Australia: Muslim community splits over leader’s defence of Charlie Hebdo

The Islamic Council of Victoria secretary Ghaith Krayem

THE sharp divisions within Australia’s Muslim community have been exposed by the latest Charlie Hebdo magazine cover, with Victoria’s peak Islamic body attacking Sydney community leader Keysar Trad for defending its depiction of a crying Mohammed.

The Islamic Council of Victoria warned yesterday that any depiction of Mohammed was deeply offensive to Muslims and was “ill-considered” following the Paris attacks, saying the right to free speech came with responsibilities.

Secretary Kuranda Seyit said recent cartoons showing Mohammed reacting to the Islamist terror were needlessly provocative. “I’m just guessing, but you could say about 90 per cent of the Muslim community would be absolutely against the cartoons,” he said.

“The other 10 per cent have their opinions, but I think the reason they’re saying this is because they want to say: ‘We disagree with the cartoons but we also believe in free speech and we want to try to get a balance’.

“We need to have some type of limitation to how far we go. What’s going on at the moment, particularly with the Charlie Hebdo cartoons, is more about provocation.”

Mr Trad posed this week with a copy of the latest Charlie Hebdo cover, saying although its cartoons may be ­offensive to some Muslims, the magazine had made a habit of caricaturing all religious leaders and had a right to free speech.

“We in essence agree with that, but the way he went about doing it was completely inappropriate and actually unacceptable from a Muslim point of view,” Mr Seyit said. “They could have done the same thing without actually depicting the prophet Mohammed”…