Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Code Of Conduct For Australian Muslim Clerics

Members of the Prime Minister's Muslim Advisory Council want clerics to abide by a code of conduct in a bid to rein in radical imams. The council is working on a code of conduct for clerics, which it hopes to introduce next year. Council spokesman Yasser Soliman says the guidelines are in response to concerns from the community.
He says some people are worried that there are people appointing themselves as clerics when they are unqualified. "Some of them come from overseas, not being able to speak English, and they occupy thereafter a position of leadership," Mr Soliman said. "We don't think that people who can't speak English will be able to lead effectively in Australia because they can't be part of the solution when a problem arises." The idea of a set of guidelines was first discussed at a summit of Muslim leaders that was held in August. It has the backing of many moderate leaders but some imams are angry about the proposals, which include the monitoring of sermons. However, Mr Soliman believes very few clerics will refuse to participate in the new scheme. "We can't enforce it," he said. "I think most clerics will be happy to be on it and most of them will be happy to register and contribute to it. "Those that aren't, when people are thinking of employing their services they'll check the register and see well they're self-appointed or they're not recognised." Mr Soliman says the scheme will not further marginalise radical clerics. "Part of the approach that is being discussed is to try and develop a dialogue where you bring down the temperature of, I guess, their preachings," he said. He denies the plan amounts to religious censorship. "This happens in other religions as well," he said. "Similar education and upgrading of their education happens in Christian religion, rabbis go through similar things, so why should we be any different?"