by: Natalie O’Brien
A video produced by the controversial Islamic group Hitzb ut-Tahrir after a public rally in Sydney last year following Israel’s bombing of the Gaza strip, has been condemned as promoting hate speech and inciting hatred against Jews.
The video, which has been posted on YouTube, features the head of the organisation Ismail Al Wahwah saying “where Jews thrive corruption abounds”.
The comments include calling Israelis infidels and that the entire world suffers because of them and their “hidden evil” and that “the embers of Jihad against the Jews will continue to thrive”.
There are also chants of “Khaybar Khaybar the armies of Muhammed will return” – which is said to be a reference to the historic battle of Khaybar in which Jews were massacred.
The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive Vic Alhadeff has condemned the messages in the video as hate speech.
“It’s deeply shocking that at this time of heightened concern about national security, a public figure can so brazenly incite violence and raw hatred against other Australians,” he said.
“He needs to be condemned immediately by all of us who are committed to Australian values of peaceful co-existence. We’re either against this type of evil in our midst or we’re not. There’s a choice to be made.”
But a spokesman for Hitzb ut-Tahrir, Uthman Badar, said: “These comments were made in a protest against the brutal Israeli aggression on Gaza in July 2014, wherein ‘Israel’ bombed Gaza for weeks on end, indiscriminately, not even sparing hospitals or schools.
“Over 2000 innocent people lost their lives, including 500 children. Little boys were killed while playing on the beach. When read in context, the comments are entirely appropriate. When taken out of context, all sorts of ludicrous claims can be made.”
Mr Badar said: “The cheap allegation of ‘hate speech’ is a McCarthyist attempt to silence dissent. It is support for Israeli atrocities, such as that afforded by the Prime Minister, that spreads hate, not principled opposition thereof.”
He also said that Muslims shouting “Khaybar Khaybar” in relation to the “current Jewish aggression” would be like Russia shouting “Berlin Berlin” in the context of (a hypothetical) German aggression against Russia, referring to the Battle of Berlin in 1945. So it’s a symbolic mode of resistance which effectively says, “We’ll overcome your aggression now as we did in the past.”
Prime Minister Tony Abbott promised to crack down Hizb ut-Tahrir in his speech on Monday about national security.
He has previously expressed frustration that current laws did not allow the government to proscribe the group.
He has also said that “there is no doubt they are an organisation that campaigns against Australian values, that campaigns against Australian interests. They are a thoroughly objectionable organisation.”
Hizb ut-Tahrir has been banned in Germany, Russia and several Middle Eastern countries, but operates freely in Britain and Australia.
But Mr Abbott’s foreshadowed moves to crack down on the group have been labelled as unproductive.
Mainstream Muslim leaders have said banning the group would not work and the Mufti of Australia, Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohammed said it would be a “political mistake”.