Country's Mufti Takes a Stand Against Extremism

July 21, 2004

Source: The Christian Science Monitor

On July 21, 2004 The Christian Science Monitor reported, "As often as he can find time, Australia's senior Muslim cleric, or 'Mufti,' takes a religious journey of sorts to a Sydney dump. With him he brings handfuls of pamphlets, fliers, and books filled with Islamist messages and personally disposes of them. As head of a popular mosque in Sydney's suburbs, Sheikh Taj Din Al Hilaly has lately been on a mission to steer the younger generation of Australian Muslims growing up in the shadow of Sept. 11 away from what he believes is the biggest danger to his community: fundamentalist literature. To set an example, he has taken it upon himself to gather the inflammatory writings from wherever he can - sometimes from neighbors, sometimes from shops, and many times from his own mail box. 'It's so easily available and often these pamphlets are left on your doorstep,' says the affable man of Egyptian origin, speaking through an interpreter in his vast book-lined office, which prominently displays both the Islamic and the Australian flags. 'There is no other way of getting rid of this stuff. Otherwise, it keeps coming back into circulation - it's like nuisance junk mail, but more dangerous.' The Mufti represents what many in the West have yearned to see: A moderate Muslim willing to aggressively fight extremism. But some in his community feel that he has overstepped his authority, and deny that his voice speaks for Australia's Muslims."