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Tuesday, 7 September 1993
Page: 1009

Senator MICHAEL BAUME —I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:

  That the Senate—


    (i)with concern the dismissal, during the week beginning 29 August 1993, of charges of malicious damage against the Imam of the Lakemba Mosque in Sydney, Sheik Taj-El-Din Hamel Al Hilaly, because the complainant, the vital prosecution witness, failed to attend the court hearing,

    (ii)that the Imam has been involved in continual controversy, both before and after a previous Minister for Immigration, Local Government and Ethnic Affairs (Mr Hurford) unsuccessfully ordered his deportation, particularly over allegations of anti-Semitic and divisive statements, along with breaches of his specific undertakings to be obedient to Australian law, to respect democracy and to support harmony and co-operation between ethnic groups, despite which the Labor Government had granted him permanent residence, and

    (iii)the Magistrate's remarks that the Imam had admitted to police that he accidentally broke a mini-van window with a lump of wood after a violent argument with a worshipper on 2 November 1992, however, the Imam had denied causing more extensive damage to the van;

  (b)expresses its concern that the legal processes could not properly proceed because the van owner failed to attend the court; and

  (c)calls on:

    (i)the appropriate authorities to institute relevant enquiries to ensure that no improper pressure was put on the van owner to discourage him from giving evidence, particularly in view of previous widely publicised violent behaviour of some supporters of the Imam, and

    (ii)all religious leaders in Australia to encourage, both in word and deed, the peaceful resolution of differences, particularly those of a religious nature, that have the capacity to divide our nation unless religious leaders themselves exercise the tolerance, understanding and love that is central to all the world's great religions.