With this decision, Australia once again shows itself to be far outside the parameters of international law, making security assessments based on a system completely lacking transparency.
I once spoke at this Sydney Islamic centre last year and found an important space to engage Muslims on issues related to the Middle East and re-defining the stereotype of all Jews being blind Zionists. The departure of Sheik Mansour will leave many local Muslims in a state of shock and anger:
AUSTRALIA has defied a United Nations request by ordering the deportation an Iranian Muslim cleric on security grounds before the UN assesses the alleged denial of his human rights.
Sheikh Mansour Leghaei lost a 13-year legal battle to stay in Australia yesterday when the Immigration Minister, Chris Evans, refused to intervene against ASIO’s adverse security assessment of the moderate preacher, who has raised his four children in Sydney.
Dr Leghaei, who has never been told why ASIO suspects him, has been given six weeks to leave the country, angering the 1200 members of his congregation at his Islamic centre at Earlwood, which faces closure without him.
”I hope God forgives him because he does not know any better,” Dr Leghaei said of Senator Evans at the University of Sydney. Here the sheikh was flanked by one of his many Christian supporters, the Anglican priest Dave Smith, and Ben Saul, one of the human rights barristers who sent a petition to the UN a month ago.
A week later, on April 21, the UN’s Human Rights Committee asked the Australian government not to deport Dr Leghaei while it considered his case, a process that could take a year.
ASIO had accused Dr Leghaei of undisclosed ”acts of foreign interference” but, because he is a non-citizen, Australian law entitles him to no explanation – a position confirmed by the High Court. But Associate Professor Saul, the co-director of the university’s centre for international law, said Australia was in violation of six articles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
”In other countries, like Britain and in Europe, affected persons are given an opportunity to see at least a summary of the evidence against them. In the sheikh’s case, he’s been given access to nothing whatsoever.”
Insisting he was no spy or terrorist, Dr Leghaei said: ”I think my 16 years of peaceful life in Australia is my best evidence.”
Senator Evans decided not to deport Dr Leghaei’s wife, Marzieh, and 20-year-old Ali, the only one of their children who is not a citizen. But Dr Leghaei said it was an effective deportation of his 14-year-old Australian-born daughter, Fatima, because she would need her parents.
He addressed hundreds from his congregation last night.
Senator Evans said national security must be paramount. ”Many people have expressed their support for Dr Leghaei and I understand that my decision will disappoint his friends and members of his local community. The fact remains that he is the subject of an adverse security assessment.”
In 1995, authorities at Sydney Airport secretly photocopied Dr Leghaei’s exercise book containing notes on scholars’ explanations of jihad. But the Federal Court later accepted his translation, not ASIO’s which, he says, added inflammatory material about the killing of infidels.