Australian Federation of Islamic Councils

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Australian Federation of Islamic Councils
Formation 1 January 1964; 54 years ago (1964-01-01)
Registration no. (ABN) 37 002 757 155[1]
Location
  • Sydney
Area served
Australia
President
Dr Rateb Jneid.[2]
Budget
$65 million[3]
Website muslimsaustralia.com.au

The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC) (also known as Muslims Australia[4]) was founded in 1964 as an umbrella group for various small Sunni Islamic groups and councils, and is a Sunni Islamic organisation. The mission of AFIC is to provide service to the community in a manner that is in accordance with the teachings of Islam and within the framework of Australian law, and to advocate for the Sunni Muslim community on matters that will affect the community's relevance, settlement and integration within Australian society. It is highly debatable whether AFIC represents Australian Muslims, as AFIC run organisations are very few, and their members are not elected by a majority Muslim vote.

It is reported that AFIC "sits on"' $65 million in assets.[3]

Membership[edit]

The main role of AFIC is to represent Sunni Islam and Muslims of Australia as one "Ummah" to the government and other bodies nationally and internationally. AFIC coordinates and provides resources for activities of its State Islamic Councils and member Sunni Islamic societies.

The definition of Muslim according to AFIC member organisation, the Islamic Council of Western Australia, is "any person who conforms to the teachings of the Qur'an and Ahli Sunnah and Jamma' and shall specifically exclude any person or organisation, professing adherence to the Ahmadi, Lahori, Qadiani or Bahai schools of thought or of any similar inclination."[5]

The member organisations of AFIC are:

– and

  • the Islamic Council of Northern Territory.[6]

Leadership[edit]

In July 2016, Keysar Trad was elected President of the AFIC following the standing down of the previous president, Hafez Kassem.[7] However it was reported in February 2017 that following a bid to take-over AFIC, which involved the changing of locks and the passing of no-confidence motions against the current executive, Trad has not been able to enter his office.[3][8]

In March 2017, it was reported the NSW Supreme Court had reinstalled the AFIC executive members, with Trad returned as president. Mohammed El-Mouelhy, head of the Halal Certification Authority (a competitor of AFIC), was installed as treasurer.[9]

Professor Shahjahan Khan, former Vice-President of the Islamic Council of Queensland, has said that to save AFIC from "self-destruction", the younger generation of Muslims need to work to rebuild the organisation.[10]

In May 2017, it was reported that Dr Rateb Jneid was elected president of the AFIC.[2]

Advocacy[edit]

In 2005 Ameer Ali, president of the AFIC, said that governments should, "rid the community of radical elements" and also prevent radical speakers coming to Australia.[11]

In 2011 the AFIC advocated that Australian Muslims be able to marry, divorce and conduct financial transactions under the principles of sharia law,[12] claiming that Australian Muslims should enjoy "legal pluralism".[13]

In 2014 the AFIC has advocated for increased government funding for faith-based schools, as well as funding to establish services such as new halal and kosher food stores, as a means of helping Muslim Australians to settle in new areas.[14]

In August 2016, the President of the AFIC said students in AFIC schools are taught they should not practise sex until they are married – and it should not be with someone of the same sex as this is clearly spelt out in the Koran and the hadith.[15]

Halal certification[edit]

The AFIC is one of Australia's top four[16] halal accreditation certifiers[17] with AFIC having strict rules with regards to Islamic slaughter for animals[18] and for chickens.[19] It is speculated that AFIC earns up to $1 million a year from this halal certification.[20]

In February 2017 it was reported a that a group of former AFIC members, had staged a coup, have opened a new bank account and are collecting and spending halal certification fees. Fees reported to be worth millions of dollars.[8]

Schools[edit]

In 2015 AFIC controlled six schools. They are: the Malek Fahd Islamic School, NSW; the Islamic College of Melbourne, Vic; the Islamic College of Brisbane, Qld ; the Islamic College of South Australia, SA; the Langford Islamic College, WA and the Islamic School of Canberra, ACT.[21]

In 2010 the AFIC received $5.2 million from an Islamic School which is largely government funded.[22] In 2012 the NSW government demanded the repayment of $9 million passed on to the AFIC.[23][24]

In 2012 a government audit discovered a number of irregularities relating to financial transfers between AFIC and its schools in Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra and Adelaide. Issues identified included the transfer of large sums of money, the lack of appropriate documentation and rental-payment concerns.[25] AFIC's president Ikebal Patel and assistant-treasurer Ashraf Ali were both stood down.[4]

The schools received $42 million in government funding in 2013, plus $21.5 million for new buildings and other capital works, during the previous four years. Each of the schools has management and accounting-integrity issues.[26][21]

In 2015, it was reported that there has been a long-running dispute between the Islamic College of Brisbane and the AFIC, which owns the land, has resulted in members of the school board and principal being dismissed or resigning. The college has been asked to show-cause that it, "complies with registration and accreditation requirements".[27]

In May 2015 AFIC schools were described as being in the midst of leadership crisis[28] along with allegations of fraud.[29]

In 2015, the Malek Fahd Islamic School refused to repay the Department of Education. Six schools associated with the AFIC are to be audited, including the Malek Fahd Islamic School the Islamic College of Brisbane, the Islamic College of Melbourne, the Islamic College of South Australia, the Islamic School of Canberra and Langford Islamic College in Western Australia.[30] Claims have also been made relating to financial impropriety, gender discrimination and teachers with fundamentalist principles.[31]

In November 2015 the Malek Fahd Islamic School sought an injunction in the NSW Supreme Court to remove the governance of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils.[32][33] In mid November 2015 following a federal government audit, with the department concluding AFIC operates the schools for its own profit. Six AFIC affiliated schools were issued with non-compliance notices.[34] Ultimately this could lead to the schools losing their government funding[35] and in December 2015 government funding for the Islamic College of South Australia, was frozen.[36]

In February 2016 the federal government said it will revoke its $20 million funding to the Malek Fahd Islamic School. It was reported that the "feud" between the school board and the AFIC had escalated to the point where security was required at the school for "fear it could escalate into violence".[37][38]

In February 2016 it was reported that separate inquiries into AFIC's Malek Fahd Islamic School and Islamic College of Brisbane had uncovered serious irregularities.[39][40]

The Islamic School of Canberra will cease operating, following Federal and Territory Governments withdrawing support because the school had not been able to demonstrate that the $1 million in recurrent funding, was only being spent on education.[41][42]

In March 2016 both the Malek Fahd Islamic School,[43] and the Islamic School of Canberra cut their ties with the AFIC[44] and with other Australian Islamic schools registering new constitutions and declaring independence from the AFIC.[43]

In February 2017 the federal Minister for Education and Training, Simon Birmingham said the Islamic College of South Australia had failed meet obligations relating to governance, to financial management and to regular reporting. He said federal funding for the school will cease in April 2017.[45] In March 2017 it was reported that, following a police request, in relation to the more than $1 million potentially missing and the high rentals paid to AFIC, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission have been undertaking financial investigations. A financial advisory firm is also carrying-out a separate forensic examination of the Islamic College of South Australia.[46]

In March 2017 AFIC listed 7 Australian schools as AFIC schools.[47]

Controversies[edit]

In the late 1980s, AFIC received more than $100,000 in funding per year from Gaddafi's Libyan regime. AFIC's then-leader, Sheikh Taj El-Din Hilaly, had ties to Libya.[48]

In 2003 the AFIC and the Supreme Islamic Council of Halal Meat in Australia were involved in a 'poisonous battle' to control the millions of dollars in halal meat trade rights, granted by the Saudi King.[49]

In 2013 the AFIC vice-president was suspended from his position,[50] and AFIC's bank froze its funds.[51]

In 2014 the founding president of the AFIC identified internal dysfunction and corruption as the cause of a long running feud within the organisation, which he says has disenfranchised Islamic councils around the country.[52]

In 2015 it was reported that a power struggle had developed within AFIC with competing demands by those advocating conservatism and those advocating liberalism.[53] Dr Jamal Rifi believes AFIC, as Australia's peak Muslim body, is "not capable of providing the leadership its communities need".[54] Other senior members of the Muslim community have voiced similar concerns.[55]

In December 2015 the AFIC president resigned after being accused of inappropriately using $100,000 of AFIC funds for legal expenses and for "rampantly spending" on unapproved overseas trips. AFIC's treasurer also resigned following this unauthorised spending.[56]

In March 2016 AFIC dropped legal proceedings, which had lasted several years, against former president Ikebal Patel.[57]

In November 2016, after the Australian Charities and Not-For-Profits Commission revoked the charity status of an AFIC subsidiary, it said it was concerned that AFIC, "may not have been operating as a not-for-profit entity".[58]

In February 2017 Trad and his supporters sued nine others over control of the AFIC. Supreme Court Justice Robert McDougall said it was "absolutely appalling" that AFIC was preoccupied with "internal squabbling".[3][8] Trad and his supporters won the case.[9]

In February 2017, in response to a question regarding the meaning of Quran Chapter 4, Surah 34, the president of the AFIC said a husband can beat his wife, but only as "a last resort".[59]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Australian Federation of Islamic Councils". 
  2. ^ a b "Australian Federation of Islamic Councils' new leader Rateb Jneid faced gun charges in 2014". The Daily Telegraph. 9 May 2017. 
  3. ^ a b c d Olding, Rachel (20 February 2017). "'Like a script from a mafia movie': Peak Muslim body AFIC descends into turmoil". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 27 February 2017. 
  4. ^ a b "Muslim peak body suspends officers". The Australian. 17 December 2012. Retrieved 23 January 2014. 
  5. ^ Constitution of The Islamic Council of Western Australia Incorporated, ICWA website. Retrieved 21 April 2016.
  6. ^ "The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils – 2014 annual report" (PDF). AFIC. Retrieved 11 March 2017. 
  7. ^ "Muslim leader stands down amid school brawl". 
  8. ^ a b c Olding, Rachel (23 February 2017). "AFIC turmoil deepens as 'usurpers' take over halal income". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 27 February 2017. 
  9. ^ a b Begley, Patrick (3 March 2017). "Ousted Islamic leaders wrest back control after AFIC 'coup'". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 4 March 2017. 
  10. ^ Khan, Shahjahan (26 February 2017). "How to save AFIC from self-destruction". Australasian Muslim Times. Retrieved 13 March 2017. 
  11. ^ http://www.theage.com.au/news/sushi-das/between-two-worlds/2005/07/27/1122143904716.html Between two worlds
  12. ^ Jacquelyn Hole (17 May 2011). "Muslim group wants sharia law in Australia". ABC. Retrieved 24 January 2014. 
  13. ^ Patricia Karvelas (17 May 2011). "Muslims to push for sharia". The Australian. Retrieved 24 January 2014. 
  14. ^ John Masanauskas (17 May 2011). "Call for taxpayers to fund Muslim schools". The Adelaide Advertiser. Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
  15. ^ http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/education/islamic-school-alfaisal-college-has-neverhad-a-child-who-was-gay/news-story/a79078065cc974276c9c0f8a50144e19 The Australian (paid subscription)
  16. ^ Johnson, Chris (28 December 2014). "Why halal certification is in turmoil". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 8 January 2015. 
  17. ^ http://muslimsaustralia.com.au/halal-accreditation-2/
  18. ^ "What is halal – a guide for non-Muslims". Islamic Council of Victoria. Archived from the original on 28 December 2014. Retrieved 28 December 2014. 
  19. ^ "AFIC's rules and condition for slaughtering chicken" (PDF). AFIC. Retrieved 31 December 2014. 
  20. ^ Masanauskas, John (18 July 2014). "Halal food outrage from anti-Islam critics". Herald Sun. Retrieved 29 January 2015. 
  21. ^ a b Shanahan, Leo (25 February 2016). "A very grim report card for Muslim schools management". The Australian. Retrieved 25 February 2016. 
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  27. ^ http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/islamic-college-of-brisbane-investigated-over-phantom-debt-secret-payments/story-fnihsrf2-1227283681092 Islamic College of Brisbane investigated over ‘phantom debt’, secret payments
  28. ^ "Islamic schools in midst of leadership crisis with principals sacked, accusations of mismanagement of taxpayer funds". ABC News. 7 May 2015. Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  29. ^ Shanahan, Leo (22 May 2015). "Police probe Islamic College of Brisbane over alleged fraud". The Australian. Retrieved 22 May 2015. 
  30. ^ Hall, Louise (15 October 2015). "Islamic school refuses to repay millions to Department of Education". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 19 October 2015. 
  31. ^ Ray, Chris (24 October 2015). "The controversies raging inside our Islamic schools". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 26 October 2015. 
  32. ^ Shanahan, Leo (30 October 2015). "Largest Muslim school Malek Fahd locks out chairman". The Australian. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  33. ^ Hall, Louise (3 November 2015). "Malek Fahd Islamic School crisis deepens as legal action launched". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  34. ^ "Islamic councils peak body beset with infighting, claims of financial impropriety". 25 November 2015. 
  35. ^ Bagshaw, Eryk (13 November 2015). "Six schools threatened with having their government funding cut". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 13 November 2015. 
  36. ^ "SA Islamic college hit with funding freeze". Australian News Channel Pty. Archived from the original on 2015-12-22. 
  37. ^ Benson, Simon (9 February 2016). "Malek Fahd Islamic school: Government axes all Commonwealth funding". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 9 February 2016. 
  38. ^ Shanahan, Leo (9 February 2016). "Islamic school Malek Fahd has $15m in funding taken away". The Australian. Retrieved 9 February 2016. 
  39. ^ Safi, Michael (24 February 2016). "Malek Fahd school accused of unexplained payments to Islamic body and staff". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 February 2016. 
  40. ^ Shanahan, Leo (11 February 2016). "Islamic College of Brisbane 'misused taxpayer funds'". The Australian. Retrieved 24 February 2016. 
  41. ^ "Canberra Islamic School students being 'punished' by possible closure". ABC News. 1 March 2016. Retrieved 2 March 2016. 
  42. ^ Burgess, Katie (1 March 2016). "Parents of Islamic School of Canberra students back administration". The Canberra Times. Retrieved 2 March 2016. 
  43. ^ a b Booth, Meredith (10 March 2016). "Schools cut ties to Federation of Islamic Councils". The Australian. Retrieved 16 March 2016. 
  44. ^ Burgess, Katie (11 March 2016). "Islamic School of Canberra scrambles to find $1.5 million in funding". The Canberra Times. Retrieved 16 March 2016. 
  45. ^ Scopelianos, Sarah (16 February 2017). "Islamic College of South Australia loses funding after failing to comply with conditions". ABC News. Retrieved 16 February 2017. 
  46. ^ Edwards, Verity (10 March 2017). "ASIC investigates financially stricken Islamic college's missing $1m". The Australian. Retrieved 13 March 2017. 
  47. ^ "AFIC Schools". Australian Federation of Islamic Councils. Retrieved 11 March 2017. 
  48. ^ "Gaddafi sending $140,000 a year to Australian Muslims". The Sydney Morning Herald. 15 December 1987. p. 1. 
  49. ^ "Revealed: the Saudis' paymaster in Australia". The Sydney Morning Herald. 10 September 2005. Retrieved 1 January 2015. 
  50. ^ "Mr Ikebal Patel". Australian Muslims. Retrieved 28 November 2014. 
  51. ^ "AFIC funds frozen". SBS. 22 August 2013. Retrieved 31 December 2014. 
  52. ^ Shanahan, Leo (25 September 2014). "Former chief of Islamic body warns of rise of Islamic fascism". The Australian. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  53. ^ Morton, Rick (21 May 2015). "Foreigners driving Muslims apart". The Australian. Retrieved 21 May 2015. 
  54. ^ Le Grand, Chip (23 May 2015). "Australia an estranged country to many Muslims including Sheik Omran". The Australian. Retrieved 23 May 2015. 
  55. ^ Morton, Rick (30 May 2015). "In Muslim Australia, there's divide and no respected rule". The Australian. Retrieved 11 March 2017. 
  56. ^ Edwards, Verity (26 December 2015). "Federation of Islamic Councils chief accused of improper spending". The Australian. Retrieved 14 January 2016. 
  57. ^ Oriti, Thomas (31 March 2016). "Islamic council federation drops legal case against former president". ABC News. 
  58. ^ Bita, Natasha (27 November 2016). "Islamic Development Organisation: Auditors revoke Islamic fund's charity status". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 12 December 2016. 
  59. ^ "Wife beating okay says senior Islamic leader". TenPlay. 23 February 2017. Retrieved 25 February 2017. 

External links[edit]