Muslim leaders urge against protests

Muslim leaders urge against protests AAP

Muslim leaders are urging a halt to protests until the furore over last weekend’s riot has eased, saying the anti-Islamic film that sparked ugly scenes in Sydney’s CBD wasn’t “worth it”.

They say Saturday’s violence was caused by a minority of demonstrators angered by the film, but admit disaffected youth and a lack of education were also problems.

The Muslim leaders came together to denounce violence at a media conference at Lakemba Mosque on Tuesday.

“We’re encouraging everybody not to engage in protest rallies until we manage to get things settled down, until we can make everyone understand the repercussions of what happened on Saturday,” Silma Ihram, a board member of the Australian Muslim Women’s Association, said.


“We’ve seen enough. This film is not worth it. What they are doing is counterproductive.”

The 50-minute media conference followed a Monday night meeting in western Sydney of senior Islamic leaders from 25 organisations.

Ms Ihram said everyone who attended was “very stressed” and “feeling the strain” of the spotlight being put on the Muslim community.

She said protesting was a right for everyone, including women and children, but such events had to be properly controlled in the future.

An investigation would be held into the behaviour of police and protesters alike, she said.

“If you feel sympathy and loyalty to the prophet, it doesn’t mean you should jump up and shout,” Ms Ihram added.

She said the riot highlighted a “real lack of education in our community” and that Muslims had to “reach out” to young people involved in the clashes with police.

Samier Dandan, president of the Lebanese Muslim Association, described the lack of engagement with the violent minority as a “shortcoming”, but he hoped the episode would be a mere “blip” in his community’s history.

“The Muslim community leadership plans to place greater focus on developing specific programs which could effect positive change amongst the youth,” he said.

“We call upon all Muslim religious leaders to address the incident in their sermons this coming Friday, calling for calm in line with the greater legacy of our beloved Prophet Mohammed.”

Referring to text messages apparently sent inviting people to riot last weekend, Mr Dandan advised Muslims to ignore any such communication in future.

He revealed members of the Muslim community had received threats since the weekend, both by text and on Facebook, but messages of support had also been received.

© 2012 AAP

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