’ CONFERENCE SELLS OUT
Controversial Muslim group Hizb ut-Tahrir hosted a sellout event in Bankstown on Sunday attended by over five hundred members of the Muslim community.
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Less than 24 hours after Australians across the country kicked off their shoes to enter the nation’s mosques for a National Day of Unity, Muslims in Sydney were calling for a different kind of solidarity – against a demonising state and its agents.Under the tinkling glass of chandeliers swaying in path of the air conditioning at The Bellevue function centre in Bankstown, hundreds came to hear how their community was being unfairly targeted by police and spies.
“There needs to be unity on issues that affect us as a whole, particularly when the target is Islam itself,” prominent Hizb ut-Tahrir member, Wassim Doureihi, said.
Children in prams, toddlers, and teens accompanied their parents and many sat, mesmerised, to speeches suggesting Australia’s escalating counter-terrorism laws were an attack on Islam itself; that Muslims were being forced to surrender to Australian values.
The conference, organised by Hizb ut-Tahrir, also heard ‘testimonials’ from audience members – people who had been pulled aside by Customs officers at airports, searched, and questioned.
A number of women with relatives charged or convicted of terrorism-related offences and imprisoned at the Supermax jail in Goulburn also spoke.
One said the Muslim inmates were subjected to degrading and inhumane treatment: they could only communicate in English during visits and on the phone, visitors were no longer allowed physical contact with the prisoners and children were forced to see their fathers within the confines of a steel room, behind perspex.
The forum was well organised and well-funded. Lunch was served to more than 500 attendees in individual polystyrene containers at their seats. Speeches were video-recorded and a projector beamed the images of the orators onto a large screen on stage.
There were dozens of ushers donning orange T-shirts printed with the conference title ‘A community criminalised: Innocent until proven Muslim?’
The media was invited and a large number of print and TV reporters, photographers and cameramen filled the space.
But the news media was also regularly criticised for helping to demonise the Muslim community.
A glossy, 36-page booklet distributed at the forum offered general legal advice for those targeted by police and ASIO ‘spooks’, as well as a potted timeline of Australia’s anti-terror laws.
All the speakers encouraged their fellow Muslims to talk about their fears and experiences.
Hizb ut-Tahrir spokesman, Uthman Badar, said Islam was not up for negotiation.
“Islam is not up for negotiation or reform. Islam is what it is.”
November 2, 2015 | Saffron Howden | Source: smh.com.au "'Islam is not up for negotiation or reform. Islam is what it is'"