Sydney mosque leader slams extremists

A protester outside the Parramatta mosque in Sydney yesterday. The demonstration forced parts of Parramatta to be closed. Since last week's shooting, anti-Islam fringe groups have called for the mosque that the 15-year-old gunman attended to be close
A protester outside the Parramatta mosque in Sydney yesterday. The demonstration forced parts of Parramatta to be closed. Since last week's shooting, anti-Islam fringe groups have called for the mosque that the 15-year-old gunman attended to be closed.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Head of mosque linked to fatal shooting says privilege of citizenship should not be abused

The head of a mosque at the centre of last week's Sydney shooting yesterday issued a fierce  attack on Islamist extremists, telling worshippers "if you don't like Australia, leave". 

"You should not abuse the privilege of being Australian, which is very important," said Mr Neil El-Kadomi, chairman of Parramatta mosque. "We do not need scumbags in the community."

He said Muslims were fortunate to be able to practise their religion openly in Australia, adding that parents should take strong interest in their children's activities and behaviour to prevent radicalisation.

"We live in this community, in this society," he said. "We have to accept the good and bad and the ups and downs in this society."

The Muslim leader  spoke ahead of the Friday prayer service - the same weekly service attended last Friday by a 15-year-old schoolboy who later went to a nearby police headquarters and shot dead a police accountant.

The unusually strong rhetoric came as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called an urgent meeting of counter-terrorism chiefs next week to discuss the effort to combat radicalisation in Australia.

As tensions simmered following the shooting, Mr Turnbull issued a call for "mutual respect" and warned that extremism posed a serious threat to Australian values.

Asked whether people who do not support Australian values should leave the country, Mr Turnbull said: "It is not compulsory to live in Australia.

"If you find Australian values, you know, unpalatable, then there's a big wide world out there and people have freedom of movement," he told reporters.

"Mutual respect is the glue that binds this very diverse country together. It is what enables us to be so successful."

Police are still investigating the exact motivation for the attack by Farhad Jabar Khalil Mohammad, an Iranian-born teenager who shot dead 58-year-old  Curtis Cheng  before being killed by police guards.

Five people, including two of Farhad's schoolmates,  were arrested this week as police targeted a ring of known radicals in Sydney's west.

It is believed that Farhad may have been handed a gun by Muslim radicals at Parramatta mosque before the shooting.  

A 22-year-old man, whose 18-year-old brother has been detained over the shooting, yesterday attended the mosque. He was arrested last year during raids of homes of a group of men who were allegedly planning a series of attacks across Sydney inspired by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Since last week's shooting, anti- Islam fringe groups have called for Parramatta mosque to be closed. A group of people staged a protest outside the mosque yesterday, forcing parts of Parramatta to be closed.

"(New South Wales) Police want to remind any member of the public against engaging in reprisal actions or inciting violence against any community group or individuals," said Superintendent Wayne Cox, a Parramatta police commander.

The Grand Mufti of Australia, Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohammed, said that violent extremism was rare and was being fuelled by violent online teachings emerging from overseas.

"Sadly, a very, very small number of Australians of Muslim faith have chosen this path," he told reporters via an interpreter.

"It's religious, ideological, social and other factors that may have contributed to this kind of motivations. Any remedy should include all the factors, all the ingredients of this mix for us to have a proper remedy, not just focusing on the religious point of, or part of the story."

The mufti said the "misguided teachings (were) imported to us and not made in Australia".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2015, with the headline 'Sydney mosque leader slams extremists'. Print Edition | Subscribe