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Wave of disgust forces Australian Muslim group to cancel a webinar with the Taliban

Overwhelming wave of disgust forces Australian Muslim group to cancel planned webinar with the Taliban

  • Taliban figures were to speak at Australian Federation of Islamic Council webinar
  • Saturday’s event was to discuss ‘the future of Afghanistan’ and Australia’s role
  • Sparked widespread outrage and condemned by refugees and war veterans 
  • The event was cancelled on Thursday afternoon the group’s president said  

A prominent Muslim organisation in Australia has cancelled a live webinar in which they invited two top members of the Taliban to speak after public outrage. 

The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils had organised a line-up of keynote guests to speak at Saturday’s online event, which aims to discuss ‘the future of Afghanistan and our role, regardless of whether we are in favour or against ­recent ­developments’.

The speakers had included long-time Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen and senior figure Sayed Abdul Basir Sabiri. 

Two top members of the Taliban have been invited to address Australian Muslims (pictured Taliban members in Afghanistan

On Thursday afternoon AFIC released a letter saying Dr Rateb Jneid, the organisation’s president, had made the ‘executive decision’ to cancel the event. 

The group said it had invited the members of the Taliban to speak ‘in the hope of obtaining assurances for the human rights of minorities, the rights of women to employment and education and to dissuade Australians from travelling to the region with any wrongful intent’.

‘The event was not convened to legitimise any group or to offend any group,’ Dr Jneid added. 

‘The event… generated both support and criticism, publicly and privately… In view of these developments I have taken the executive decision to cancel the event,’ he said.  

Long-time Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen (pictured) is among the speakers

Long-time Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen (pictured) is among the speakers

News of the webinar had sparked public outrage.

‘This is absolutely appalling and it shouldn’t happen,’ 2GB breakfast host Ben Fordham fumed on his show on Thursday.

‘The Taliban is being given the chance to brainwash young Muslims right here in Australia.’  

Afghani refugees from the Hazara minority forced to flee the nation in the 1990s described the event as ‘completely inappropriate.’

‘To see faces like these on a prominent event like this is really traumatising,’ refugee advocate Sitarah Mohammadi told The Australian.

‘Our people have suffered so horrifically at their hands, and continue to do so to this day.’

Other speakers include AFIC president Rateb Jneid, National Grand Mufti of Australia Imam Abdul Quddoos Al Azhari will also be among the speakers and Islamic legal scholar Mohammad Naqib Jan.

Mr Jneid defended the event, saying it was chance for participants to find out what was happening in Afghanistan.

‘We have many families of Afghan background who are worried about their loved ones in Afghanistan and they want to hear about the intentions of the government there.’ he told the publication.

Promotion of this Saturday's live webinar (pictured) has sparked community outrage

Promotion of this Saturday’s live webinar (pictured) has sparked community outrage

Taliban fighters reclaimed power of Afghanistan in August following the collapse of the government as President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, bringing an end to a two-decade campaign to transform the country by the US and its allies, including Australia.

Afghans who have supported Australian Defence Force troops for many years as translators, security guards and assistants are still in the city and now face the possibility of imprisonment under Taliban rule.