The Muslim community are concerned an anti-Islam group is inciting hatred against them with racist Facebook posts.
Community members say the far-right wing group, Australian Defence League – Soldiers, has been spreading hate and instigating vicious Facebook fights with inflammatory posts. The group similar to Britain First in the UK, aims to ban Islam from Australia.
Malek Sleiman said she was disgusted when the ADL posted Facebook photos of her daughter and husband, Ramsey Elhouli. “It was very upsetting,” she said. “For them to target my daughter like that, it was disgusting.”
The post: “I would like everyone to meet Ramsey. He has a very interesting profile picture of his daughter worshipping a pedophile (sic) while his other picture is of him holding a gun. And Yes you guest (sic) it this is the sort of terrorist scum that are on our streets right here in Sydney Australia. Please share and make this guy famous.”
The ADL published the post after Mr Elhoui retaliated to a previous status update made by the group in which he called the ADL “terrorists” for “going around bashing Muslim women”. ADL encouraged their followers to share the post to “make this guy famous”.
Mr Elhoui’s profile picture was taken on a duck hunting trip in 2013.
Ms Sleiman said she had reported the post to Facebook numerous times but the status has not been removed.
Earlier this month news.com.au reported that ADL President Ralph Cerminara had warned that “another Cronulla is coming” in a YouTube video.
Ms Sleiman said that most of the ADL’s members lacked a proper understanding of Islam. “Islam is actually a very peaceful and calming religion,” she said. “We don’t support ISIS, we don’t support terrorists.”
A woman who was targeted by the ADL in April said her life had been changed forever. An ADL member took a photo of the women on her way to work and posted it to the Facebook page with accompanying caption “Are you having problems getting a man? Then join Islam, taking the world’s rejects, pedophiles and weak-minded people for thousands of years.” The women was then ridiculed and abused by the group’s supporters.
The women, who has chosen to remain anonymous, has had to go on stress leave and visit psychologists since her traumatic ordeal. “I was having panic attacks, hyperventilating, I get anxiety,” she said. “I don’t like to go out, I don’t like to go to parties or engagements or weddings because in my community everyone knew who I was and it’s just embarrassing and humiliating. I’m never going to be the same.”
The woman said she would like to see the ADL investigated.
“They’re creating division and racism and saying that we’re the ones who are racist and don’t want to live the Australian way but they’re doing the exact opposite,” she said. “They’re doing what they’re saying we’re doing and it doesn’t make sense. The thing that worries me is that these people blatantly make death threats on their page against Muslims and yet the police don’t do anything about it.”
Despite her emotional pain, the women said she decided to try and turn the situation into a positive. She discussed the situation with community groups and went on Muslim radio to appeal for calm and asked the public not to retaliate.
Last night the ADL Soldiers Facebook page posted screenshots of abuse and threats made against its members.
Research fellow at Curtin University in Perth, Dr Anne Aly questioned Australian Justice Minister Michael Keenan about the ADL Soldiers on Monday night’s Q and A program. Mr Keenan said the Government would act upon any group who threatened the community.
“If there was a group that we knew were about to go and randomly kill Australian citizens no matter who they are we would take action,” he said. “We don’t apply the law based on people’s background, we apply it based on what we would see, or what we would understand to be a threat to the Australian community. The Australian Government does not target sections of the Australian community.”