Ibrahim Siddiq-Conlon has a message for Australians, whether they want to hear it or not. “One day Australia will be ruled by sharia, no doubt,” he declares. “That is why non-Muslims are worried, because they know one day they won’t be able to drink their beer, they won’t be able to eat their pork and they won’t be able to do their homosexual acts, because one day they know they will be controlled.”
Siddiq-Conlon sits on the steps of the NSW Parliament House, the location he has chosen to launch his rhetorical attack on democracy, which he describes as “an evil system of life”.
“Right now in the Western world we’re on the edge of a crisis, of extinction, because of democracy. OK, so don’t tell me democracy has the answers and is peaceful. Democracy is the reason for the world’s problems.”
Siddiq-Conlon is the face and voice of Sharia4Australia, a group formed in Sydney’s southwest to agitate for Islamic law, starting with the introduction of sharia courts and ending, in his ideal world, with Islamic rule.
While he claims to eschew violence, he unapologetically preaches hate. An online video posted by his group describes its members as “uncompromising [in] their disallegiance, disloyalty and hate for the disbelievers”.
“I hate the parliament. I hate [democracy] with a pure hate,” he says. Moreover, it is obligatory for all Muslims to reject democracy, because it is a challenge to God’s law: “They must hate it, speak out against it, and if that doesn’t work, take action against it.”
He is quietly spoken, polite and articulate; a master’s graduate in architecture from the University of Technology, Sydney; Adelaide-born, and raised in a Godfearing “fundamentalist”, he says, Christian family in rural NSW. He converted to Islam while a student, travelled to Indonesia, found a wife there, and returned to Australia with the full-blown zeal of so many converts. He formerly studied under the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama’ah Association, headed by Melbourne cleric Sheikh Mohammed Omran, but the association has recently moved to distance itself from his strident inflammatory message.
“I’m an Aussie, I’m a full-bred Aussie, you can’t get more Aussie than me,” he insists.
But his proclaimed love for Australia is followed quickly by a prediction that, ultimately, Muslims here will have to fight for Islamic law. He doubts the struggle will begin in the next 10 or 20 years, but hopes it will occur in his lifetime. “People don’t give up [their land without a fight]. There’s always been a fight. It is inevitable that one day there will be a struggle for Islam in Australia. We don’t shy away from it. Whether it means we get put in jail, kicked out of the country. If it means harm to us, so be it.”
Nor does his disavowal of violence extend to Australian troops in Afghanistan, who he describes as “evil”.
“Obviously I don’t support the killing of innocent people, but these American and Australian troops have gone there to kill Muslims. What do they expect? Yes, they deserve to die. Under sharia, yes they do. That is the judgment of sharia. They are eligible to be attacked.”
Sharia4Australia is affiliated with the British group Islam for UK, a radical Islamist organisation which was proscribed by the British government under its counter-terrorism laws in January 2010. Under those laws a group can be banned if it “commits or participates in acts of terrorism, prepares for, promotes or encourages terrorism or is otherwise concerned in terrorism” or if it “unlawfully glorifies the commission or preparation of acts of terrorism”. Islam for UK is led by cleric Anjem Choudary, whom Siddiq-Conlon names as a key spiritual mentor.