22 August 2013

Girl holding sign at protest Director of the International Centre for Muslim and non-Muslim Understanding Professor Pal Ahluwalia from the University of South Australia has slammed the preaching of former Adelaide Sheikh Sharif Hussein as completely unrepresentative of Islamic teachings.

“The radical views of an individual should never be seen as representative of the many,” Prof Ahluwalia says.

“The Sheikh has done his Muslim brothers and sisters no favours by preaching hate.

“Extremism in all of its forms is the natural enemy of truth – so every time this kind of extreme preaching makes headlines it obscures the reality of the strong, ethical, law-abiding, engaged and contributing Muslim Australians who are our neighbours and work colleagues, our class mates and friends.

“There are extreme groups across all religions and cultures and there are individuals who advocate violence and aggression for their own agendas.

“What people must remember is that just as Geert Wilders is not representative of all Dutch people or the Army of God does not speak for all Christians, so the extreme rants of one Sheikh do not reflect the views of all Muslims.”

Prof Ahluwalia says it was only through knowledge and education that real understanding can be achieved.

“The International Centre for Muslim and non-Muslim Understanding is dedicated to researching the issues, the politics and the sociological factors that reinforce a divide between Muslims and non-Muslim people,” he says.

“That research, scholarship and analysis helps to lay bare prejudice, factual errors and interpretations so that issues can be seen with a more complete perspective and one that is not biased by misinformation.”

In 2008 in his special visit to announce the establishment of the Centre, former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke said it would contribute to the “abolition of prejudice and misinformation”.

He said he had been led to suggest the creation of such a centre by the potential impact of fanaticism on global stability and by the intolerable way innocent people were being treated because of the fanaticism of a few.

Prof Ahluwalia says strong support from both the State and Federal Governments for the Centre underpinned its role to lead a path to better understanding across cultures.

“As former Prime Minister Bob Hawke so clearly stated, ‘Muslims have no monopoly on fanaticism’ and one of our roles at the Centre is to challenge fanatical views wherever they surface in our community by building and communicating knowledge,” Prof Ahluwalia says.

Media contact: Michèle Nardelli office: 08 8302 0966 mobile: 0418 823 673 email: Michele.nardelli@unisa.edu.au

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