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Build Me a Mosque

Now this is a splurge:

An offshore bank account has been established by supporters of one of Australia’s most hardline Islamic clerics to raise donations in Saudi Arabia to help pay for a $2.65 million mosque in southwestern Sydney.

Supporters of Sheikh Abdul Salam Mohammed Zoud are trying to raise the funds before next month’s settlement date on the property, which is near their existing small prayer hall in Lakemba.

Fair enough, you say? Why shouldn’t a group of peaceful Muslims be allowed to raise funds for a place of prayer?

Monitored by ASIO, the prayer hall has been at the centre of controversy. Members of its congregation include alleged terrorism suspect Faheem Khalid Lodhi, charged with preparing a terrorist attack and recruiting for a terrorism group in Sydney and Pakistan.

Sheikh Zoud married French terror suspect Willie Brigitte to Australian Melanie Brown at the hall before the Frenchman’s deportation last October. Other members include Bilal Khazal, charged last week with allegedly publishing terrorist material and whose release on bail triggered criticism by Attorney-General Philip Ruddock.

It is unclear if the hall will close and its growing congregation move to the larger, unused mosque in Belmore when the purchase is settled.

Sheikh Zoud – who refuses to comment on the mosque purchase – is among clerics teaching a fundamentalist form of Islam called Salafi.

Sounds like quite a cast of characters. And being the suspected terrorists that they are, they are singing the usual song.

Supporters bought the mosque and two adjoining properties before it went to auction in May with deadline for settlement at the end of July.

They have since been appealing to wealthy Saudis to donate to its purchase, claiming Jewish and Buddhist communities were keen to take it over.

But this last claim has been challenged from an unlikely source:

Australia’s leading Islamic cleric has weighed into the fundraising campaign, warning Saudis against such donations. Sheikh Taj Din al-Hilali has told Saudi media that the mosque is expensive and unnecessary.

“No Buddhist or Jewish group competed to own it, in any shape or form. Spreading such allegations is only to arouse emotions and to blackmail in order to win over the emotions of Muslims,” he told one newspaper.

Sounds like he is accusing supporters of the mosque of lying. And if anyone knows about lying, it is Sheikh Taj Din al-Hilali.

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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