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Auckland Imam demands apology after backlash from anti-Semitic speeches

He’s only preaching from the Quran…
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Dr Mohammad Anwar Sahib speaks at the At-Taqwa mosque in south Auckland.

Auckland Imam demands apology after backlash from anti-Semitic speeches

An Auckland Imam who made anti-Semitic speeches says he deserves an apology after copping a storm of backlash.

Dr Mohammad Anwar Sahib, a religious advisor for a body of the Federation of Islamic Association New Zealand, made a controversial speech in November at the At-Taqwa mosque in Manukau.

“The Christians are using the Jews, and the Jews are using everybody,” Sahib said in the speech.

“Because they think that their protocol is to rule the entire world….”

Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy, Ethnic Communities Minister Hon Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga and the NZ Jewish Council have condemned Sahib’s comments.

But Sahib has now hit back, saying he does “not hate any human being regardless of their faith, place of origin, race, colour and political affiliation”.

“Sadly and falsely, I have been accused of giving hate speeches and being anti-Semitic,” he said.

“I have always preached for peace and harmony in the society.”

He claims the “cut and paste” video that surfaced on YouTube was taken out of context.

“Those who have watched all the complete videos will find that I have not at all incited any hatred towards others.

“Nowhere in these videos have I asked anyone to attack or harm anyone. In fact, in Islam, inciting hatred and promoting violence is sinful. Everyone has freedom of choice to believe in what they want. I personally hold no hatred towards anyone.”

Devoy said the speeches had no place in New Zealand.

Lotu-Iiga called Sahib’s speech “offensive and insulting” and said his comments “are way out of step with New Zealand’s egalitarian values”.

But Sahib said his intentions were “completely different”.

“I suggest that Hon Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga and Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy view the whole video to get the complete story before reaching any decision as I have been accused of something of which I am not guilty.

“My intention was completely different from the reported distorted version conveyed by the bloggers by doing a “cut and paste”.

“I sincerely deserve an apology. I would love to meet with the honourable minister and Race Relations Commissioner and anybody else to clarify the issue.”

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in New Zealand said any Muslim cleric who expresses hate-filled views on other faiths must be condemned.

“Thankfully, the large majority of Muslims in New Zealand do not hold such intolerant or hateful views,” the group’s president Bashir Khan said.

ACT Leader David Seymour called for the Federation of Islamic Association New Zealand to exercise its right to remove Sahib from his position.

“While Dr Sahib has the right to say what he likes, the federation … also has the right to remove him from his position and deny him a platform to spread his intolerance.”

Federation president Hizam Arafeh said it was unacceptable and un-Islamic to condemn any other community in any way.

Arafeh said federation executives would “address the situation” but would not say whether or not Sahib would continue to give sermons.

DR MOHAMMAD ANWAR SAHIB’S FULL STATEMENT

“I wish to make it absolutely clear to those who have watched the video and who have commented that I have given hate speech in regards of people of other faiths that I do not hate any human being regardless of their faith, place of origin, race, colour and political affiliation. As an individual and one of the FIANZ religious advisors, I have always preached for peace and harmony in the society. The cut and paste version reported by “Whaleoil” is a misrepresentation of my views as an Islamic scholar.

“I have been asked to formally respond to some of my lectures on YouTube which have gained negative attention. Sadly and falsely, I have been accused of giving hate speeches and being anti-Semitic. First and foremost, I would like to take this opportunity to inform everyone that all the programmes at our Masjid (Mosque) are open for all to attend at any time. All the programmes are advertised on our Facebook page. All the lectures are streamed live and recorded for everyone to watch. In fact, our Masjid is the only one in New Zealand which always invites everyone to join our regular lectures and programmes. We have non-Muslim visitors who visit us on a regular basis.

“I was made aware of a post by Cameron Slater from “Whaleoil” on Saturday morning (19/11/2016) regarding my past lectures. In that post, he has unfairly cut and pasted various short sections of my lectures and presented them as complete. He has thus taken my lectures entirely out of context and completely misrepresented me. Furthermore, none of my complete lectures were referenced by Whaleoil or other sites for people to have an opportunity to view them and analyse them for themselves. Unfortunately, after this was published on the Whaleoil YouTube channel, it was later picked up by various other websites and none of them did any fact checking either or approached me.

“The first quoted video is available here, youtu.be/CusE_MuUzPk – the lecture starts from 1:16:00. If the video is watched in its entirety, viewers will clearly see that I was not attacking the Jewish people but rather I was explaining that the region of Shaam (Palestine, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon) will be the place where mankind will be resurrected and judged by almighty God. The second quoted video is available here, youtu.be/Z8deDFsspKk – again if the video is watched in its entirety, it is very much self-explanatory. I was simply discussing Islamic history.

“The rest of the quoted videos are available here, youtu.be/u36hX4c3rbcyoutu.be/i6SBFbj3cDQyoutu.be/umjZ3bC2ljY. Those who have watched all the complete videos will find that I have not at all incited any hatred towards others. Nowhere in these videos have I asked anyone to attack or harm anyone. In fact, in Islam, inciting hatred and promoting violence is sinful. Everyone has freedom of choice to believe in what they want. I personally hold no hatred towards anyone.

“The press statement by Hon Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga on 21st of November, available on beehive.govt.nz implied that the President of FIANZ, Hazim Arafeh and some other Muslims believe that I have given hate speech. I have spoken to Hazim Arafeh and he clarified that this is incorrect and that the Minister has absolutely twisted his words. I will not write further with regards to this issue as I understand FIANZ will issue a formal response soon.

“This slander and attack is not just on me, but it is on all Muslims in New Zealand. Sadly, it is at a time when there is so much misrepresentation about Muslims in the media and this unfortunate attack is perpetuating this. Muslims have always lived peacefully in New Zealand and this kind of rhetoric promotes division in the community.

“I suggest that Hon Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga and Race Relations Commissioner, Dame Susan Devoy view the whole video to get the complete story before reaching any decision as I have been accused of something of which I am not guilty. My intention was completely different from the reported distorted version conveyed by the bloggers by doing a “cut and paste.” I sincerely deserve an apology. I would love to meet with the honourable minister and Race Relations Commissioner and anybody else to clarify the issue.

“I would like to invite everyone in New Zealand who reads this letter and is keen to know more about Islam to get in touch with us. We have extensive free resources and materials for everyone, God-willing. If anyone would like to have further discussions regarding any issues, please do get in touch with me via formal means only.”

 

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