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ECAJ lodges complaints against hate preachers

Deborah Stone
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Bearded man wearing white hat and white robe, gesturing

Sheikh Ahmad Zoud delivers a sermon at Masjid As-Sunnah Mosque in Sydney on 22 December (Masjid As-Sunnah)

Published: 26 March 2024

Last updated: 26 March 2024

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) has formally lodged complaints with the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) against two Islamic preachers in western Sydney over speeches that were made late last year and distributed online.

The complaints under the Racial Discrimination Act are against Wissam Haddad and Al Madina Dawah Centre Incorporated and against Sheikh Ahmed Zoud and Awqaf Australia Benevolent Fund Limited.

The complaints allege that the speeches included derogatory generalisations about Jewish people, such as descriptions of them as “monsters”, “criminals”, “bloodthirsty”, raised on “terrorism, violence, and killing”, a “vile people”, and a “treacherous people”, and claims that “their hands are in everywhere in businesses…in the media”.

The Jewish Independent reported in January that the ECAJ was considering legal action if Australian authorities failed to act against Islamic preachers inciting hatred against Jews.

In late December, Imam Ahmad Zoud delivered a Friday sermon at Masjid As-Sunnah Mosque in Lakemba entitled "The truth of the Jews and their characteristics". He described Jews as criminals, terrorists, and monsters.

"Who are these criminals who perpetrate these crimes? Who are the terrorists who act and behave this way? Who are these monsters from whose hearts mercy has been ripped out? My people, these are the Zionists. These are the Jews. However, not all of the Jews are like that; just most of them. The most important characteristic of the Jews is that they are bloodthirsty. They love to shed blood. From an early age, they raise their children on terrorism, violence, and killing," Zoud said, in the sermon which was streamed live on the mosque's Facebook page.

The Al Madina Dawah Centre in southwest Sydney has hosted several of the offending sermons, either live or online. Wissam Haddad, also known as Abu Ousayd, gave a sermon at the Centre in November where he described the end of times as a time when Muslims will kill Jews. "They will say ‘oh Muslim, there is a yahud (Arabic for Jew) behind me, come and kill him’,” said Haddad.

In other sermons, Haddad has described Jews as "descendants of pigs and monkeys" and declared "the sword is the only way to deal with people who reject Allah".

We are taking this action not only to defend the honour of our community but also to protect the future of Australia as a peaceful and socially-cohesive society.

ECAJ Co-Executive Director Peter Wertheim

The ECAJ is seeking, among other things, that the speeches be removed from the internet with a public apology, and that the respondents provide binding commitments that similar conduct does not occur in the future.

ECAJ co-CEO, Peter Wertheim, who is one of the complainants, said, “We are taking this action not only to defend the honour of our community but also to protect the future of Australia as a peaceful and socially-cohesive society. Our country has provided a wonderful home to people of many different faiths and ethnic backgrounds. For the most part we all live together in harmony with mutual respect where everyone is free to observe their faith and their traditions.

"One of the rules of Australian multicultural society is that we do not bring the hatreds, prejudices and bigotry of overseas conflicts and societies into Australia."

Wertheim expressed concern that the Jewish community had to shoulder the burden of responding to hate.

"It is truly regrettable that governments and law enforcement agencies have failed to show proper leadership to enforce this rule, and that it has fallen to our community to stand up to the hatemongers in our midst. We will do this regardless of the human and financial cost. The issue is simply too important for Australia’s future.”

The ECAJ has also expressed concerns that other Muslims have not stood up against antisemitism.

“On any view, these statements are grossly antisemitic”, said ECAJ President Daniel Aghion. “One can only imagine the entirely justifiable outcry if any such rank vilification were expressed from a synagogue pulpit about Muslims.

"Yet this repeated hate-mongering against Jews over the last three months has elicited only a shameful silence from the Australian National Imams Council, many other faith community leaders, and from other parts of civil society. They should know better."

About the author

Deborah Stone is Editor-in-Chief of TJI. She has more than 30 years experience as a journalist and editor, including as a reporter and feature writer on The Age and The Sunday Age, as Editor of the Australian Jewish News and as Editor of ArtsHub.


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