Friday, 11 May 2007
Canberra's Sheik Swaiti scandal grew legs today as it was announced the the sheik had been sacked. The Special Broadcasting Corporation's (SBS) Kathy Novak visited the Abu Bakr Mosque in the Australian capital and spoke with some of this little drama's actors, who of course include Kurt Kennedy.
Kennedy was the man assaulted earlier this week by a group of young men, one of whom was the son of the mosque's imam. As he did last time the ruckus hit the news, Swaiti declined to appear for the media. But Novak didn't retire empty-handed.
Mohammed Berjaoui, a vice president of the Islamic Society of ACT, did talk. He has been accused by Swaiti's supporters of being connected with Saddam Hussein, and they've got a photo to prove it. "This person is a Saddam henchman," says one man. Berjaoui admits that he was at a meeting that included Hussein — in his role of interpreter.
Novak also spoke with Swaiti supporters, who said they had confidence in their spiritual leader. They didn't think he had said anything wrong. "I've been coming here every Friday for five years," says this man. "I've never heard him give a sermon inciting violence."
They said emphatically that he was a good man. "He's doing his job, and he will be doing his job forever."