SYDNEY (JTA) — The mufti of Australia visited Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in the Gaza Strip, triggering condemnation from the country’s Jewish community and a potential government probe.
Dr. Ibrahim “Abu Mohammed” Salem said he wanted to learn from Hamas leaders in leading a delegation of Australian sheiks and scholars to Gaza last week and meeting Haniyeh.
“We came here in order to learn from Gaza . . . to learn steadfastness, sacrifice, and the defense of one’s rights from them,” Salem said, according to a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute.
The military wing of Hamas is listed as a proscribed terrorist organization by the Australian government.
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs said authorities would investigate any allegations of unlawful behavior.
Peter Wertheim, the executive director of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, said Salem could learn nothing from Hamas rulers that would have any legitimate application in Australia.
“His visit and his comments undermine Australia’s efforts to build a peaceful, inclusive and democratic multicultural society,” Wertheim said.
Salem, speaking about his visit, said, “We feel like we are on cloud nine, we feel like we are on top of the world,” according to MEMRI.