Friday January 19, 2007 8:30am WST
For Immediate Release
"The Prime Minister disgraces himself by pandering to extremist groups in his video-taped Australia Day message to the Catch The Fire Ministries, and he should now be seen as someone who likes to be linked to the Christian equivalent of groups that seek to vilify and encourage "spiritual terrorism" against Muslims, showing that the Prime Minister represents the same extremism as Sydney Sheikh Muhammad, the head of the Liverpool Global Islamic Youth Centre," WA Rights group Project SafeCom said this morning.
As reported by The Melbourne Age this morning (transcript below), John Howard has sent a video-taped message to be shown at the planned Australia Day gathering of the extremist group, which would burn mosques, casinos and bottle shops.
"The Prime Minister should be called to account for his links to this group, and this issue now represents the second attack front of his party, after the controversy around the Exclusive Brethern and their donations to the Liberal Party was investigated also by the Melbourne paper. It's time all small-l Liberals wake up and put Howard on notice in relation to his extremist links with these so-called Christian groups. One cannot begin to imagine what decent Liberal backbenchers such as the Hon Juli Moylan and Petro Georgiou think this morning, but it can't be positive about their leader - perhaps they should notify that their membership of the Party has become conditional," Project SafeCom's spokesman Jack H Smit said.
"Perhaps decent Liberals should now say to the Prime Minister, that if he's intending to transform the Liberal party under his leadership into a Black Shirt Brigade, that they will stand as independents at the 2007 election."
"Perhaps also, we should hear from the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission or from those laws that deal with incitement of racial hatred. Politicians from all sides have spoken out about Sheikh Muhammad - well, what's good for the goose is good for the gander, and this should amply fit the bill for the Catch the Fire Ministries. Perhaps ASIO's anti-terrorism squad should raid the Catch the Fire Ministries on Australia Day - because who knows, their leaders may well dream of an attack and thank their 'Christian God' for it," Mr Smit said.
"The fact that the Prime Minister of Australia would like to be linked to these extremists, shows that he cares more about manipulating votes than about his own ethics and dignity. It's just another Howard example of "whatever it takes", Mr Smit concluded.
For more information:
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]
PM's message to controversial sect
Misha Schubert, Political Correspondent Canberra
January 19, 2007
John Howard has sent a video greeting to the controversial fundamentalist Christian group Catch the Fire Ministries, in which he reflects on Australia's Christian heritage and values.
Catch the Fire Ministries advocates the destruction of mosques, casinos and bottle shops. Its leader, Danny Nalliah, faces a fresh legal hearing on a charges of racial vilification against Muslims.
The Prime Minister's recorded message was filmed for a prayer meeting to be held in Melbourne on Australia Day, which Pastor Nalliah predicts will attract up to 5000 Christians.
The group refused to disclose the detailed contents of Mr Howard's message yesterday, but said it was "personally directed" to Catch The Fire Ministries.
Pastor Nalliah and his fellow evangelical preacher Daniel Scot claimed vindication late last year when an appeals court set aside orders forcing them to apologise to Muslims for racial vilification.
But the matter was ordered back to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, which in 2005 ordered the church to correct and apologise for comments about Muslims.
Despite the controversy engulfing Pastor Nalliah, former Victorian Liberal leader Robert Doyle met and prayed with him early last year.
Federal Treasurer Peter Costello provided a letter of support for the preacher during his legal wrangle over racial vilification and gave a speech to the church a few years ago. Deputy Prime Minister Mark Vaile, former deputy prime minister John Anderson and former governor-general Peter Hollingworth have also made speeches to them.
Pastor Nalliah said the Australia Day event would pray for the drought to break and for the nation to be safe from terrorism.
As a Family First Victorian Senate candidate in the 2004 federal election, a pamphlet written by Pastor Nalliah was condemned by Nationals Senate candidate Barnaby Joyce as evidence the church was part of "the lunatic right".
"Spot Satan's strongholds in the areas you are living (brothels, gambling places, bottle shops, mosques, temples — Freemasons/Buddhist/Hindu etc, witchcraft," the leaflet said.
"If you are ready to pray against it, do so. If not, bring it to your church and ask your intercessors, through the pastor, to pull these strongholds down."