NSW Police Force has told a State Parliament hearing that a Hizb ut-Tahrir rally in Lakemba – where protestors chanted offensive statements including “destroy the Jews” and “give us the necks of the Jews” – had been referred to its terrorism intelligence unit for assessment and “allocated” to the Fixated Persons’ Unit for further investigation.
October 31, 2021
This evidence was presented by Mark Walton – NSW Police Force Assistant Commissioner, Investigations and Counter-Terrorism – at a NSW Police Force Budget Estimates on Friday.
It was in response to a series of questions from Shadow Minister for Police and Counter Terrorism, Walt Secord about the NSW Police Force response to the Hizb ut-Tahrir rally.
Mr Walton told the hearing that the NSW Police Force had also referred to matter to the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for consideration under Section 93Z of the NSW Crimes Act.
Mr Secord said while it is an offence for a person or group to incite or threaten violence on grounds of race, religion or sexual orientation, proceedings can only commence with the approval of the DPP and there has never been a conviction in NSW under Section 93Z.
Mr Walton told the parliamentary hearing that the rally took place in May and the offensive comments were uploaded to a youtube channel in October.
Mr Walton said that there was “a preacher (who) makes offensive statements about the Jewish community”.
He added that Hizb ut-Tahrir was “not well regarded” by the mainstream Islamic leadership and NSW Police Force had met with leaders about the rally who have “denounced” the comments.
Mr Secord, who is also deputy chair of the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel has been at the forefront of calling on the Perrottet and Morrison governments to take action against Hizb ut-Tahrir and other extremist groups in NSW and Australia. Mr Secord has repeated his call for further action against Hizb ut-Tahrir.
Earlier this month (October 20) Mr Secord wrote to the NSW Police Minister, the NSW Attorney-General and the NSW Minister for Multiculturalism asking what the Perrottet government is doing about this deeply offensive group and what steps it is taking to stop their incitement to hatred towards the Jewish community.
At the time, he said: “I never thought I’d see the day when Australian and NSW authorities would tolerate extreme radicals spewing hate on suburban streets. This is not free speech; this is hate speech.”
“The speeches were appalling and have no place on our streets. Initially, when I saw the footage I was offended. But when I realised that it was recorded here in Australia, I was sickened.
“It is time the State and Federal governments got serious about tackling hate speech and those spreading this cancer. Hizb ut-Tahrir is banned in Indonesia, Turkey, Egypt and Germany – but not Australia; that is mind-boggling.”
The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council recommended early this year that the federal government consider an amendment to the Crimes Act to explicitly prohibit violence, incitement or the glorification of violence against a racial or religious group. This will assist in providing a legal remedy for groups and individuals that seek to harm Australians but fall short of the legislative threshold for proscription. While this recommendation is presented in the context of Sunni Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir, it also applies to extremism across the board.
AIJAC recommends the Government develop a new national anti-extremism strategy to counter extremism in Australian society, including from groups like Hizb ut-Tahrir.
AIJAC has also argued in a submission that the Government should consider listing HT as a terrorist group in Australia.
Founded in 1953, HT is a pan-Islamic fundamentalist movement with branches in more than 50 countries, including Australia. The movement calls for the re-establishment of a global Muslim Caliphate based on Islamic religious law (Sharia) while rejecting the integration of Muslims into non-Muslim societies. The movement is banned in Indonesia, Germany, Russia, China, Pakistan and most Arab countries.
Ismai’l Al-Wahwah (Abu Anas) is the leader of HT’s Australian branch, which has hundreds of active members and many more followers. On social media, in mosques and in public gatherings, Al-Wahwah and other HT Australia members openly promote violence and war, spread misinformation, antisemitism and conspiracy theories, call for the destruction of the State of Israel and the murder of Jews and engage in Holocaust denial. Using a variety of channels and methods, HT Australia spreads hatred and misinformation, and urges the use of violence, terror and war, specifically targeting Jews, as the submission noted.
CEO of The New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies Darren Bark told J-Wire: “The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies has referred the video and statements from Hizb ut-Tahrir in Australia to the NSW Police Force.
Alongside our partners in the Keep NSW Safe coalition, we will continue to ensure hate speech like is not tolerated on our streets – whether it is aimed at the Jewish community, or anyone else.”