No Action Against Sydney Hate Preacher After Latest Sermon

20 June 2024

2.7 MINS

Police have said they are unable to lay charges against a radical Sydney cleric who warned of violence and “men who love death” if Islam was attacked, saying legal advice had determined that the threats didn’t constitute a criminal offence.

NSW Police have confirmed that a Friday sermon by Bankstown-based cleric Abu Ousayd – also known as Wissam Haddad – that promised “humiliation” and “men who love death” if Allah was attacked, did not breach state hate-speech provisions.

“If you attack Allah, if you attack our prophet, our religion and our fellow brothers and sisters, and if you attack our lands, you are going to be met with men who love death more than you love life,” he said, calling on followers to be “worshippers by night and warriors by day.”

A police spokesman confirmed the rhetoric was not a criminal offence. “At this time, review of the sermon and legal advice indicate that the content does not amount to an offence under Section 93Z of the Crimes Act 1900,” he said.

Mr Ousayd’s sermon said that Muslims were “being killed, oppressed, at the hands of the worshippers of cows, rats and monkeys”.

“If you abandon jihad, Allah will send upon you humiliation and he will not remove it,” he said.

Jews’ Complaint

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) has lodged a vilification complaint against Mr Ousayd and the Al Madina Dawah Centre at the Australian Human Rights Commission, with its co-CEO Alex Ryvchin warning inaction risked “legitimising” the preacher’s comments.

“These sermons that reach devoted followers and impressionable young minds online are not merely a threat to the Jewish community, but also to our democracy and our society,” he said.

“The fact that no one has been successfully prosecuted under existing laws despite the regularity of vicious sermons since the October 7 attacks shows the system isn’t working and requires comprehensive reform.”

Since November, Mr Ousayd has given a raft of anti-Semitic sermons at his Al Madina Dawah Centre. He has referred to Jews as “descendants of pigs and monkeys” and peddled anti-Semitic tropes.

He has urged people to spit on Israel so “Jews would drown” and recited parables about their killing. He is also a principal of an Islamic Saturday school and runs a registered charity.

Woeful Inaction

NSW Upper House Deputy President Rod Roberts said he felt the “frustration” of the Jewish community and that the “system was letting them down”.

“That’s what’s disappointing, that they have to take action, rather than the law protecting them,” the MP said, saying inaction would give hate the green light. “It’s obvious Mr Ousayd knows he can exploit the weak legislation.”

Federal Opposition home affairs spokesman James Paterson said the authorities should “stop going through the charade” of considering charges if it had no intention of doing so.

“It appears no conduct is bad enough to warrant testing the law,” the senator said. “If federal prosecutors also can’t bother to mount a case, it’s time the Albanese government stepped in and changed the law before any more hatred is fomented in our community.”

Under Review

NSW Premier Minns said his government was waiting on a report into 93Z and were looking at “potential law changes”, but that any amendments that impeded on free speech had to be “consistent with experts”.

“Anyone that’s looking to tear at the seams of social harmony and cohesion is doing a massive disservice to our community,” he said. “We want to make sure that any potential legal changes are based on the evidence from experts.”

Section 93Z is being examined as part of a Law Reform Commission review and it is difficult to lay charges under the provision, unless it involves a specific threat, and that incitement could be proven.

In Scotland, parliament passed laws making “threatening or abusive behaviour which is intended to stir up hatred”, on the grounds of religion, an offence. The ECAJ pointed to a lack of similar wording in Australian criminal codes.

“On past experience, a criminal offence based on the idea of ‘stirring up’ hatred could be difficult to prosecute, because there would need to be evidence in each case of the likely impact of the words used on an audience,” co-CEO Peter Wertheim, a 30-year lawyer, said.


Republished with thanks to the Australian Prayer Network. Image courtesy of Adobe.

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