It’s hard to know what to make of the reports in The Australian about comments allegedly made by Sheik Tajeddine Hilaly about the relationship between dress and s-xual violence. If Sheik Hilaly indeed made such comments, they should be condemned loud and clear. It seems strange that an imam of Hilaly’s seniority should make remarks reminiscent of an imam more junior to him. Hilaly saw how many Muslims (including myself) responded on that occasion. He should know that such comments are not tolerated by all but the most culturally ignorant Muslims. At the same time, Richard Kerbaj has in recent times made some serious errors in his translating and reporting of incidents involving imams. Kerbaj’s own knowledge of matters pertaining to Muslim communities has had some serious flaws. Further, The Oz has been known to go to the extent of manufacturing verses from the Koran, which don’t actually exist when finding alleged religious explanations for violent crime. However, at the end of the day, responsibility lies with Sheik Hilaly. The Sheik has lived in Australia for some two decades, and still has not learned to speak fluent English. I know of imams who have lived here for lesser time than Hilaly. One Turkish Imam I know has not only mastered English but has even started learning Bahasa Indonesia. No doubt Hilaly will blame Kerbaj and The Oz for making errors in translation. But had Hilaly bothered to learn English in the first place, such mistranslations would never have occurred. And describing women (including s-x workers) as “meat” cannot be condoned in any context. It is now up to the management of the Lebanese Moslems Association (who manage the Imam Ali ben Abi Taleb Mosque where Hilaly delivers sermons) to take firm action. The LMA has a new leadership, and their President has shown excellent leadership during the Israel/Lebanon crisis. The last thing the LMA needs is to have a crisis like this on its hands. The LMA should sack Sheik Hilaly forthwith. Anything less would be simply unacceptable.
Why Sheik Hilaly should be sacked
It’s hard to know what to make of the reports about comments allegedly made by Sheik Hilaly about the relationship between dress and s-xual violence. If Sheik Hilaly indeed made such comments, they should be condemned loud and clear, writes Irfan Yusuf.