Australia: Controversial Sheik Taj Aldin al-Hilali steps down from Australian Muslim council
Rehin Ghauri, a senior Muslim leader from Western Australia state, said moderate Muslims would be glad to leave behind the friction of al-Hilali's 18-year tenure. ''Al-Hilali is very experienced, but he has caused some problems to the community,'' Ghauri said. ''I don't like his personality, I don't like his style ... pulling punches gets you nowhere, you bring controversy instead of friends.''
In September, al-Hilali blamed scantily clad women for tempting men to rape them, saying, ''If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside ... and the cats come to eat it ... whose fault is it?''
Al-Hilali apologized for the comment, but soon afterward caused further anger by saying Muslims have more right to live in Australia than the descendants of convicts.
Prime Minister John Howard then urged the national council of imams to fire al-Hilali, saying Muslim leaders were out of touch with the wishes of most Australians. Muslims are a minority of about 300,000 among Australia's mostly Christian population of more than 20 million, and relations between the two religions are sometimes tense.
June 10, 2007
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