My old buddy Sheik Dicky Kerbaj continues his series on the nefarious Saudi influence on Muslim institutions. Writing in The Australian today, Kerbaj claims to have revealed “for the first time” the identity of six imams paid by Saudi Arabia. That’s right. Six.

Sydney has some 100 mosques. Melbourne perhaps more. Maybe 20 in Brisbane. All have at least one full-time paid imam. Among the gang-of-six is imam at the Omar Mosque at Auburn. Had Kerbaj visited the mosque, he’d have seen a plaque there clearly stating the mosque is fully owned by the Australian Islamic Cultural Centre, an organisation run by Australia’s Saudi religious financier Shafiq Khan.

As far back as September 2005, the Sydney Morning Herald profiled Khan’s extensive links to both Saudi royalty and the Howard government. Why would Khan use Saudi money to manage his mosque but not the imam’s wages? Some scoop, Dicky. Kerbaj then makes the extraordinary claim that the six Saudi-paid imams “are leaders of the Islamic community in the country”. Leaders? In what sense? Is he suggesting that these six imams manage all community affairs of Aussie Muslims? Why hasn’t anyone told these imams? Why haven’t the 360,000-odd people tempted to tick the “Muslim” box on their census forms?

So why should we give a hoot about all this? Because, according to Kerbaj, the Saudis are involved in a huge international plot “to propagate Wahhabism, the puritanical brand of Islam espoused by al-Qa’ida”. Kerbaj continues to peddle this notion, using the phrase in numerous articles including this one from October 2007. Kerbaj is perhaps not aware of ambiguous relationship between al-Qa’ida and Wahhabism.

Of course, if we were to take Kerbaj’s logic to its furthest conclusion, we would effectively hold that Wahhabis (especially Saudis) are all potentially linked to al-Qa’ida. As Crikey reported earlier this month, a Saudi prince owns at least a 7% stake in News Corporation. Further, this Prince has been known to directly influence FoxNews reporting on Muslims, even ringing Kerbaj’s employer Rupert Murdoch.

Is Kerbaj suggesting that Sheik Rupert bin Murdoch is linked to al-Qa’ida?

Is The Oz becoming a mouthpiece for Usama bin Ladin?

Is Chris Mitchell a closet Wahhabi?

Now that’s what I call a scoop!

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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