Muslim group refuses to condemn rioters

THE Australian branch of the political group Hizb ut-Tahrir has denied any involvement in Saturday's riot in Sydney, but declined to join the many other Muslim groups condemning the actions of violent protesters.

The Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, accused the group of nurturing ''preachers of hate'' and said the federal government should revoke the visa of Taji Mustafa, a British activist and speaker who addressed the Hizb ut-Tahrir group's annual conference in Bankstown yesterday.

In a speech in Sydney on Friday, Mr Mustafa said Australian Muslims should be ''peaceful'' in their protests against the YouTube clip that derided Islamic beliefs, but also said they should ''kick out'' the US ambassador.

''Yes they shouldn't go and kill him but we should demand that they kick out the US ambassador,'' Mr Mustafa said in the speech.

''If you insult Anzac Day they're going to get angry with you; they get angry when you insult what's dear to them. So we want to explain to them, to let them understand that this is dear to us,'' he said.

The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, said she would not be revoking Mr Mustafa's visa and Hizb ut-Tahrir was not on the government's list of proscribed terrorist groups. ''We have very tight laws on people who urge violence and very tight laws on people who incite terrorism,'' Ms Gillard said.

A spokeswoman for the Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, said the former attorney-general Philip Ruddock had rejected calls in 2007 for the group to be banned. As with any visa applicant, Mr Mustafa would have been assessed on character and public interest criteria according to migration law, the spokeswoman said. Any accusations of inciting violence or terrorism would be investigated.

Mr Abbott said: ''This particular organisation, Hizb ut-Tahrir, has been preaching hatred for some years now.''

He said he had not read any of Mr Mustafa's writings, but had received briefings on the topic.

''They have been regularly on the record calling for the destruction of Israel. Some of their leaders have been on the record calling for violence against Australian troops in Afghanistan,'' he said. ''I don't think we need the preachers of hate in this country.''

A spokesman for the Australian branch of Hizb ut-Tahrir, which is a global Islamic political movement, said that while it does not condone violent protests it does not agree with Islamic leaders condemning those involved.

''I think everyone condemning it is not going to do anything - let's talk about the real issues,'' said the group's spokesman, Uthman Badar.

''This is not just about a random film that happens to erupt the entire Muslim world. That's a bit superficial. It's a trigger that brings to the fore deep-seated tensions between Muslims and the West.'' In his speech on Friday, Mr Mustafa said Muslims should respond to the YouTube clip being blamed for the global protests in a ''vocal'' but ''peaceful'' manner.

A spokesman for YouTube said the offensive film trailer - called Innocence of Muslims - had been taken down in some countries but would not be taken down altogether.

with David Wroe and Dan Harrison

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The story Muslim group refuses to condemn rioters first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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