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Australian Muslim community suffers backlash following terrorist attackscomment (0)

January 10, 2002

Australia’s Muslim community is suffering a backlash following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. Dave Crampton of ASSIST News Service reports that at least four mosques in Queensland and 11 churches in Sydney have been attacked over a period of three weeks. One mosque was razed and one church in an Islamic area of Sydney was attacked three times in eight days.

Churches from most denominations, including Catholic, Syrian Orthodox and Anglican, were also hit. Nearly all of the Christian churches that have been attacked are in areas where there is a high Islamic population. Police are on high alert and investigations are continuing.

Bankstown Baptist pastor Bruce Cockroft said his church was set on fire. A week later the building was attacked on consecutive nights, with lumps of concrete being smashed through the windows of the church. Cockroft estimated the damage at $16,000, but noted “that doesn’t include the team of cleaners that spent a day getting rid of all the smoke residue, the shampooing of all the carpet, the window repairs and the blinds that were torn by the concrete. I don’t know what the final figure will be.”

Damage to an Anglican Church in Auburn, home to one of the largest  concentrations of Muslims in Sydney, was estimated at $7,000 after fire damaged the front of the church. Rector Ken Coleman has asked all Australians to pray for peace.

A Sydney Uniting church was firebombed twice, with bottles of kerosene being thrown through windows.

After the first attack on Oct. 11, the windows were replaced and the kerosene-saturated carpet was taken up and placed on the porch outside the windows.

Three days later the carpet was set ablaze in an early morning attack, causing the new windows to crack due to the heat. The ceiling and the roof also burned. Damage is estimated at $30,000.

Rev. Neil Ericksson was dragged out of bed. “When the phone rang at 4 a.m. I instinctively knew what it was about. The police notified me there had been another fire so I dressed quickly and returned to the church.” A TV crew filmed the scene and asked Ericksson if he had any message for those responsible. “Yes,” said Ericksson, “just stop.”

After the cleanup the 10 a.m. service went ahead as usual. The spiritual leader of Australia’s Muslims, Sheik Taj Aldin Elhilai, visited the church and both leaders conducted a joint blessing of the congregation. This demonstrated the call from both Christian and Moslem leaders who together are calling for peace and tolerance.

The chief executive of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, Ajmad Mehboob, has warned against retaliation, noting that it is forbidden by Islam.              


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