Harsh Sentence a Warning to Australia’s Youthful Muslim Zealots

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Greg WOOD / AFP / Getty Images

People shout slogans in Sydney on Sep. 15, 2012, in protests sparked by the anti-Islam film "Innocence of Muslims"

In almost any circumstance, pushing a police officer and kicking a police dog aren’t considered smart things to do. But does that behavior — even if it took place during the chaos and fury of a riot — deserve four years and one month in prison? Yes, say the Australian courts in what appears to be a draconian ruling for a country with a relatively progressive legal system.

Bear in mind it was no ordinary riot. Part of the worldwide protests that followed the publishing last September on YouTube of anti-Islam film Innocence of Muslims, the Sept. 15 riot turned Sydney’s central business district into a war zone where Muslim protesters attacked police, destroyed public property and carried placards reading “Behead all those who insult the Prophet.” And it took place in Hyde Park, a lush green space consecrated to monuments honoring Australia’s war dead, including Sydney’s largest ANZAC War Memorial, the Pool of Remembrance. The wheels of justice finally turned on May 9 when a 26-year-old Australian man, plumber Mahmoud Eid, became the first of 12 defendants to be jailed over the affray. On handing Eid the maximum sentence for kicking a police dog and pushing a female police officer, New South Wales deputy chief magistrate Jane Culver said she would have locked him up for longer if the law allowed it.

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The trial and sentencing throw into sharp relief the gulf that exists between the mainstream Australian public and an at times vocal class of disaffected, ethnically Arab youth. The sprawling, low- and middle-income suburbs of Western Sydney may be a long way from the Parisian banlieues and the grimy streets of East London, but each is home to disaffected migrants and locally born second generations, who consider themselves socially excluded from, and culturally at odds with, their new countries.

Granted, they are in the minority. Sitting in Al Andalas Cafe, a popular North African haunt in the southwestern suburb of Lakemba, an Algerian-born migrant in his 40s who identified himself as Jugurtha sums up the predominant sentiment of a largely law-abiding local community when he says, “In France, Muslim people feel marginalized. Here, my main concerns are soccer training and the education of my kids.” In a nearby restaurant, 26-year-old waiter Bashir Ghazal condemns the violence. “I don’t support people going crazy like that,” he says.

But Eid’s lawyer Elie Rahme, an Australian-born Lebanese Christian, tells TIME his client’s actions and those of other protesters in the Sept. 15 riot are symptoms of the disenfranchisement and alienation becoming common among many Muslims in Australia. “We think because we are not shooting or hanging Muslims, we are not persecuting them,” he says. “But you can persecute people psychologically through prejudice and labeling that makes them feel out of place. All the TV stations around the country reported the riot as a ‘Muslim riot’ when it was only a small number of the 300 peaceful protesters there on the day that committed acts of violence. If I were Muslim, I would have felt persecuted listening to that.”

Repeated allegations of racial profiling by the New South Wales police force have added fuel to the fire. Last year, a Sydney criminal lawyer of Middle Eastern ancestry, Adam Houda received an undisclosed out-of-court settlement after he sued police for a 2010 incident where he was roughed up and arrested over a robbery while walking home from evening prayers. It was the sixth time Houda had been wrongfully arrested and the third time he’d sued the police. “It’s something that occurs on a daily basis,” he says. “When it happens to me, I am fortunate enough to have the resources and manpower to do something about it. I get complaints about it at my office every single day. It’s not something new. It’s part of a culture.”

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Known as the go-to lawyer for Muslims charged under Australia’s controversial counterterrorism laws, including former Guantánamo Bay inmate turned serial litigator Mamdouh Habib, Houda visited Eid in detention this weekend to set in motion an appeal. “When you consider he handed himself in, pleaded guilty and showed remorse, the sentence was a stunning result,” Houda says of his new client, who was previously been jailed for a similar offense relating to the infamous 2005 Cronulla riots that saw racial clashes spread across different parts of Sydney. “We’ll be launching an appeal and I am expecting a huge reduction in the penalty,” he says. “It’s very hard for [non-Muslim] Australians to understand the emotion involved when someone insults the prophet’s name,” he adds, referring to the film that ignited the September riots.

Houda’s sentiments were echoed by Rebecca Kay, a Muslim convert who has run for state and local seats in the Sydney suburb of Bankstown and who witnessed the riots from close quarters. “Muslims feel ostracized here and some of them get seduced into a hardcore version of Islam,” she says. “You wouldn’t believe how much hatred we receive through social media and Facebook pages like Ban the Burqa. And talkback radio in Australia is the worst. The say really horrible things about us.” Although Kay understands the intensity of the passions involved, she, like most Australian Muslims, does not support last September’s violence. “With better leadership and better organization of the protests, the violence could’ve been prevented,” she says.

Condemnation of the rioters’ actions has even come from the unlikely person of Sheik Feiz Mohammed. A firebrand cleric watched closely by police, the sheik made global headlines last month when it was revealed that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the deceased Boston-bombing suspect, had uploaded a video sermon of the sheik vilifying the Harry Potter series for promoting witchcraft among children. In another video, thought to be recorded in 2004, the sheik described Jews as “pigs” and grunted for effect. And at a 2005 town-hall meeting in Sydney, he said women who dress in “satanic skirts” have no one to blame but themselves if they are raped.

But following a lengthy self-imposed exile in the Middle East, the sheik has returned to Australia and apparently reinvented himself as a voice of reason. In a video interview with the nonprofit group Muslim Village, he described the Sept. 15 riot as unacceptable and contrary to the teachings of Islam. “Islam teaches us not to despair,” he said, “not to behave in a desperate way, not to take matters into our own hands and definitely not to behave in a foolish and repugnant manner.” As one of millions of Sydneysiders who raged with indignation after seeing footage of overzealous protesters trying to storm the U.S. consulate and a bloodied, unconscious policeman being dragged to safety by his colleagues, I find myself, a practicing Jew, oddly in agreement with the sheik. Once we’ve agreed on responsible behavior, everything else can follow: dialogue, tolerance and helping disaffected young Muslims find their rightful place in Australia’s many-hued cultural fabric.

MORE: Racial Attacks Trouble Indian Students in Australia

66 comments
freealfin
freealfin

The west needs  oil to survive. We need the oil where Muslims live. I say...lets invent a Religion called Hoily and adopt Muslims ideologies and  kill all of them wherever there's oil. That should account for a hole bunch of them but please, ledt's not behead them...just dose them with gasoline and set them afire son they can be martirs and go se Muhamed. Hey man...you sound like a Muslim.

freealfin
freealfin

I'm tired of Musl;ims attitude towards the country where they live when that country is not their own. Most of these are not even citizens. If I had a saying I would send all of them back to MuhamedLand so they can be happy beheading themselves. There is no place in a civilized society for  people who are fanatics at anythinhg. Fanaticism is a terrible cancer and should be eliminated from the world. Religiuos fanatics are the wort kind. Thoughout the centuries they have been responsible for billions of murders. Chritians and non christians alike. As a matter of fact, Christians rank number one with the Inquisition and the anihalation of local indigenous populations including those of Central, South and North America.

Pollywantacracker
Pollywantacracker

" I find myself, a practicing Jew, oddly in agreement with the sheik. Once we’ve agreed on responsible behavior, everything else can follow: dialogue, tolerance and helping disaffected young Muslims find their rightful place in Australia’s many-hued cultural fabric."


Ian Neubauer might be a practicing Jew, but he is TOTALLY ignorant about the realities of the Islamic religion's anti-Semitism and political machinations extant in Islam!  Shame on you, Mr. Neubauer!


You are what is called a Dhimmie.  You are IGNORANTLY help portray the Muslims as victims, which is one of their prime M.O.'s   


There is NOTHING ANY non-Muslim can do to override the Islamic directive of Jihad and takeover of the entire world, as held in prime esteem in both the Sunni and Shia worlds.

As a Jew, Mr. Neubauer, you should KNOW that when 1.6 Billion Muslims say they want to kill you because you are a Jew, that you need to take that seriously.  It's people like you that will help them kill you and other Jews.

STOP BEING AN IGNORAMUS AND DO YOUR HOMEWORK or is getting published by Time more important than the truth?


Shame on Dhimmie TIME for printing this garbage, too

TrueBlueAuzzie
TrueBlueAuzzie

If you are offended by  our Australian courts decision then you are in the wrong country

JackZedee
JackZedee

you quote rebecca kay , here's her quote about me ,  "this ugly old kaffur crusader , he needs killing , there is no room in this world for people like him " my crime?  i debated  a islamic cleric on sharia law and its place in Australia,  islams response, a fatwa that i should be killed as i showed using the koran  that sharia has no place in this  land ..    the so called moderate muslim wants anyone dead who can quote her own book back at her ..  

skai
skai

No  matter  how long muslims live in Australia, they will NEVER integrate. 

JarradHurley
JarradHurley

This article is a little bit ridiculous. Harsh sentencing absolutely must be enforced against Muslim offenders because frankly, they have a culture of doing things we find offensive. Have a look at the way they live in their own countries and what they are doing in Europe... they are like a cancer, that infiltrates and tries to change the very nature of the land that gives them asylum from the war torn lands they claim to despise yet wish to bring customs from. Deportation is what should happen to Muslim offenders... and if they are born here... deport them to some sort of prison Island where they can murder eachother because thats what makes them happy/ 

j.wilson0209
j.wilson0209

Multiculturalism works EXCEPT when it comes to Muslims.  I wish Canada would never have allowed them in.  The problem has become so bad in Quebec that one of the political parties has moved to created a 'Charter of Values' which states that all religious symbols must Not be worn in public (Crosses, star of David).  Its a 'polite' way of dealing with the real issue which is Muslims not respecting the customs of the host country.  They make trouble wherever they go.

KerrySacker
KerrySacker

i believe that if you go and live in a country that is not your own you should respect there way of live, and if you don't like there way of life them get out of THERE country

Boiragi
Boiragi

It is an absolute disgrace of the humanity when I see muslims on the streets, wherever they went, they left a trail of destruction. A total retarded bunch of people living in an ideology of 6th century Arabia! Then why don't they bloody live there forever and kill each other with glee? Why bothering other people accross the World? Why? NOBODY WANTS YOU!

Either you accept these effluance of humanity or the religion of peace will kill you!

tketcher
tketcher

All of us in the Civilized World are Soooooooooooooo Tired of trying to deal with these Fanatics from the Stone Age. There would appear to be no chance of them ever becoming a part of the real world. Whatever punishment they got is NOT ENOUGH. We cannot continue to allow these animals to disrupt everything positive on the planet because they cannot adapt to the real world. 

sarahnazifa8
sarahnazifa8

okay im a muslim and honestly i just feel like slapping them one by one (lol badass). i mean here in singapore, we didnt even react to the video. the muslims here are calm. im not kidding. yes we're mad when that video was released on youtube but we continue with our lives . no riot at all. and no islam is not violent. you guys should'nt search on the internet about islam cause most of them are lies. its not the religion that is violent its the people. i mean it depends. like singaporean muslims are relaxed and some of them wear hijabs while some dont. its up to you actually. it is must but if you're not used to it or if you dont like it then its okay.and some food products arent halal so we would normally check the ingredients to see if theres alcohol or pork. anyways, gosh i despise those people who joined the riot. and yeah singapore does have this free speech thingy and we dont wear that thing that covers your face.i mean,its not a must. if my comment is offensive then im sorry 'cause different people have different opinions ( i guess..) p.s the muslims here are kind of mixed i guess. chinese,indian,malay caucasian and stuff. 

BrahmandamLakshmiNarasimhaMurthy
BrahmandamLakshmiNarasimhaMurthy

Any country which allows Muslim immigrants will face such situations because Muslims do not assimilate into the communities they live in , they dot follow the law of the land and stick to the 1400 byears old way of living prescribed by their book.They do not belong to this century.

brianrg
brianrg

the last sentence of your article is very naive - if you are as you say a practicing jew then you should know that the average muslim and islam as a whole will not and cannot reason. those "disaffected" youth you seem to think can find their way in australian society will never fit in. the australian culture is very unique and those who follow a barbaric 7th century ideology who wish to impose that upon the nation and people that gave them succour cannot grasp the idea of freedom. sharia law is the only thing they understand and as long as this mindset is extant in the muslim mind peace and understanding will forever evade mankind

IanNeubauer
IanNeubauer

Thanks for all the comments they are taken on board. But this story, nor anyone interviewed in it, does not justify the riot. Rather, it seek to analyse and understand the event so measures can be taken to prevent it from happening again. 

NaveedXVO
NaveedXVO

If we just stop hurting their feelings, they'll become secular liberals and stop trying to kill us. Of course, of course! Because that's exactly how Muslim Arabs act when they control the government. Thanks for the enlightenment Time. 

The reason, obviously, every Arab country in the world is so backwards and violent is because their feelings are so hurt from all the intolerance and racism in the western world.

leopoldmarsh
leopoldmarsh

“It’s very hard for [non-Muslim] Australians to understand the emotion involved when someone insults the prophet’s name,” he adds, referring to the film that ignited the September riots.

Oh, piss on that. Is that meant to be an excuse? 

heapologiatoutimotheou
heapologiatoutimotheou

Since when is it necessary to tolerate the most intolerant ideology the world has ever known (Islam) or the violent antics of those who would attempt to forcibly convert others to their backwards beliefs? Hats off to that judge, I say

jkaravidas
jkaravidas

Seclusion and non integration is to blame for someone behaving in an unlawful manner ????? what kind of a pathetic excuse is this for a bunch of savages acting like rabid animals !!! In order of the PREVENTION of similar acts the Australian judge did the right thing. No matter what anybody's religion is and why he thinks offended, one simply can't impose his beliefs on others or more so commit acts of violence in the name of his regressive religion. It all starts with simple things like the right not to be secluded and pretty soon comes down to demands that everybody must shut up when some sheik is praying hatred for all non-muslims

SonjaEady
SonjaEady

The fılm ıs bloody ridiculous..

SonjaEady
SonjaEady

Afterthought: In all religions 'God' or 'Allah' is believed to be all powerful so I am sure that if he felt insulted he could send a thunderbolt or whatever to punish 'the insulter'.

davidflorenta
davidflorenta

@joe7phamI'm sure all evil is created by this religion. They not only made violence in western world, but in middle east too, where Shia and Sunni islam kill each other.

225VOLT
225VOLT

@joe7pham Thanks for this one. It speaks volumes to the danger of Islamic hatred.

tketcher
tketcher

One need look no further than Bosnia where US Soliders fought and died to protect the Muslims from Genocide. What did we get for our efforts? 9/11 and a lost decade of Productivity for the betterment of Civilization while we emptied our Treasury providing food and shelter for these people. Their murderous legacy continues to this day. C'mon people it is 2013, Wise up. These snake oil salesmen who whisper in your ear about the Great Satan and how glorious it would be to die for your God. Remember the story of Abraham, No Real God would ask those who worship them to murder their fellows inhabitants of this planet. You fools are being held in slavery to stupidity that is no less real than chains of Iron.

ooyahdevil
ooyahdevil

@tketcher I agree but please do not compare them to animals, animals cause no trouble on this planet.

davidflorenta
davidflorenta

@tketcher this religion has made serious crime in this world. I wonder why United States and western world don't kill every muslim infidels.

BenjaminEs
BenjaminEs

@tketcherOh, how smart you are. You and your people are the only human being on this planet. and those who oppose your definition of "real world", "civilized" and "positive" are animals. You, sir, just another animal on this planet. Nothing different than those "fanatics".

225VOLT
225VOLT

@tketcher The civilized world needs to forget about political correctness and face this pestilence for what it is; a real and constant threat to peace , worldwide.

Marwin
Marwin

Quran...Surah 2:191...And kill them wherever you overtake them and expel them from wherever they have expelled you, and fitnah is worse than killing. And do not fight them at al-Masjid al- Haram until they fight you there. But if they fight you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers.

See what quran said....Quran called Christians infidels... Someday if muslims will govern Australia, it gives very big trouble........Only Christians must live in Australia and not muslims..Quran teach to kill....

BenjaminEs
BenjaminEs

@BrahmandamLakshmiNarasimhaMurthy So who belongs to this century? You? Your "non-muslim is better" ideal? As long as you believe in the same fairy tales about A Holy God In The Sky, you still the same punk in this century. LOL.

BargBin
BargBin

@IanNeubauer

Why not to leave by the law? Especially if this law separates state from religion. We have a freedom of speech that applies to everybody. But we also have a obligation not to turn the speech into punches. The sentence is not about a particular action, but about an attempt to change the foundation of the country. There are many countries in the world, and people have a choice were they want to live. I am one of such people who made the choice. 

The fact that somebody somewhere exercised his/her right of speech (even in not the smartest way), was just an excuse for these rioters. What did they want from Australian government? To cancel free speech? 

One example from the history. When some religious groups were not just disenfranchised, but prosecuted and killed, they decided to move on and create a land for everybody to speak freely, and exercise any religion. This country has become very prosperous, and is called United States of America.

Marwin
Marwin

Surah 4:89 They wish you would disbelieve as they disbelieved so you would be alike. So do not take from among them allies until they emigrate for the cause of Allah . But if they turn away, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them and take not from among them any ally or helper.

See another chapter and verse in Quran teach to kill... The Holy Bible teach to love your enemy,.If your enemy is hungry feed him, if he is thirsty give him something to drink... See it's a very big difference...Quran is very far from the Holy Bible..

Holy Bible teach to love and quran teach to kill.............

matt.crawford88
matt.crawford88

muhammad was nothing more than a bandit,killer and a sick and evil chid rapist

AlenHavic
AlenHavic

Heapo have you studied this ideology or you based your conclusion on Fox News?

BrahmandamLakshmiNarasimhaMurthy
BrahmandamLakshmiNarasimhaMurthy

@jkaravidas Expecting Muslims to be like other normal people is a mistake . They are like vermin . take care not to allow them in. Once they are in , it is like cancer ,there is no remedy.

tketcher
tketcher

BenjaminEs. I work for a living and have a life you can only dream about. You and yours seem to think that murder is a way of life and are happy to wallow in your misery. Your only goal here seems to be ruining everything is good about life for everybody else. Nobody cares anymore whether your people live or die. But we also know that your cult of death compells us to exterminate you before you can kill again. We have tried to help you dig out of the Centuries of ignorance you have created for your world, but it is a lost cause. You have sowed the Wind and Now you will to Reap the Whirlwind.

BenjaminEs
BenjaminEs

@matt.crawford88 yes, just like any other religious myth: jesus, moses, gautama, and even GOD. A bunch of liars. isn't it?

skai
skai

AlenHavic '' ..have you studied this idelolgy or you based your conclusion on Fox News ? ''  One does not have to do that. You can go on line and reat Quran ,Hadith or any material on Islam.

BenjaminEs
BenjaminEs

@AlenHavic Who need to study any ideology if media told you anything they want you to know, not what you wanna know? Looks like to that man named heapo, this is how the REAL and CIVILIZED WORLD works.

Marwin
Marwin

Quran..Surah 5:33   Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment.. 

Marwin
Marwin

@davidflorenta @BenjaminEs

Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment,