The Australian national news agency has reported that six Australian-based Muslim clerics, all advisors to the former Prime Minter John Howard, are being paid by the government of Saudi Arabia although they assert their independence. According to the report:
Six Australian-based Muslim clerics are on the Saudi government’s payroll, receiving allowances of up to $2000 a month. The clerics receive between 3500 and 7000 Saudi riyal ($1975) a month, some through the Saudi embassy in Canberra and some from Riyadh’s Dawah (preaching) Office, as part of Saudi Arabia’s campaign to transform its image in the west, News Limited newspapers reported today. The six leaders of the Islamic community are understood to be former Howard government adviser Amin Hady; Melbourne Somali imam Isse Musse; Yousef Hussein, from al-Taqwa Mosque in Melbourne’s south-west; Indian imam Mohammad Anas, from Auburn’s Omar Mosque in Sydney’s west; Mohammad Mahet Dahir, from the Albanian Australian Islamic Society, and West Australian Somali community leader Mohammad Abdullah Ahmed. But Sheik Hady told News Ltd there were as many as 14 others in the country being paid. He said the allowance did not come with conditions. “So far, they never tell any of the preachers what to say and what to do,” the Indonesian imam said. “We are fully independent of what we do … they never instruct that this is what we should teach and this is what we should not. I don’t think there is any notion with Wahhabism being imposed by anyone.” Saudi Arabia has pumped more than $120 million into Australia since the 1970s to fund mosques, Islamic groups and clerics to propagate Wahhabism, upon which the kingdom of Saudi Arabia was founded and which is the dominant form of Islam found in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. ASIO held no concerns about the clerics, Nes Ltd reported, citing security sources.
Saudi religious institutions play important roles in the propagation of Saudi “Wahabbi” Islam and were created largely by Muslim Brothers fleeing action against them in their respective home countries. The relationship between the Australian imams in the report and these institutions, however, is not known at the current time.
(Source: AAP Newsfeed May 19, 2008 Monday 2:16 AM AEST NSW: Six clerics on Saudi payroll – report)