Jan 09 2011
The nation’s peak Islamic group has warned that the radio licence of the Sydney-based Muslim station 2MFM, which has been accused of links to a ”radical cult”, should not be renewed because it is promoting ”sectarian fringe views”.
The Australian National Imams Council said the application by Muslim Community Radio Incorporated (MCRI) to continue running the station is misleading and falsely claims it has the support of mainstream Muslims.
The Grand Mufti of Australia, Sheikh Fehmi Naji El-Imam, has also warned the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) that 2MFM ”adheres to a doctrine that would lead many Muslims to feel that they are being accused of blasphemy and apostasy”.
”This is a very serious matter within our community and can lead to people being shunned and families being split. This leads to a serious erosion of the very social fabric of our community.”
But a 2MFM spokesman said it was a false accusation. He said it ”uses every opportunity to interact with the various backgrounds of the community and endeavours to represent their various interests and views”.
”[It] has been a leader and a pioneer with a reputable 15 years of service and thrives to satisfy the taste of its diverse listeners.”
The licence for 2MFM is due for renewal in May but even one of its founders, who wrote the station’s last renewal application in 2005, has distanced himself from the group, which is associated with the Islamic Charity Projects Association that is in turn linked with the controversial Muslim group known as Al-Ahbash.
Al-Ahbash was founded in Lebanon in the 1950s by an Ethiopian cleric. Its critics have said it is a fringe cult organisation and violent, claims the group has always denied.
The former insider, Mustapha Kara-Ali, a member of the Howard government’s Muslim reference group, agrees that they have become more of a ”cult” than a mainstream organisation.
”Why would the government hand over a radio licence to a cult? 2MFM operates as a closed system with some of it members and volunteers belonging to the Ahbash group, and this has adversely affected its ability to encourage participation from the general Muslim community,” he said.
”They have a major weapon in their hands and they are using it as a recruitment tool for their sect.
”The Darulfatwa association through which 2MFM holds its claim for community representation was set up by the Ahbash group with the majority of its member bodies initiated as dummy groups with the same inception date in 2004. In fact, a portion of the 2MFM premises was partitioned as an office for this new association.
”I was involved in the licence agreement, I served as a member of the initial board, but I do not think it should be renewed.
”I have come to realise they are a very controversial group with a static operational structure that has not kept up with the evolving Muslim community interest.”
The submission by the Imams Council, the only central Islamic body that holds key representation of about 100 religious leaders from around the country, also has the backing of 67 Muslim organisations consulted about the licence.
The submission said that 2MFM has given misleading information to the Australian Communications and Media Authority that is such a serious matter it should disqualify it from holding a radio licence. The spokesman for 2MFM said that was untrue.
A social researcher commissioned by the Imams Council to scrutinise the licence renewal documents found a number of the organisations listed as being members and supporting 2MFM were not real organisations and suggested an independent audit. He said the applicant clearly does not meet the criteria for the radio licence.