Some 12 months ago, then education minister Dr Brendan Nelson called upon Islamic schools to adopt Australian values or “clear off”. It’s now clear what Dr Nelson meant by Australian values. He wasn’t just referring to their following the example of an Englishman who breached immigration laws. They should also ensure their children are barred from watching TV, attending university, using computers and e-mail, using mobile phones and eating lunch with children from other denominations. Muslims following isolationist theology will be rewarded. And proof is found in the Government’s open support to the fringe Lebanese al-Ahbash sect and its representative on the PM’s Muslim Reference Group Mustapha Kara-Ali. The al-Ahbash sect hold views about non-Ahbash people similar to views held by the Brethren about non-Brethren. I’ve experienced this myself. Prominent al-Ahbash leaders have castigated me for cooperating with Buddhist groups and for being involved in interfaith dialogue. In fact, al-Ahbash sect leaders sought my assistance to lobby politicians to close down an Egyptian Coptic newspaper which they claimed had criticised the Prophet Muhammad. Among the leaders was a broadcaster on the al-Ahbash radio station who has interviewed at least two Federal Ministers. Further, al-Ahbash engages in similar forms of excommunication of dissenting family members as the Brethren. I know of numerous cases where siblings joining the sect have been ordered to cut themselves off from other siblings and family members. Attitudes of al-Ahbash leaders toward non-Muslims are most troubling. One Australian Lebanese Muslim told me she was ordered by an al-Ahbash leader to remove Christian relatives from her house as they were kuffar (plural of kafir or “infidel”) and therefore shouldn’t be extended hospitality. Yet the sect’s Mustapha Kara-Ali, has been praised by both the Minister and by at least one columnist. Kara-Ali claims no formal association with front organisations of the sect (including the “Islamic Charitable Projects Association”) but admits he follows their Lebanese-based religious leader. Andrew Robb is bankrolling a program managed by Kara-Ali. Robb needs to declare whether he approves of the isolationist theology of the al-Ahbash sect and whether he believes its teachings will further the process of integration he claims to support. Finally, Robb needs to explain why he is spending our tax dollars on a sect closely linked to the Syrian Ba’athist government and to the assassination of a former Lebanese Prime Minister.
The Muslim equivalent of The Exclusive Brethren
There has been a lot of talk about Australian values lately but it seems Muslims following isolationist theology will be rewarded. And proof is found in the Government’s open support to the fringe Lebanese al-Ahbash sect and its representative on the PM’s Muslim Reference Group Mustapha Kara-Ali, writes Irfan Yusuf.