David Gray  /  Reuters
A young boy prays with his father and other Muslims during midday prayers at Sydney's Lakemba Mosque in October.
updated 1/19/2007 6:46:53 AM ET 2007-01-19T11:46:53

An Australian Muslim cleric has urged children to be martyrs for Islam and referred to Jews as pigs in a series of DVDs, sparking condemnation by the government and further straining tensions with the nation’s Muslims.

Sheik Feiz Mohammed, head of the Global Islamic Youth Center in Sydney’s western suburbs, is the second cleric to inflame anti-Muslim sentiment in Australia with controversial comments.

Sheikh Taj El-Din Hilaly, the imam of Australia’s biggest mosque, was accused of justifying rape in November after a Ramadan sermon in which he said unveiled women were like uncovered meat.

Australian media said Feiz has lived in Lebanon for the past year and that his “Death Series” DVDs were made public by a British documentary this week called “Undercover Mosque”.

“We want to have children and offer them as soldiers defending Islam,” said Feiz in the video, reported Sydney’s Daily Telegraph newspaper.

“Teach them this: There is nothing more beloved to me than wanting to die as a mujahid. Put in their soft, tender hearts the zeal of jihad and a love of martyrdom,” he said.

The paper also said Feiz had insulted Jews, referring to them as pigs.

Feiz has a series of video clips on www.youtube.com in which he also calls for jihad and praises martyrdom.

The Australian government and ethnic leaders, including Muslims, condemned Feiz’s comments on Thursday.

“The importation of hatred into Australia is totally unacceptable,” acting Attorney-General Kevin Andrews told reporters. “These remarks and the others before them are condemned by the government.”

'Hate speech' condemned
Australia’s ethnic leaders called for Feiz to face possible racial hatred charged for his speeches, which were published in part by Australian newspapers on Thursday.

“Hate speech such as these remarks by Sheik Mohammed has no place in Australian society and must be vigorously condemned by all,” said Vic Alhadeff, chief executive of Jewish Board of Deputies in the state of New South Wales.

Community Relations Commission chairman Stepan Kerkyasharian called for the sheik to face possible race hate charges.

Tim Wimborne  /  Reuters file
Australia's top Muslim cleric Sheik Taj El-Din Hilaly, seen here at a protest against Israel in Sydney in July, came under fire in October after he compared women who do not wear a headscarf to uncovered meat and hinted they are to blame for sexual assaults.
“The federal prosecutor should really have a close look at what is being conveyed by this guy and whether it is in breach of any laws and he should be charged,” Kerkyasharian told radio.

Islamic Friendship Association spokesman Kaysar Trad said the comments did not reflect the sentiments of Australian Muslims.

“As a community, it is quite disconcerting for us that these comments are found from time to time and they’re broadcast all over the news,” said Trad. “They certainly give the public an erroneous impression about Islam and Muslims.”

Last week Hilaly, who left Australia for the Middle East after his controversial remarks, told Egyptian television that white Australians were liars and that Muslims were more entitled to be in Australia than those with a convict heritage.

Muslims have been in Australia for more than 200 years, initially arriving as camel drivers to help open up the vast outback. Today there are about 280,000 Muslims in the 20 million population, living predominately in Sydney and Melbourne.

“We have had repeated remarks made by the most senior Islamic cleric in Australia. We have these latest remarks. There is this pattern of behavior which is very concerning to the government,” said Andrews.

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