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Ethnic groups push to boost race hate laws


By: Anthony Klan

Six ethnic and cultural groups, including key representatives of the Chinese, Indian and Greek communities, have joined the NSW Jewish umbrella body in calling for race hate laws to be tightened. The Australian Hellenic Council of NSW, Assyrian Universal Alliance and the National Sikh Council of Australia have also joined the push, sparked by a failure by authorities to act over a ­racial tirade by the local head of ­Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir.

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive Vic Alhadeff led the push after a video surfaced this year of Ismail al-Wahwah delivering a sermon calling for Muslims to engage in jihad to the world of Jewish hidden evil.

The president of the Federation of Indian Associations of NSW, Yadu Singh, said the speech by Mr Wahwah was highly unacceptable and he was in total support of tightening section 20D of the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act.

We cannot have a decent society where some people advocate and encourage others to harm certain groups based on religion, ethnicity or race, he said. I want the rules to be reviewed and proper laws implemented so activities inciting violence based on race is clearly a criminal offence and not allowed.

The state's Anti-Discrimination Board ruled the comments a serious breach of hate laws, but neither police nor the Department of Public Prosecutions acted, citing weaknesses in the law. It was the 31st consecutive time authorities failed to act since race-hate laws were introduced in 1989.

In 2013, a NSW parliamentary committee on race hate laws made 15 recommendations to improve the laws, but the government has failed to take any action. A member of that committee, Chinese Community Council nat­ional president Tony Pun, said he wanted the act reviewed. We in the community would feel much safer if it were revised, he said.

Dr Pun also chairs the Multicultural Communities Coun­cil, which has also joined the push. 

NSW Attorney-General Gabriel Upton has been heavily criticised for her failure to improve the law. Her office said it was reviewing the recommendations but declined to comment further.

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