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Australia reviews visa of Islamic scholar who preached about death for homosexual acts

world Updated: Jun 14, 2016 12:01 IST
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People gather at a vigil in solidarity for the victims of the Orlando nightclub mass shooting at Taylor Square in Sydney.(Reuters)

Australia is urgently reviewing the visa of a British Islamic scholar who toured Orlando earlier this year and had preached in 2013 that “death is the sentence” for homosexual acts.

Farrokh Sekaleshfar, a senior Shia Muslim scholar, is currently giving a series of lectures at an Islamic centre in Sydney on the topic of spirituality.

Sekaleshfar said in a lecture in Michigan in 2013 that in an Islamic society, the death penalty should be carried out for homosexuals who engaged in sodomy.

“Out of compassion, let’s get rid of him now, because he’s contaminating society,” he said, according to a recording available online.

There is no evidence of any link between his comments and the American Muslim man who killed 49 people in a gay nightclub in Orlando on Sunday, the deadliest mass shooting in the United States.

Sekaleshfar told Reuters on Monday that he condemned the Orlando shooting as a “barbaric act of terror that was in no way justified”.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told reporters on Tuesday he has “zero tolerance for people to come to Australia who preach hatred” and his government was reviewing Sekaleshfar’s visa “as we speak”.

The immigration office did not immediately respond to a query about how long that review would take, while Sekaleshfar could not immediately be contacted after Turnbull’s comments.

Sekaleshfar said his comments in 2013 were made in the context of a lecture on Islamic law and homosexuality, and should “not have been interpreted as a call for any Tom, Dick, or Harry to carry out a sentence wherever, whenever they like”.

In the lecture, Sekaleshfar said: “There is nothing to be embarrassed about this. Death is the sentence.”

“Islam doesn’t accept people’s faith to be compromised, to be threatened and it has to be taken seriously,” he said. “With homosexuals it is the same.”

Sekaleshfar gave a different lecture in Orlando in March.

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