The Age today describes John Howard and Peter Costello as “under pressure to distance themselves from an evangelical church leader who has spoken at a meeting of the far right-wing League of Rights.”

That would be Mr Danny Nalliah.

Pastor Nalliah, you will recall, distinguished himself in 2004 by distributing a leaflet for the Senate election describing brothels, gambling places, bottle shops, mosques and temples as “Satan’s strongholds”.

According to his online biography, Nalliah also believes he can resurrect the dead – a nifty trick that may yet prove handy for John Howard.

To The Age, Nalliah explained his dalliance with the League of Rights as simply an attempt to convert the heathen. “I thought maybe it is a good opportunity to go and speak and I can change some of their thinking,” he said of his October 2005 speech. […]

Mr Nalliah said he was warned before he went that the League of Rights was anti-Jewish. “One guy in the crowd put his hand up and said ‘Do you believe in the Holocaust?’,” he recalled. “I said ‘To deny the Holocaust would be like saying there will be no daybreak tomorrow morning’.”

Unfortunately for the Pastor, the demonic power of the internet allows us to summons up a quite different account of his speech.

The image of Nalliah in mid-fulmination comes from the Holocaust-denying Adelaide Institute, one of the nastiest organisations in Australia. That webpage also indicates the Albury event attracted a veritable who’s who of racist nutcases, including the Canadian neo-Nazi Paul Fromm and the Adelaide Institute’s own Fredrick Töben. Mr Toben generated a certain notoriety some years back when he enjoyed a brief spell as a guest of the German authorities, after a court found him guilty of Holocaust denial. More recently, he popped over to Iran to participate in the little anti-Semitic jamboree held in that country.

According to the Adelaide Institute, when Pastor Nalliah finished his remarks, the talk turned – as one imagines it often does at such events – to the Holocaust. Mr Toben thought Danny Nalliah was pussy-footing around the main issue. Here’s his account of what happened next.

Fredrick Töben asked Pastor Nalliah one question: ‘Pastor, do you believe in the ‘Holocaust’?

He replied indirectly that Jews had suffered greatly in the past. Töben asked again: ‘Do you believe in the ‘Holocaust’? The good pastor said something about not knowing anything about the topic.

You will note the difference between this coy response and Nalliah’s new claim to have asserted that the Holocaust was as undeniable as daybreak.

Of course, Toben is even more of a babbling Bedlamite than Nalliah, and so it’s hard to know which of them is telling the truth.

Nonetheless, it’s clear that the Albury conference – with Toben and Fromm and sundry other Holocaust deniers in attendance – was less prayer meeting than Nuremberg rally. And what does Nalliah say of it now?

“Let me be honest and truthful — if I am invited again, I will go again.”

Imagine if Kevin Rudd consorted with a high-profile Muslim leader, who was on record describing the holy places of other religions as ‘Satan’s strongholds’ and was then linked with Holocaust deniers. Imagine the editorials in the Australian, the opinion pieces, the vein-popping outrage of the conservative commentariat.

Yet this Nalliah – a man who says he will “go again” to meetings of Holocaust deniers – is, according to the Herald-Sun, meeting with Peter Costello to “prophetically prepare” Costello for the prime ministership. Why isn’t this a major, major scandal?

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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