Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 14 Hansard (Wednesday, 23 November 2005) . . Page.. 4512 ..
MR SPEAKER: Order, Mr Pratt!
MR STANHOPE: ACT have written to Mr Omari, have pointed out to him that they have no confidence in him as an individual; that they have so little confidence in the multicultural council under his leadership that they refuse to belong to that organisation. Yet Mr Omari makes grave, serious allegations around the Muslim community of the ACT of its involvement potentially, or potentially members of its community—
Mr Pratt: Yes, so let the police do it.
MR SPEAKER: I warn you, Mr Pratt!
MR STANHOPE: in relation to these visits by unnamed, unknown Wahabist men, in long robes and with long beards, to the Canberra mosque for the purpose of recruiting young Canberra Muslim men. Yet none of them know about it; not one of them knows about it. Not one of them knows what Mr Omari is talking about—not one of them. Not one of them is prepared to confirm his allegations. In fact, they reject his allegations absolutely and in an outright way. They have approached Mr Omari as well. They sought, on Monday morning, exactly the same responses from Mr Omari as I sought. As members of the same community, they went to Mr Omari and said, “Mr Omari, what is it that you are speaking of? Who was it within our community that was approached? Give us the names? These may be our sons that you are talking about. Please let us know who it was that was approached. These are serious issues for our community, particularly in the light of the focus that there is on the Muslim communities around Australia as a result of terrorist activity around the world and recent events in relation to security and the arrest of members of the Islamic communities of Australia in recent police and ASIO action.”
One can imagine the sensitivity, the stress and the anxiety within that community at this time. Those arrests occurred two weeks ago, and here is a member of the Muslim community in the ACT making at this stage allegations, which are not corroborated, against other members of the Muslim community in the ACT, and one can understand their sensitivity and their anxiety and their desire to ensure that this issue is brought to a head, that we all fully understand and, to the extent that people are acting and behaving in an inappropriate way in the ACT, that the police are armed with the information to respond immediately to this issue.
We cannot tolerate the prospect of extremists operating within this community. This is a most worrying allegation that has been made, and at this stage, five days after the allegation was first aired, nobody in the ACT has been able to glean from Mr Omari a single skerrick of understanding or evidence of what it is that he is talking about. Five days later, I am at a loss to know what it is that he is talking about or whom he is talking about, and the police at this stage, on the advice I have, are in the same position. They are interviewing Mr Omari as we speak, I understand, and perhaps, through that interview, all of us will be all the wiser and perhaps we can get to the bottom of this issue.
It is in the interests of all of us, but most particularly the Muslim peoples of this town, that we get to the bottom of this, because of the enormous distress that has been caused