Detectives are examining the sermon given by Sheikh Sharif Hussein, who has previously been visited by the intelligence services, in which he described Australian soldiers as “Crusader pigs”.
In the video clip, published online this week by the US-based Middle East Media Research Institute, the preacher attacked Jews, former Prime Minister John Howard and US President Barack Obama.
In his sermon, believed to have been filmed in March, the Sheikh – a leading member of the Adelaide Islamic community – also told more than two dozen followers that Muslims were being raped and slaughtered around the world.
Amid a storm of condemnation today after his speech was first reported by The Advertiser, police confirmed they had launched an investigation following a complaint from Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi.
A South Australia Police spokesman confirmed officers had “received a complaint about this video and are investigating the matter”.
He said: “The YouTube clip is an edited version of a longer sermon. Police will examine the entire content of the sermon to gain the full context and determine whether any crime has been committed.”
Friends of the preacher insisted that the video was heavily edited and that he did not believe he had committed any crimes.
Sheikh Hussein declined requests to comment.
His activities have been under surveillance by ASIO and the Australian Federal Police for several years.
In 2007, the Federal Government blocked $250,000 in Saudi Arabian funding for a mosque where Sheikh Hussein regularly preached on Marion Rd, Park Holme.
The money was stopped amid “security concerns” about one individual at the mosque and followed the arrest of a former mosque member in Iraq for allegedly conspiring to commit terrorism.
Today Islamic leaders distanced themselves from Shiekh Hussein’s sermon, believed to have been delivered at the Islamic Da’wah Centre of South Australia, in Torrensville, in Adelaide’s west.
Dr Waleed Alkhazrajy, an Islamic Society of South Australia spokesman, admitted the comments were disturbing.
“The Islamic Society of South Australia and the Muslim community of South Australia represent a peaceful multicultural sector contributing to the wonderful and varied fabric of the wider Australian community,” he said.
“[We] will take this opportunity, however, to reiterate that the Islamic community of South Australia will oppose any document verbal or written that will go against the best interest of the Australian community of which we are proud to be an essential component.”
“The Australian participation in the Crusaders’ war on Iraq is 6 per cent. This is out of approximately 365,000 Crusader pigs sent to Iraq, during the term of (Mr Howard), Allah’s wrath be upon him,” he says.
“Listen, oh Obama, oh enemy of Allah, you who kiss the shoes and feet of the Jews. Listen! The day will come when you are trampled upon by the pure feet of the Muslims.
“Oh Allah, count the Buddhists and the Hindus one by one. Oh Allah, count them and kill them to the very last one.”
The Advertiser has confirmed the translation of Sheikh Hussein’s speech with independent translators.
Sheikh Hussein is known in Adelaide’s Islamic community.
Their website contains clips of other speeches and the disclaimer that “the views expressed in our videos and lectures are the speaker’s own and do not necessarily reflect IDCSA’s management or media policy”.
His comments were quickly condemned as “ravings” and “hate speech”.
Multicultural Affairs Minister Jennifer Rankine said they were “the ravings of someone completely out of touch with the views of South Australians”.
“His disgusting words are not representative of our diverse and multicultural community,” she said.
Senator Bernardi slammed the comments as “very disturbing” and called on the Muslim community to denounce them.
“This video and transcript suggest that we can no longer afford to ignore these radical elements within our community and say they don’t exist here because clearly they do,” he said.
“This hate speech has no place in our society and it needs to be publicly condemned by all Australians including members of the Muslim community.”
City councillor and Muslim Houssam Abiad said Muslims owed their allegiance to Australia and Islam was “a religion of peace and tolerance” that taught believers to respect a country’s laws.
“Many have migrated to Australia escaping war and political persecution, unfortunately some people also packed in their bags many ideologies representative of their experiences and brought them with them,” he said.
“As an Australian Muslim … I have survived a war and I recognise that Australia has given me opportunities that will never be equal to any other in the world, and we should owe our allegiance to this country and what it has given us.”
In response to Sheikh Hussein’s comments, the management committee of the Islamic Society of South Australia said it wanted to remind everyone that it was difficult to comment on “edited materials without dates or any other specifics relating to the actual material”.
“The Islamic Society of South Australia and the Muslim community of South Australia represent a peaceful multicultural sector contributing to the wonderful and varied fabric of the wider Australian community,” it said in a media release.
“It must be noted that Islam’s overwhelming message is that of peace.
“The Islamic Society of South Australia would therefore NOT support any comments made either locally, nationally or internationally, which are not in accordance with this message.”