Islamic forum with Taliban cancelled

Islamic forum with Taliban cancelled

A public backlash and government intervention has led the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils to cancel plans to host two members of the Taliban in an online forum for the Australian Muslim community.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrettot said the event had been cancelled after intervention from the government.

“We asked AFIC to cancel this event and they have agreed to do so,” he said in a statement on Thursday.

“The NSW community is currently opening its arms to refugees and Australian repatriates from Afghanistan.

“We join Muslim community leaders in NSW, and especially Afghan community leaders, in condemning events of this kind,” he said.

A promotional banner for the virtual event – which was to be held on Saturday – said “a stellar panel of speakers” would discuss the 'Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan' – the Taliban's name for the new regime.

When asked about the event on Thursday the premier said he was “incredibly concerned by it”.

“I think there'd be a lot of people today who have served in Afghanistan – or have had loved ones who have, who were lost, fighting in Afghanistan – would be deeply shocked and saddened to see that report today,” he said.

Later he released a statement saying the government was “relieved for all members of our community that this event has been cancelled and look forward to a continued constructive relationship with AFIC”.

The Afghanistan-Australian Advocacy Network, along with prominent individuals and organisations in the Australian Muslim community condemned the panel for featuring members of the Taliban.

It released a statement saying that in the last two months, the Afghanistan-Australian community “had witnessed a constant flow of human rights abuses, and atrocities committed by the Taliban against family members, relatives, and community back home”.

“For women and girl and vulnerable minority groups, we have seen the Taliban re-escalating their systemic discrimination and we've witnessed the oppression of Afghanistan's long-persecuted Hazara people,” the statement said.

The AAAN also called on AFIC to withdraw the invitation to the members of the Taliban and to offer an unreserved apology to the Afghanistan-Australian community.

Arif Hussein from the Afghanistan-Australian Advocacy Network said there was “no justification for giving a public platform to members of the Taliban at a time when they continue to repress the rights of women and minorities such as the Hazaras in Afghanistan”. This event clearly demonstrates a clear lack of judgment and empathy on AFIC's part.”

Mariam Veizsadeh from Islamophobia Register of Australia said it was “deeply shameful that AFIC thought it was appropriate to provide such a platform to the Taliban.

“It's just further proof that AFIC is out of step with Australian Muslims.”

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