Sydney “Sharia” whipping men found guilty of assault
By: Stephanie Gardiner
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald
Four men have been found guilty of giving a Sydney electrician 40 lashes with a cable, which they said was a punishment under Islamic law for drinking alcohol and using drugs.
Zakaryah Raad, Tolga Cifci, Wassim Fayad, and Cengiz Coskun were today convicted of several charges relating to whipping Cristian Martinez, a convert to Islam, in July 2011.
Magistrate Brian Maloney told Burwood Local Court on Thursday it was an extremely unusual case.
“Until now, assaults occasioned in the course of a religious practice involving the mortification of the flesh have not been before any court in any common law country.”
Mr Maloney said that, from the outset, prosecutors were clear the case was not about sharia, or about the Islamic faith.
The court heard Mr Martinez drank alcohol and took drugs on July 15 and 16, 2011, before he called Fayad, who had been his spiritual leader, and said he wanted help to get off drugs and make a fresh start.
Fayad said: “Yeah, it means I’m going to tie you up, brother, that’s what I’m going to do.
“I’m going to tie you up, OK, and that’s what you need brother, because now you need this level because you’re not going anywhere.”
Fayad called Raad and told him to go to Mr Martinez’s western Sydney townhouse to check on him, where Raad sent Fayad a message saying something like: “Allam, the sharia bring right material. It’s important.”
Fayad, Cifci and Coskun then went to Mr Martinez’s unit late on July 16 and Fayad whipped him while the others held him down on a bed.
“Mr Fayad counted out the lashes and when he came up to number 10 … he gave Mr Martinez a break,” Mr Maloney said.
“Mr Martinez went into the bathroom and vomited.
“Mr Martinez was then forced back onto the bed and given 10 further lashes by Mr Fayad. He was given another break and went to the bathroom again.”
After the whipping, Mr Martinez sought advice from Sheikh Omar el Banna, the then Imam of the Omar Mosque in Auburn.
In a statement to the court, the sheikh said the men’s actions were not sanctioned by the Islamic community in any way.
“I said [to Mr Martinez] … ‘This is ridiculous. You can’t apply this ruling, this is wrong. This isn’t what should be happening’,” he said.
Mr Martinez said he consented to the 1st, 11th and 21st lash, but Magistrate Maloney found that his consent had been withdrawn.
Raad was convicted of assault occasioning actual bodily harm in company, stealing and two counts of intimidation, while the others were convicted of the assault and stealing charges, related to a CCTV hard drive they took from Mr Martinez’s home.
The men will be sentenced at a later date.
As Fayed left the court and was bundled into a car, he told reporters, “I love him for the sake of Allah”, referring to Mr Martinez.
EXCLUSIVE: “I will never forgive them” – Interview with the victim of the ‘Sharia whipping’
BY: Ahmed Kilani
July 21 2011
MuslimVillage.com has managed to secure an exclusive interview with Chris Martinez the Muslim convert who was the victim of a savage vigilante style attack misguidedly attributed to Sharia Law by a group of 4 offenders.
AK: Firstly, thanks very much for granting us this interview in these very hard circumstances. Can I start by asking you, how long have you been Muslim for?
CM: About 3 years, I’ve been reverted to Islam.
AK: I understand that one of the guys that was allegedly involved in the attack was someone that you knew?
CM: Yes that’s true.
AK: Was it someone who helped you convert, and talked to you about Islam?
AK: So you were friends with him, in other words?
CM: Yes. 100%. We were friends.
AK: And how do you feel about him now?
CM: Words cannot describe the anger at the moment that I have. I will never forgive him but I guess Allah will judge him on the Day of Judgment, and Allah can forgive him.
AK: Can you describe to me what happened on the night you were lashed?
CM: I have a problem with drinking that I have been trying to overcome. I had been drinking at home with a friend that morning. I am not sure how, but I know that somehow somebody must have seen me drinking. I went to bed at about 7:30. At 1am in the morning, I was woken up by my so-called friend who had another 3 individuals with him.
CM: What did he say to you?
AK: He told met that basically I would be getting 40 lashes as punishment for drinking alcohol.
AK: What went through your mind when he said that?
CM: At first I thought he was joking. But once they grabbed me and put me on the bed, I knew they were serious. They started whipping me. I was crying, screaming. In a lot, a lot of pain.
AK: I understand it was the neighbours that called the police because they heard the screaming?
CM: I believe so, yes.
AK: Did you need hospital attention?
CM: The ambulance came, but I was more in shock than anything else. I was in shock, I was in a lot of pain. I sought medical attention afterwards, but I didn’t go to hospital.
AK: What has been the reaction from members of the Muslim community to what happened to you?
CM: I’ve had nothing but full 100% support with this situation. They are in shock and can’t believe what happened.
AK: You were saying to me earlier that you didn’t want this to be reflective of Islam or Muslims, that Islam’s helped you a lot in your life.
CM: Yes of course. Islam is a beautiful religion, it’s a great guideline to life, it’s a real way to live your life. I mean I’m not perfect. I’ve done things in the past that I shouldn’t have done. But in saying that, Islam help me get through all of that, helped me get through my past, and I now I believe I’m a better person because of Islam. This was about some individuals not religion.
AK: How does your family feel about it?
CM: My wife is upset. Alhamdulilah my kids are too small to understand what’s going on at the moment. My wife has been very supportive and helpful. She is very, very hurt about what’s happened.
AK: Your family wasn’t there the night it happened?
AK: What would you like to see happen now?
CM: I would like to see all of them convicted by the legal system we live by, by the law of Australia, and to make sure this doesn’t happen to anybody else again.
AK: I understand the mainstream media’s been really hounding you. Can you tell me about what they’ve been doing and saying?
CM: They’ve been very pushy. Extremely, extremely pushy. They’ve made false comments, they’ve published my name, put out pictures of me without my permission, got my phone number somehow and rang me at crazy hours. They are parked outside my house day and night and threatening to release stories about my past. I feel like a victim twice over from their hounding and threats of blackmail.
AK: Have they offered you any money?
CM: Yes, they have. I did not accept any money. This is not about money. I only decided to go to the media, at this moment, with the right people, yourself and Robert Ovadia from Seven news just to get my story out there, so people that want to know, they [will] get it, and I can move on with my life, and just end it.
AK: May Allah (God) make it easy for you, Chris.
CM: InshAllah (God Willing) He does.
AK: Thank you very much for your time. Assalamu Alaykum (Peace be with you).
CM: Wa alaykumusalam (Peace be with you as well)
AUDIO from the interview
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