Drug cartels worse than Islamic State, Imam tells Sydney Muslims

The LMA Sydney Muslim Conference 2014 attracted around 900 delegates from around Australia and overseas, and addressed various themes and issues with one of America’s most influential Scholars, Imam Zaid Shakir,

By Gina Rushton, Sydney AU, November 17, 2014

ONE of America’s leading Muslim scholars has condemned Islamic State and told a conference in Sydney that people of his faith had to be “messengers of peace”.

Imam Zaid Shakir — the co-founder of Berkeley’s Zaytuna College — last night gave the keynote speech at the Sydney Muslim Conference in the city’s west and slammed the actions of militants overseas, stressing they represented a minuscule portion of Muslims in Australia.

The US scholar also made comparisons between Islamic State fighters and the activities of Mexican drug cartels, noting the crimes of the drug lords made Islamic State actions “pale in significance”.

“ISIS has beheaded a handful of journalists. Mexican drug cartels have killed 57 in the same period ... there is a very virulent ideology that has a vested interest in making sure we know everything about the crimes of ISIS,” he said.

Mr Shakir accused leaders in the West of radicalising Muslim youth via a “self-fulfilling prophecy … This idea that Muslims are inherently violent and prone to terrorism anticipates there is going to be a Muslim radicalisation problem”.

Event organiser and Lebanese Muslim Association scholar in residence Aftab Malik said the number of attendees was double expectations and those there were sick of condemning Islamic State violence. “Everyone forgets that the large number of people that have been killed by these radicals are Muslims themselves,” he said.

Dozens of attendees lined up to have their copies of Mr Shakir’s The Treatise for The Seekers of Guidance and Scattered Pictures signed by the author.

SBS acting chairman and Australian Muslim Foundation executive director Bulent Hass Dellal, Punchbowl Boys principal Jihad Dib and MasterChef finalist Amina El Shafei spoke earlier about what it meant to be young, Australian and Muslim. The panel offered advice on how to tackle bigotry and spoke of why Islam was relevant to their lives.

Reprint: The Australian, http://www.theaustralian.com.au/author?author=Gina%2bRushton