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Friday, 6 December 1985
Page: 3113

To the Honourable the President and members of the Senate in Parliament assembled.

We your petitioners humbly pray that the Senate will accept this petition to reverse the decision of the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs the Honourable Chris Hurford to not permit a change of status to sheikh Tajeddine Al-Hilaly and to:

(a) Note the concern of us your petitioners that the Commonwealth Government chooses to decide who may be a fit and proper person to occupy the position of Imam of Lakemba Mosque by requiring that the sheikh depart by 30 September 1985 so that the position of Imam at the Mosque be left vacant to be filled by another person;

(b) Note your petitioners concern that this is a fundamental attack on the basic liberties of Australians being the right to believe and practice religious worship without interference and the right of our Imam to speak out against interference in religious worship by goverments (local or foreign) whenever he perceives it;

(c) Note that your petitioners request that permanent residence be granted to sheikh Tajeddine Al-Hilaly;

(d) Note that the discrimination thus perceived against sheikh Al-Hilaly be discontinued and that he be accorded respect and assistance given to all other religious leaders in Australia who have come from abroad.

We the undersigned petitioners state unreservedly our support for sheikh Al-Hilaly and our admiration for the manner in which he has performed his duties as Imam at a time when the Lebanese community has been strained by the tragic events in Lebanon. Furthermore his fraternal association with other religious leaders both christians and muslims has helped to prevent the disputes and divisions which presently exist in Lebanon from arising in Australia.