Australia revokes visa of anti-gay British cleric

It was reported that in a 2013 lecture, Mr Sekaleshfar said "death is the sentence" when asked about homosexuality.
It was reported that in a 2013 lecture, Mr Sekaleshfar said "death is the sentence" when asked about homosexuality.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

SYDNEY • A British Muslim cleric who once preached that gays should be put to death has left Australia after his visa was cancelled, with the authorities saying yesterday that it is unlikely he will ever be allowed back.

Mr Farrokh Sekaleshfar was in Sydney as the guest speaker of an Islamic centre for the holy month of Ramadan.

But it emerged this week that in a 2013 lecture he suggested that death was a "compassionate" sentence for homosexuals, sparking an outcry in the wake of the Orlando nightclub killings.

The cleric flew out on Tuesday evening, coinciding with his visa being revoked.

"We're not going to tolerate people who want to come here to preach hate and we will cancel visas," Immigration Minister Peter Dutton told Sky News. "It will be very difficult, if not impossible, for him to return to our country.''

NO TOLERANCE FOR HATE-MONGERS

We're not going to tolerate people who want to come here to preach hate and we will cancel visas. It will be very difficult, if not impossible, for him to return to our country.

IMMIGRATION MINISTER PETER DUTTON

The Australian newspaper reported that during a lecture at the University of Michigan in 2013, Mr Sekaleshfar said "death is the sentence" when asked about homosexuality.

"Out of compassion, let's get rid of them now," he added.

In an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation before leaving Sydney, he denied his comments could be connected to the Florida massacre.

"That animal, they are connecting me to him (Omar Mateen). Not at all. He was an ISIS sympathiser, a follower of Baghdadi; these people are criminals," he said, referring to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

But the cleric said he respected any action taken by the Australian government.

Meanwhile, a teenager was charged yesterday in Sydney for planning a terrorist attack.

The 17-year-old was detained at his home in Sydney's south late on Tuesday after police were alerted to social media posts.

"He's been charged with one count of acts in preparation for, or planning, a terrorist act... He was also charged with using a telecommunications network with intention to commit a serious offence," the New South Wales state police said.

They also stressed there was no threat to the community.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 16, 2016, with the headline 'Australia revokes visa of anti-gay British cleric'. Print Edition | Subscribe