i don't know what to make of this....

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    A Queensland imam says September 11 has produced a rise in the number of Australians converting to Islam.

    Queensland's Islamic community says its numbers have more than doubled in recent years and it now boasts more than 15,000 followers, including those who have turned away from other religions such as Christianity.

    Iman Uzair Akbar, who says much of his work is in conversions, believes September 11 has prompted more interest in the teachings of Islam.

    "It is sad what is happening in the world but the events are allowing us to break those boundaries and jump the obstacles, so we're getting a greater opportunity to speak to the people about the religion Islam," he said.

    Omar Boswood was once Ryan Boswood, a young central Queenslander who left the Catholic faith and converted to Islam last year after becoming curious about the religion in the aftermath of September 11.

    "Once I started researching for myself and making my own decisions in regards to researching and reading, I came to my own understanding and realise the beauty of Islam," he said.

    But his realisation did not come straight away, as his first reaction after the terrorist attacks in 2001 was to join the Army to fight terrorists.

    "After I saw September 11, I did go to join the army, unfortunately I was asthmatic and so I didn't get let in obviously," he told Queensland ABC TV's Stateline program.

    "But at the time, I didn't really understand Muslims or Islam and I had no way of knowing what Islam was about - I referred to Muslims with some very bad names, I will be honest.

    "But the Bible basically pushed me to Islam because I had so many unanswered questions and I found the answer in the Koran."

    Following this week's meeting of Muslim leaders and Prime Minister John Howard in Canberra, Muslim community leaders say they are committed to weeding out extremists.

    Uzair Akbar believes that if there are any radical cells developing in Queensland, mosques like his will play a key role in finding them.

    "We can't be complacent," he said. "We have to look out. We have to be very, very careful.

    "If we see anyone talking about violence or backing up the acts of violence then we will inform the authorities."

    Dave R.
 
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