After being accused of being an extremist and terrorist-supporting organization, the Al Risalah Islamic Bookstore in Bankstown, which has found itself at the center of a media storm, has shut down.
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SMH The closure of the business has been blamed on a vendetta against the bookshop by some community members and alleged ”defamatory” statements made in the media about the store and its patrons.
Lawyer Zali Burrows, acting on behalf of the manager of the bookstore, Wisam Haddad, and three others, has filed a defamation action against Nationwide News, the publisher of The Daily Telegraph, over its coverage of the Muslim riots in the city last year.
”Sex used to sell; these days it’s Muslims and terrorists,” she said. ”My clients are taking a stand against irresponsible media that promote religious intolerance and discrimination that often leaves a carnage of reputations in its wake.”
The bookshop was also in the news earlier this year after Today Tonight filmed an altercation on the pavement outside. (Video below)
Many posts on the Al-Risalah Facebook page feature symbols and images associated with the global jihad movement. One such image is the one below, posted January 10, 2013, of two AK-47 rifles, a Koran, and a black banner associated with global jihad, under a caption saying “the Book Guides and the Sword Triumphs.”
Other posts are explicit in their sympathy for jihad and jihad supporters. The message below, dated November 12, 2012, expresses joy that Abu Qatada Al-Filastini, a radical Islamist sheikh affiliated with Al-Qaeda imprisoned in, the U.K., had been released on bail.
Al-Risalah is intensely concerned with the war in Syria and the jihad there. Messages on its Facebook page and lecturers speaking at the center have expressed admiration for the mujahideen fighting against the Assad regime in Syria, and have exhorted the Muslim community to donate money in order to assist them as well as the civilian victims of war in Syria. Photo below shows alleged Australian Muslims who are fighting on the side of the al-Qaeda-linked jihadist rebels in Syria.
Mr Haddad said the bookstore had closed because of a major loss of sales and negativity about its operations. He said the attention had ”caused an unjust stench about our store and its patrons, that we believe was perpetuated by both local and international media, which ran false statements and accusations that we are an extremist secretive organization … instigating hate crimes against other groups of the community”.
”All [these] defamatory lies [were] drilled into the hearts and minds of the public as well as most of our customers who [were] from both Muslim and non-Muslim backgrounds, who never returned to the shop after the bad publicity we received,” he said.