Australia’s Islamic “Hate Preachers” Are Actually Pretty Tame (According To Facebook)
"I am sorry we haven’t red-carded these hate preachers before but it will happen."
Prime Minister Tony Abbott today slammed radical Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir, calling them "hate preachers" for hosting public lectures and spouting anti-government rhetoric on Facebook.
The page is updated several times a day, featuring threats, graffiti and media reports of racist attacks against Australia's Muslim community.
Perhaps surprisingly, posts on Islamophobic attacks spark calls for tolerance and solidarity, rather than revenge.
The page also features photos of past public meetings apparently showing brainstorming sessions working out how the group should respond to new anti-terrorism laws.
But as the name of the Facebook page suggests, the content has a vehement anti-Government message.
Led by outspoken campaigner Uthman Baderm, Hizb ut-Tahrir describes itself as an Islamic political party. It is banned in some Western countries for its preaching of Islamic fundamentalism and reported links to violence.
Hizb ut-Tahrir made headlines last month when it led the way in organising anti-government protests in the wake of Sydney's terror raids.
Mr Bader was also thrust into the spotlight when his planned public talk on "honour killings" at Sydney's Festival of Dangerous Ideas was cancelled due to intense public pressure.
Mr Badar used Facebook to respond to Mr Abbott's claims on Wednesday, saying he was confused by the attacks on his small group of followers and the planned Friday public talk.
"The speakers, who have not even been announced, are all local. There are no 'top draw' or international speakers. Evidently, the Prime Minister is not interested in facts when seeking to silence political dissent or whip up Islamophobic hysteria!"
Mr Abbott said he can't ban Hizb ut-Tahrir because the group has not engaged in terrorism. But he has foreshadowed new laws to crackdown on groups and public events hosted by visiting clerics.
The group is committed to the establishment of a Islamic caliphate but has distanced itself from the violence being perpetrated by ISIS in Syria and Ira.
"Then, I suppose, we have to have another look at Hizb ut-Tahrir to see whether they fall under the definition of promoting terrorism," Mr Abbott said.