Muslim cleric stood down over anti-Semitic comments

A Muslim cleric who gave what has been labelled hate speech in an online video has been permanently stood down.

New Zealand's Federation of Islamic Associations said the action against Manukau's Shaykh Dr Mohammad Anwar Sahib is effective immediately.

The Federation said it vehemently opposes all teachings that promote intolerance, prejudice and discrimination.

It said it is aware of complaints being laid with the Human Rights Commission.

The Human Rights Commission earlier said speeches allegedly given by Sahib were appalling and had no place in New Zealand.

"We live in one of the most ethnically diverse nations on Earth as well as one of the most peaceful: this is because we are a tolerant nation," said Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy in response to a video that emerged online of a Sahib giving what has been labelled an anti-Semitic hate speech.

"This kind of intolerance is not welcome here in any form: prejudice against Jewish people has no place in New Zealand," Devoy said.

Videos of speeches delivered by Sahib at the Manukau mosque have been widely viewed online.

But he hit back at the criticism yesterday, saying he was taken out of context and preaches for peace and harmony in society.

Sahib was shown in a series of lectures recorded at a Manukau mosque and posted on social media vilifying Jewish and Christian communities.

But he said he had been misrepresented as a scholar of Islam and his lectures, if watched in their entirety, would show he was simply discussing history.

Sahib said those who had watched the videos would find he had not incited hatred towards others, nor asked anyone to attack or harm anyone.

"Sadly and falsely, I have been accused of giving hate speeches and being anti-Semitic," he said.

"I wish to make it absolutely that I do not hate any human being regardless of their faith, place of origin, race, colour and political affiliation."

The Administration Council of the Islamic Women's Council described Sahib's comments as "totally inappropriate".

"We unequivocally condemn any divisive comments of a similar nature. While we may disagree with aspects of Jewish theology, and may have political disagreements, we see the Jewish people as closely connected to us through the Abrahamic tradition," a spokesperson said.

"The Prophet Muhammad had good relationships with his Jewish neighbours and encouraged Muslims to do the same. We are permitted to eat their kosher food, and we offer them our respect. We regularly extend our hand in friendship to the Jewish community in New Zealand, and will continue to do so."

Representatives of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in New Zealand have said they strongly condemn any anti-Semitic hate speech, and say any Muslim cleric who expresses hate-filled views about other faiths or their followers must be condemned.

"Islam teaches respect, tolerance and love for all people regardless of faith, colour or background. The Prophet Muhammad championed the protection of other faiths and their rights to practice their belief," said community president Bashir Khan.

"I never like it when people try to limit their sympathy and love to their own people. I admonish you again and again to never ever limit the scope of your compassion."

- Additional reporting: Newstalk ZB

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf03 at 25 May 2017 10:45:16 Processing Time: 610ms