Al-Hilali an embarassment to Muslims

Sheik Taj al-Din al-Hilali is an embarrassment to Islamic Australians but it is up to the Muslim community to do something about it, Prime Minister John Howard has said.

The cleric sparked controversy last week, when on an Egyptian chat show he labelled white Australians “liars” and said Muslims were more entitled to be in Australia than those with a convict heritage.

In comments aired on Australian television last night, he took a swipe at Mr Howard calling him “Mr Me Too” because “he wait for any news from America to say ‘me too”‘.

When asked today if he was offended by the comments, Mr Howard replied: “I have been insulted by experts.”

Mr Howard said the mufti was entitled to return to Australia because he was an Australian citizen and had done nothing to breach that right.

But he called on Islamic Australians to do something about the cleric, saying it was in their own interests because he was damaging their community.

“I think the community has got to show a bit of generic leadership, he is an embarrassment to Islamic Australians,” Mr Howard told reporters.

“I worry about the damage his behaviour is doing to the image of Islamic Australians within our broader community, I don’t want them to be hurt by him but they alone have it in their hands to stop that happening.”

Mr Howard said it was no good NSW Premier Morris Iemma saying the mufti could stay overseas because it was the last Labor government who were responsible for making the cleric an Australian citizen.

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AAP, via Perth Now, Australia
Jan. 14, 2007

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This post was last updated: Monday, January 15, 2007 at 6:21 AM, Central European Time (CET)