Australia: Tolerating Islamist intolerance

It says something about the plurality of our liberal democracy that the Al-Furqan Islamic Information Centre has operated freely in the Melbourne suburb of Springvale for more than a decade.

Run by hardline cleric Harun Mehicevic, who denounces “Australian values” as not befitting Muslims, the centre has promoted information portraying Muslims in this country and elsewhere as victims, particularly, of Western governments. These views, often preaching intolerance, test the tolerance of our society.

If we should tolerate everything except intolerance, then extremist Islamism presents the ultimate challenge. A centre preaching an exclusive version of Hindi or Christianity, for example, would not be tolerated in many Muslim nations.

And in the new quasi-caliphate established by Islamic State such a venture would surely end abruptly in brutal slaughter.

Yet the Al-Furqan Centre has not been closed by our laws or authorities but by choice. To be sure, it attributes this action to “harassment, pressure and false accusations” from the media and politicians, thereby preserving the victim status of its followers…