victorian islamic rights stifle yours

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    It was established in order to promote intercultural and interfaith harmony in Victoria in support of democratic ideals, in itself a worthy aim. Victoria has established an Equal Opportunity Commission which is empowered to develop programs under this legislation. One of their programs, called "Stand up to Racism", promotes positive regard for Islam's stand on universal human rights.

    The complaint against the two pastors has had to be mediated through this same Victorian Equal Opportunity Commission, but attempts at achieving conciliation failed. Following this the Islamic Council of Victoria brought the case before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, a legal court which has the power to impose a significant fine against the two pastors, if they are found guilty. The case is due to be heard at the Tribunal in mid-October 2003.

    To pursue their complaint, the well-funded Islamic Council of Victoria has retained the services of the prestigious Australian law firm, Allens, Arthur Robinson, which has offices in seven countries throughout the Asia-Pacific Region.

    The case is one of the first to be brought under the new legislation and its result will set an important precedent which will have influence and ramifications not only in Victoria, but also in other parts of -Australia Many evangelical Christians in the state fear that the Islamic Council of Victoria is using the case to stifle all criticism of Islam or Muslims, in effect bringing in a pseudo-blasphemy law to protect Islam. Similar legislation against religious 'hate speech' is currently before parliament in both New Zealand and the -UK and is prompting serious concern from libertarians and supporters of free speech who fear the similar misuse of such laws.


    The fact that one of the defendants is Pastor Daniel Scot is bitterly ironic.
    Scot, a Pakistani Christian, became one of the first victims of Pakistan's notorious blasphemy laws when in 1986 he was charged with insulting the Islamic prophet Muhammad, which under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code carries a death sentence. The blasphemy laws have attracted widespread condemnation from human rights groups and the international community for their harsh punishments and the way they have been misused to target vulnerable religious minorities

    Scot had been threatened by the council of the college in Okara, Pakistan, where he worked, that a charge would be brought against him unless he converted to Islam. The charge was brought after he refused to do so and explained his belief that his spiritual salvation could come only from Jesus Christ, and not Muhammad. Political pressure meant that Daniel was never prosecuted. However, he was forced to flee to Australia with his family to escape the threat of Islamic extremists who have since murdered four Christians accused of blasphemy in Pakistan.

    Now seventeen years later, having fled religious discrimination in Pakistan, Scot again finds himself accused of a similar crime in :-:Australia::-, the country in which he originally found refuge. This is an indication of the growing trend to place Islamic teaching and Muslim actions beyond the bounds of criticism, not only in the Islamic world, but also, as a result of misguided ideas of political correctness, in the West as well. It is a bitter twist that Scot, an Asian Christian, should face this accusation from three white Australian converts to Islam who unannounced attended the March 2002 seminar (intended for the religious instruction of Christians only - and as such should fall outside the remit of the Act) and took offence resulting in the complaint. In a painfully ironic reversal a law designed to prevent racial and religious abuse under which the Equal Opportunity Commission operates is being used by three white men to attack an Asi
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