October 26, 2021

‘Unjustifiable’: Taliban to headline event An invitation to a forum on Afghanistan held by the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, featuring members of the Taliban.

Australia’s peak Muslim body has come under fire for what’s been called a “completely inappropriate” decision for an upcoming event.

Australia’s peak Muslim body has come under fire for their “completely inappropriate” decision to platform known Taliban leaders at a virtual event this weekend.

The “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and Diaspora Muslims” event, organised by the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils for Saturday night, advertises a “stellar panel of speakers” that includes two known Taliban members, “whether (attendees are) in favour or against recent developments”.

Among the panel members are Sheik Sohail Shaheen, who has been the official spokesman for the Taliban since the group took over Afghanistan in August following the US and Australian withdrawal.

Fellow panel member Sheik Sayed Abdul Basir Sabiri is also a senior Taliban figure.

Senator Penny Wong said the decision to allow the Taliban a platform in Australia was “unjustifiable”.

“The Taliban has been responsible for horrific atrocities against the people of Afghanistan – including women, girls and Hazaras – throughout their brutal rule and recent resurgence,” she said.

“It is also deeply distressing to the many Australians who have served in Afghanistan and the tens of thousands of Afghans who have sought asylum and built lives in Australia.”

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said she encouraged the organisers to consider whether the event should go ahead.

“The Taliban’s Cabinet has no women, no representatives from the ethnic Hazara community and few others from other ethnic minorities, and includes members of a US-designated terror group,” she said.

“I encourage the organisers to think deeply about their event, and reflect on how much hurt it would cause veterans, Australian Afghans, ethnic Hazaras, and the women of Afghanistan – all of whom have suffered under the Taliban – for it to go ahead as reported this morning.”

The event has also been condemned by Muslim advocates, including Sharhram Akbarzadeh, a Deakin University professor who called the decision to host the event “disastrous”.

“They obviously didn’t consult the thousands of Afghan diaspora in Australia about what it means to have the Taliban back in power. Wrong on so many levels. It’s gobsmacking,” he said.

Fellow advocate Sitrah Mohammadi, whose family fled Afghanistan in the late 1990s, said it was “horrifying” that the Taliban figures had been given a platform “to spread their propaganda”.

“Hazaras have suffered tragically at their hands and continue to do so,” she said.

“The Hazaras are currently facing forced land evictions and ethnic cleansing at the hands of the Taliban in Afghanistan. This event would allow the Taliban to advance its push for global legitimacy and strengthen its oppressive rule.”

Other speakers include AFIC president Rateb Jneid and National Grand Mufti of Australia Imam Abdul Quddoos Al Azhari.

The Prime Minister and the Home Affairs Minister have been contacted for comment.

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