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Superintendent Writes

Sunday, 26th December, 2004

Christmas has come and gone and people have celebrated in all sorts of ways. At the beginning of the year I warned on this page about the consequences of a Victorian Court case that was being heard. After costs involving millions of dollars, the ruling came down, just before Christmas on the two Christian pastors who have already paid over half a million dollars in legal fees. Encouraged by a Government department, the Islamic Council of Victoria has struck against the Christian Church in Victoria. In a classic example of the results of well-meant, but terribly flawed legislation, two pastors (Daniel Scott and Danny Nalliah) have been charged and convicted in Australia with “religious vilification” under The Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001.

Under the law religious vilification means they said disparaging things about another religion. In this case the curious thing is the way the case came about. Post September 11, the Islamic Council of Victoria was pushing for this type legislation. One opponent was “Catch the Fire Ministries” whose president is Danny Nalliah. After passage of the legislation, three recent converts to Islam were encouraged to attend the conference that was being held on Islam by pastors Scott and Nalliah (in a church). One of the female converts was encouraged to attend the conference by May Helou, who was employed at that time by the Equal Opportunity Commission. She was also involved with the Islamic Council and the Australian Arabic Council, and Victorian Arabic Social Services.

Thereafter, a complaint was made to the Victorian Equal Opportunity Council. When reconciliation failed, one of the most expensive law firms in the country was hired. All this stems from a Church seminar on Islam given by pastors Nalliah and Scott. At this seminar, meant to educate people about Islam, the pastors relied heavily upon several texts, mainly the Qur’an (Koran) and Hadith. During the court case, the plaintiffs gave chapter and verse references from the Qur’an and Hadith about the role of women in Islam. The Court was told that in Islam, a husband’s sexual demands must be met, even if his wife is cooking a meal, that a wife is as property, that a “temporary wife” is acceptable, and that a woman is “deficient in intelligence.” The Islamic Council’s Lawyer Debbie Mortimer asked him to only cite the references, not to actually read the verses because she claimed that the reading of those passages, even in court, was vilification. This all smacks of a giant set up designed to set a legal precedent to suppress free speech. The frightening thing is, this legislation is very much in vogue in Western countries. To ensure the democratic of free speech in discussing the merits or otherwise of various religions, the law must be changed in all Australian states. I am committed to this course of action.

 

This is Gordon Moyes.


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