Melbourne, 2 Jumadil Awwal 1434/13 March 2013 (MINA) – Bringing a galaxy of Muslim scholars from around the world, Australia’s Muslims are preparing to open their largest conference this week to build bridges with followers of other faiths and the wider community.
“The biggest and best ever Islamic event in the history of Australia is going to take place in Melbourne with more than 20 dynamic International and local speakers,” the conference’s website says, according to OnIslam report monitored by Mi’raj News Agency (MINA), Wednesday.
“Almost all Islamic organizations are united together inshallah for this Conference.”Organized by the Islamic Research and Educational Academy (IREA), the three-day conference will open on Friday, March 15.
Themed the “Australian Islamic Peace Conference”, the event aims at bridging gaps between Muslims and followers of other faiths and the wider community in Australia.
“Educating the masses, building bridges and narrowing the gaps between communities,” the conference’s website says.
Nearly 1,000 volunteers will be assisting in training and the management of the conference.
The gathering brings attendants from different mosques in Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra and Adelaide as well as scholars from around the world.
Leading among attendees is Saudi scholar Abdul Rahman al-Sudais, the imam of the Haram in Makkah.
Other guests include Br Imran from the Islamic Research & Educational Foundation in India, Sheikh Mishary Alaffasy from Kuwait, Ahmed Bukhatir and Sheikh Mohammed Ismail from the UAE.
Br Imran, the chief speaker at the conference, will give lectures on sensitive issues as Islam and violence and the peace message of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).
Other Muslim scholars from the West include Sheikh Abdulhadi, a British speaker at PEACE TV, Abdullah Rolle from Britain, Sheikh Yusuf Estes and Sheikh Yasir Qadhi from the US.
Muslims, who have been in Australia for more than 200 years, make up 1.7 percent of its 20-million population.
But the planned conference has invited flaks over the presence of Muslim scholars known for criticism of Jews.
“Organizers of any event are responsible for the conduct of individuals or speakers (under the state Racial and Religious Tolerance Act),” Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship Minister Nick Kotsiras said.
The minister said he has directed Victorian Multicultural Commissioner Chin Tan to speak to the event’s organizers about any inflammatory rhetoric during the event.
“I’ve asked him to explain to them that we live in a multicultural state and that our aim is to ensure that individuals, groups and communities are able to live in peace and harmony with each other.”
Saudi scholar al-Sudais was the prime target of criticism for his repeated criticism of Israeli practices in the occupied Palestinian lands.
Jewish and Christian groups have called for denying the Saudi imam entry to Australia.
But Muslim leaders reject the criticism, rejecting any comparison between al-Sudais and far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who visited Australia last month.
“One person may have made comments in anger,” Keysar Trad, assistant secretary of the Federation of Islamic Councils, told The Australian.
“The other has made it his personal mission to go around the world telling lies about Muslims.”
Al-Sudais actively speaks out against the persecution of Palestinians by Israeli settlers and soldiers in the occupied lands. He also calls for efforts to combat terrorism. (T/P015/E1)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)