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Cleric stood down over hate speech

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 22/11/2016

An Auckland Muslim cleric under fire over his anti-Semitic speeches has been sacked from his role with the Federation of Islamic Associations.

Shaykh Dr Mohammad Anwar Sahib has been widely condemned and is being investigated by the Human Rights Commission over the comments made as part of sermons on his Manukau mosque's YouTube page.

The Federation of Islamic Associations on Wednesday said it had permanently stood him down from his role as secretary of the association's religious advisory board.

"FIANZ condemns and rejects any form of anti-Semitic and hate speech. In addition, FIANZ will not tolerate any derogatory comments and speeches made about women," federation president Hazim Arafeh said in a statement.

He said the organisation opposed all teaching and promotion of "intolerance, prejudice and discrimination against the followers of any faith" and was co-operating with the Human Rights Commission.

Dr Sahib told Radio New Zealand his comments had been misrepresented and taken out of context when they were published in a compilation on the Whale Oil blog.

Ethnic Communities Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, who earlier condemned the statements, welcomed the federation's decision, saying it was the right thing to do.

"Ordinary New Zealanders have written to me saying hate speech should not be tolerated in New Zealand," he said.

New Zealand Ahmadiyya Muslim Community president Bashir Khan called Dr Sahib's statments un-Islamic.

"Thankfully, the large majority of Muslims in New Zealand do not hold such intolerant or hateful views," he said.

"Islamic teachings enshrine freedom of belief and freedom of conscience."

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