Sydney Muslim suing for defamation - it's not extremist to call for beheading, Muslim law requires it, says he's a normal, not extreme Muslim
Hamza Cheikho was a model Sydney Muslim, he coached a kids soccer team, was devout in his religious practice nd lived a quiet life in the suburbs. Quiet, that is until he took to Sydney's streets for the 2012 Muslim riots to deliver a sickening threat to the rest of us - all those who insult the Muslim prophet should be beheaded.
The riots were ostensibly triggered because Sydney Muslims were upset about a video. Upset enough to take to the streets to call for mass beheadings in response. Few had seen the video, made by someone they didn't know with no connection to Sydney. The quality of life in Sydney wasn't affected by the video - but the rioting Muslims didn't want a quiet life. They had terror in mind, the terror we felt when we saw such large numbers of violent people demanding the beheading of all those who insult Mohammed. Some of them even encouraged their children to deliver the threat.
After the riots the ABC interviewed Mr Chieko - here's the video:
The Daily Telegraph ran a series of reports about the riots and did its best to identify the most prominent of the rioters. Sadly the Tele adopted the politically correct label of "extremist" to describe identified rioters. Chiekho took offence at being called an extremist, in his and many other Muslim minds, her was a normal Muslim expressing normal views.
Chiekho sued the Daily Telegraph for defamation, his case is before a Sydney Court right now.
Here's an extract from the ABC's report on the court case yesterday.
After the video Mr Blackburn said: "Mr Cheikho, a few moments ago you said, under affirmation, that you did not agree that anyone who insults Islam should be beheaded."
Mr Cheiko said the ABC had "taken it out of context".
He went on to say that part of his interview with the ABC which did not air in that broadcast involved him explaining that under Islamic law, people who insult the prophet should be punished by death.
That's the nub of the matter - he's not a terrorist, he's a normal Muslim. Chiekho is correct in describing Islamic law, non-negotiable for all Muslims. Beheadings are a normal part of life in Islamic countries controlled by the Muslim Sharia - with executions by beheading carried out in public. And insulting their long dead leader is punished by death.
Chiekho's case is on foot before the court and jury for a full hearing - that means preliminary hearings determined that he has an arguable case to say he's been defamed by being called an extremist. He's after hefty damages too, the ABC reports some of his evidence about how he has been affected by the extremist tag:
Negative publicity left man 'shattered'
The day's evidence began with Mr Cheiko's barrister, Tom Molomby SC, asking his client how the case had affected him.
He said the negative publicity from the four articles left him: "Shattered. It made me feel less confident, very paranoid.
"I feel paranoid, like if people are looking at me they might be noticing my face from the paper. It's worn me down."
Mr Cheikho added that he had to give up a job he loved, coaching a junior football team.
Under cross examination, Mr Blackburn pointed out that Mr Cheikho had been to a conference organised by Hizb Ut-Tahrir about the same film that triggered the riot.
Mr Cheikho said he had been there but said he did not know anything about Hizb Ut-Tahrir and whether it was a radical group.
Blackburn: "Is that a truthful answer?"
Blackburn: "I put it to you, Mr Cheiko, that after you said what you said to the ABC, you don't have any right to be respected for your views on Islam."
Cheikho: "I don't agree."
This case illustrates the Muslim problem. It teaches its followers to behave in ways that are unlawful in Australia. And we're supporting them by describing people who get caught following through on Islamic law as "extreme'.