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Leader of Hizb ut-Tahrir ‘committed serious breach of race law’




THE AUSTRALIAN APRIL 08, 2015 12:00AM

By Anthony Klan

The NSW Anti-Discrimination Board has forwarded the findings of its investigation into anti-­Jewish statements made by the head of Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir to the state Attorney-General, suggesting a “serious breach” of race-hate laws has been found to have occurred.

Last month, the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies lodged a complaint against Hizb ut-Tahrir’s top Australian cleric, Ismail al-Wahwah, after a video emerged of the cleric fronting a crowd and calling on Muslims to “rid” the world of Jewish “hidden evil”, among other racist taunts.

In July last year Mr Wahwah told followers “Judgment Day” would not come “until the Muslims fight the Jews” and that ­“tomorrow you Jews will see what will become of you — an eye for an eye, blood for blood, destruction for destruction”.

Under NSW law, the Anti-­Discrimination Board must make a determination within 28 days — the deadline was Monday — on whether race-hate laws have been broken.

If the board decides a criminal, “serious breach” of discrimination laws has occurred, it requests the Attorney-General to launch criminal action.

If a lesser “unlawful” breach has occurred, the matter remains with the Anti-Discrimination Board, which can hold a “mediation session” between the parties.

Anti-Discrimination Board president Stepan Kerkyasharian said he was unable to comment ­directly on the board’s findings but the matter was now “with the ­Attorney-General” and the board had fulfilled all its legal obli­gations. Mr Kerkyasharian said the Anti-Discrimination Board was obligated, “within the next one or two days”, to inform the Jewish Board of Deputies of its decision and ask whether that ­organisation would seek to launch civil action alongside the recommended criminal proceedings.

The Jewish Board of Deputies, as the original complainant, has 25 days to decide whether it wants to take civil action, which could allow it to claim compensation.

“In the case of a serious breach, the matter goes to the Attorney-General.

“I must notify the complainant that I have done so, and tell them that if the Attorney-General ­approves, the matter will be dealt with as a criminal manner, which means no damages or ­compensation for the complainant,” Mr Kerkyasharian said.

Incoming NSW Attorney- General Gabrielle Upton declined to comment yesterday.

A Hizb ut-Tahrir spokesman declined to comment as the “case is ongoing”.

The penalty for breaching section 20D of the relevant act, the Anti-Discrimination Act, is six months’ imprisonment or a fine of up to $5500, or both.

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies president Jeremy Spinak said the referral of the complaint to the A-G’s office was “welcome”.

“We understand that our complaint has been referred by the chair of the Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW to the Attorney-General for further investigation, and this would be a welcome ­development,” Mr Spinak said.

“There is no place in Australian society for hate-speech of the kind engaged in by representatives of Hizb ut-Tahrir.

“We trust that a decision to prosecute will be made as soon as practicable.”


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