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Senior Imam on way to Haj pulled up at Sydney airport
Sunday September 21, 2014 11:31 PM, Staff Writer

Even as anger against the indiscriminate raids carried last week escalated, one of the most senior Imams, also an assistant to the Grand Mufti of Australia Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohamed, was on Thursday pulled up at Sydney airport and kept in a room at the airport, a media report said.

Australias Muslims protest
[Protests were held across Australia to condemn the indiscriminate raids carried on Muslims.]

The Australian National Imams Council expressed anger that one of its most senior members, an assistant to the Grand Mufti of Australia Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohamed, was pulled up at Sydney airport on Thursday on the way to the Haj, a religious pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, The Sunday Morning Herald reported Sunday.

The Imam, who met Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Attorney-General George Brandis recently, was stopped at the boarding gate, stripped of his mobile phone and iPad and kept in a room for two hours without explanation, the general manager of ANIC Samir Bennegadi said.

Bennegadi said the Imam was treated in an unprofessional manner and he wondered, if this could happen to one of the most senior Imams in Australia, what could happen to the rest of the Muslim population when, "especially during this time, the Haj, we have hundreds of people leaving Australia every day".

Meanwhile, cases of hate crimes were reported from many parts of Australia following Thursday's raids.

A car has been damaged and daubed with offensive comments, threatening letters have been sent and women have been abused in the street.

A backlash of hate crimes against the Muslim community after the police raids has also sparked a rash of social media comments such as "this is how they should deal with them", "behead them all", "give them a taste of their own medicine for a change" and "we just need to blow up parramatta n bankstown".

One of the founders of the Australian Arabic Council and human rights activist Joseph Wakim said "everyone should remember that no faith tells you to harm innocent people".

"It is not open season on Muslims," Wakim said. "It is not OK to go Muslim-bashing.

"The raids were about stopping people feared to be terrorists, yet it is the Muslim people who are being terrorised."

Rebecca Kay, the secretary of Salam Care, a community services group, said it also feared being the targets of a raid.

"I know some women who have slept in their headscarves just in case," she said.

Kay was collating reports of hate crimes, including harassment, abuse or being targeted, to present to the Human Rights Commission.

"We had some Aussie ladies standing making gun movements with their fingers towards some Muslim ladies," she said. "It is trivial, but it does affect people."

Kay said the complaints were coming from across the western suburbs. "They seem to be more upset at first rather than scared," Ms Kay said.

"But then they do get scared that it might happen again, and they start worrying about whether they need to protect their children."

Police in Australia Sep 18 detained 15 people in Sydney as part of major counter-terrorism raids, reported as the largest of its kind in Australia and based on specific intelligence of plans by the Islamic State to mastermind public executions in Australia.

A string of raids were conducted in the suburbs of Brisbane as part of a 800 officer operation.

Protests were held across Australia on Friday to condemn the indiscriminate raids carried on Muslims. Following the protests, Western Australia Premier Colin Barnett invited Muslims leaders for a meeting.

Barnett said it is important to be conscious of any racial or religious tensions after last week's terror raids in Sydney and Brisbane, and wants to meet them, the Western Australia Today reported.

He said Islamic leaders in Perth have done enough to speak out against extremists, and the threat of violence came from only a small number of people.


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