Australia's top Muslim cleric at the centre of a storm over his comments about immodestly dressed women has asked for "indefinite leave".Here's a bit of good old Aussie common sense:
Sheikh Taj el-Din al-Hilali had asked for leave from his duties at Sydney's main Lakemba Mosque, he said in a statement read on his behalf.
Earlier, he was taken to hospital with chest pains after collapsing.
He again apologised for his comments comparing immodestly dressed women to "uncovered meat".
He said his suggestion that women who did not wear a headscarf attracted sexual assault had been taken out of context and "misinterpreted".
But he conceded the analogy had been "inappropriate and unacceptable for the Australian society and the western society in general".
While Sydney's mosque association had suspended him for three months following the publication of his comments, Sheikh Hilali indicated at the end of last week he would not resign.
On Monday, at a meeting with the Lebanese Muslim Association, he collapsed and was rushed to hospital.
He was said to be in a stable condition but would remain in hospital for at least three days.
Outside the hospital, Lebanese Muslim Association Tom Zreika released a statement from the sheikh, which said he had "asked for indefinite leave from my duties at Lakemba Mosque".
"The pressure of the last couple of days has had an obvious effect on my health and wellbeing. I ask the public to give my family and I some privacy, time and space to recover," the statement said.
Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner Pru Goward accused the imam of inciting rape and said he should be thrown out of the country.Damn straight!
THE nation's most senior Muslim cleric has blamed immodestly dressed women who don't wear Islamic headdress for being preyed on by men and likened them to abandoned "meat" that attracts voracious animals.
In a Ramadan sermon that has outraged Muslim women leaders, Sydney-based Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali also alluded to the infamous Sydney gang rapes, suggesting the attackers were not entirely to blame.
While not specifically referring to the rapes, brutal attacks on four women for which a group of young Lebanese men received long jail sentences, Sheik Hilali said there were women who "sway suggestively" and wore make-up and immodest dress ... "and then you get a judge without mercy (rahma) and gives you 65 years".
"But the problem, but the problem all began with who?" he asked.
The leader of the 2000 rapes in Sydney's southwest, Bilal Skaf, a Muslim, was initially sentenced to 55 years' jail, but later had the sentence reduced on appeal.
In the religious address on adultery to about 500 worshippers in Sydney last month, Sheik Hilali said: "If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it ... whose fault is it, the cats or the uncovered meat?
"The uncovered meat is the problem."
The sheik then said: "If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab, no problem would have occurred."
He said women were "weapons" used by "Satan" to control men.
"It is said in the state of zina (adultery), the responsibility falls 90 per cent of the time on the woman. Why? Because she possesses the weapon of enticement (igraa)."
"These grease ball monkeys with their gold chains and fully sick cars need to know that we're not copping any.Meanwhile, John Howard seems to be in denial.
"We all have stories about (these groups) raping our sisters or bashing our brothers - it's not on.
"So bring your grog down on Sunday and let's start cracking skulls for each other for once."
Prime Minister John Howard called again on Tuesday for calm and tolerance, but again refused to describe the violence as racist, instead labeling it a law and order issue and "domestic discord," saying Australia was not a racist nation.
The racial violence has prompted criticism of Australia's multi-cultural immigration policy, with commentators saying ethnic differences have been fostered for many years.
Many social and ethnic leaders said the violence was primarily "gang warfare" and not purely race riots and that the youths involved felt economically and socially disadvantaged.
But some politicians laid the blame squarely on racism.
"We are just getting a sample of what happened in France a few months ago," said Labor opposition politician Harry Quick.
"We have reached a pressure cooker stage here. People of ethnic minority in Australia are just taking things into their own hands."
A violent gang rapist should have been given a lesser sentence partly because he was a "cultural time bomb" whose attacks were inevitable, as he had emigrated from a country with traditional views of women, his barrister has argued.Charge the father with perjury and jail him too. "They couldn't help themselves, they're muslims" is what the defense lawyer's plea amounts to.
MSK, who, with his three Pakistani brothers, raped several girls at their Ashfield family home over six months in 2002, was affected by "cultural conditioning … in the context of intoxification", Stephen Odgers, SC, told the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal yesterday.
MSK, 26, MAK, 25 and MMK, 19, are appealing against the severity of their sentences after they were found guilty of nine counts of aggravated sexual assault in company - a crime carrying a maximum penalty of life imprisonment - against two girls, aged 16 and 17, in July 2002.
MSK and MMK were jailed for 22 years, with a non-parole period of 16½ years, and 13 years, respectively, and MAK for 16 years (12 years non-parole).
Court orders prevent them being named. They are yet to be sentenced for other rapes.
Mr Odgers said "new evidence" showed MSK had a "mental disorder" at the time of the rapes and had stopped taking his medication - supplied by his father, a general practitioner.
He also said Justice Brian Sully had made a "clear error" in sentencing them to an extra six years on two counts, rather than one - referring to an act in which MMK withdrew his penis and took off the condom and then continued to rape one of the girls.
"It was the same victim, it occurred in the same location, there was no relevant difference in the nature of the act. The time gap between the offences was minimal," he said. Mr Odgers said a forensic psychologist, David Greenberg, had diagnosed MSK with "atypical compulsive obsessive disorder".
MSK said: "When I stopped taking medication, I never had any idea in my mind that I would be committing these problems. If anything happened, it would happen accidentally, but I was commanded to do these things."
After a special hearing, a judge concluded earlier this year that MSK was not mentally ill - the same conclusion reached by pre-sentence psychology reports in 2003.
Mr Odgers said the new evidence showed that he had a disease, which, combined with alcohol and the cultural conditioning of "a society with very traditional views of women", was "clearly a factor in the commissioning of these offences".
"The applicant was a cultural time bomb," Mr Odgers said. "It was almost inevitable that something like this would happen. His culpability is lessened because of that combination."
Professor Greenberg's report concluded the disorder did not lead MSK to commit the rapes. He also said he may be malingering.
The father, who said at the trials that he was with his sons on the night of the rapes, told the court he had diagnosed MSK with schizophrenia.
"He told me … Satan come to him and tell him different things. He told me that sometimes even the green grass whisper to him."
He refused to place his hand on the Koran when sworn in because he said he had not washed.
A spokesman for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Nicholas Cowdery, said he was unable to confirm whether the father would be charged with perjury over evidence he gave at the trials.
The appeal, funded by Legal Aid, follows their unsuccessful appeal against conviction, which failed when they took it to the High Court. The Court of Criminal Appeal has reserved its decision.
AUSTRALIA'S most radical Islamic group has defied John Howard by launching a provocative public campaign to persuade Muslims the 9/11 terror attacks were a massive US-inspired conspiracy.The Australian: 9/11 a US plot, newspaper claims
The latest edition of a new Islamic newspaper launched by fundamentalist Melbourne-based Sheik Mohammed Omran's Ahlus Sunnah Wal-Jamaah Association argues that a plane did not crash into the Pentagon in Washington in the September 11 attacks and that the story was instead a major hoax.
The contentious move by the group comes despite the Prime Minister calling for the nation's Islamic leaders to avoid making inflammatory comments about terrorism.
Sheik Omran was last month snubbed by Mr Howard, who did not invite him to the summit with Muslim leaders in Canberra.
The unprecedented public campaign by Sheik Omran's group comes on the eve of the fourth anniversary of the 2001 attacks in New York and Washington, which killed almost 3000 people.
The newspaper, called Mecca News, then promises that "in future editions we will uncover the rest of the questions which surround 9/11".
Using pictures to support its arguments, which include claims that there were no remains of a plane found inside the Pentagon, the paper accuses Australia of only now "catching up with the debate" about what really happened on September 11, 2001.
"It is not seen as 'patriotic' to challenge the widely accepted theory, however things are changing," the newspaper states.
The newspaper credits its editor-in-chief and founder, Sheik Omran, with "breaking the ice" by raising questions in Australia about who was responsible for 9/11.
Sheik Omran recently angered the Government and moderate Muslims by effectively proclaiming that Osama bin Laden was a good man and by questioning whether the London bombings in July were carried out by Muslims.
Sheik Omran has also angered moderate Muslim leaders by saying he believed the US, rather than bin Laden, was behind the 9/11 attacks.
This opinion - shared by many radical Muslims - comes despite bin Laden himself admitting involvement in 9/11 attacks in a video broadcast late in 2001, during which the al-Qa'ida leader expressed delight that the death toll had far exceeded his own expectations.