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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 January 2007, 11:22 GMT
Fury at Australia cleric comments
A Muslim worshipper arrives at a mosque in Sydney draped in the Australian flag on 3/11/06
Inter-faith relations have been strained by the remarks
The Australian government has condemned a Muslim cleric for making offensive comments in videotaped lectures.

Sheikh Feiz Mohammed, head of the Global Islamic Youth Centre in Sydney, urged children to become martyrs for Islam and mocked Jewish people as pigs.

Police are said to be investigating the tapes, which were exposed in a British TV documentary earlier this week.

Top Australian Islamic cleric Sheikh Hilali also sparked controversy, with remarks on women and white Australians.

Sheikh Feiz Mohammed, who has spent the past year living in Lebanon, talks on the controversial videotapes of his desire for children to be offered "as soldiers defending Islam".

"Teach them this," he says, "that there is nothing more beloved to me than wanting to die as a Muhajid.

"Put in their soft, tender heart the zeal of jihad and the love of martyrdom."

He also ridicules Jewish people as pigs and makes snorting noises, saying they will go to hell.

His comments were shown on a British television documentary called Undercover Mosque, which says it found children selling Islamic tapes in a car park behind a UK mosque.

Convicts jibe

Australia's acting attorney-general Kevin Andrews described Sheikh Feiz Mohammed's comments as "offensive, unacceptable and outrageous".

Leader of the opposition Labor party, Kevin Rudd, said the sheikh should not return to Australia.

Sheikh Hilali with flowers outside his mosque in Sydney in November 2006
Born in Egypt
Aged 64
Imam in Sydney
Appointed mufti of Australia in 1989

"These are appalling statements and they have no place in Australia," he said.

The federal police said they were investigating whether the cleric had breached anti-terrorism laws and incited acts of violence, according to Australian media reports.

Australia's Islamic Friendship Association president, Keysar Trad, said the remarks did not reflect the views of the wider Muslim community.

"They certainly give the public an erroneous impression about Islam and Muslims," he said.

The latest controversy follows a furore over comments by Australia's top Muslim cleric last year.

Sheikh Taj el-Din al-Hilali caused a storm of protest after comparing scantily-dressed women to "uncovered meat", comments he said were taken out of context.

He hit the headlines again recently when he told Egyptian television that Muslim Australians had more rights to the country than white Australians whose ancestors arrived as convicts.

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Excerpts of al-Hilali's speech
27 Oct 06 |  Asia-Pacific

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