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Last Updated: Friday, 27 October 2006, 10:36 GMT 11:36 UK
Australian press rejects cleric's apology
Sheikh Taj el-Din al-Hilali
Sheikh Hilali says his comments were taken out of context

Australia's papers are dismissive of Sheikh Hilali's apology for remarks in which he compared immodestly dressed women to "uncovered meat".

Several commentators say his expressions of regret do not go far enough, and call on Australia's Muslim community to take tougher action against the cleric.

One paper argues that Sheikh Hilali should be stripped of any office that allows him to speak on behalf of the country's Muslims, and another suggests he might consider moving somewhere where his views do not seem so out of place.

THE AGE

The sheikh has since said he was misrepresented; that his sermon was about "adultery and theft", and that he was referring only to prostitutes as "meat". This inadequate excuse does nothing to repair the reverberating emotional and moral damage his remarks have caused.

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH

True to form, the sheikh offered some sort of half-baked apology, saying he had not meant to give offence, people should not misunderstand and his English is not so good. Pish! Here's the truth about the sheikh. He's a buffoon and he's pig-ignorant. Get that translated, sheikh. And just so you know, your apology is not accepted.

THE AUSTRALIAN

All of these comments and many more which were part of the sermon are completely beyond the pale of acceptable speech and demonstrate that there are limits to how tolerant a society can be... Hearteningly and with few exceptions, Australia's Muslims seem to agree that Sheikh Hilali's comments were vile... The time has come for the sheikh to be stripped of any and all offices that suggest that he in any way speaks for Australia's 300,000 Muslims.

ABDULLAH SAEED IN THE AUSTRALIAN

Practices and beliefs in certain Muslim countries that discriminate against women have no place in Australia. They should not be used to guide the local Muslim community... At a time when the Muslim community is under the microscope, the last thing Australian Muslims need from any of their leaders is another unwarranted, unjustified and degrading comment about women.

IRFAN YUSUF IN THE DAILY TELEGRAPH

The latest Hilali gaffe illustrates the widespread misogyny that exists among Muslim religious leaders... He must first apologise to women and men of all persuasions. Anything less than a complete apology would be unacceptable.

PAUL SHEEHAN IN THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

Sheikh Hilali has also done us all a favour by exposing the denialism favoured in academic, legal and media circles, and by some members of the New South Wales government, that there is no problem reconciling community standards about the way women are treated and the attitudes of many Muslims living in this society. After no fewer than eight gang-rape trials involving Muslim defendants, and hundreds of incidents in which women have been insulted as "sluts" and "whores" by Muslim men, the charade is over. We have a problem.

HERALD SUN

Australia is a tolerant, mature democracy and we accept a wide range of views - religious, political and social. But these stupid rantings go way beyond what is acceptable, and they are an insult to Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Is it perhaps time for Sheikh Hilali to consider moving to a country where his racist, misogynous views would find a more receptive audience?

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Sheikh Taj el-Din al-Hilali apologises for his comments



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