Not so fast, buddy. An Islamic group claiming it’s exempt from Australian law has just found out it is not. Two brothers linked to an extremist Islamic group in Sydney have been convicted of contempt of court and fined more than $100,000 after claiming they were “exempt” from Australian law.
Daily MailBrothers Mustapha and Diaa Kara-Ali illegally cleared land and developed on a bush block in Sydney’s north west, claiming the Islamic spiritual group they ran on the property was exempt from Australian law.
The NSW Land and Environment Court heard Mustapha Kara-Ali and his brother Diaa Kara-Ali had a “religious issue with the court” and had ignored court orders to cease construction at a site in Colo in north-west Sydney, for which they did not have development consent.
Mustapha Kara-Ali, described as the Imam or spiritual leader of fringe Islamic group Diwan Al Dawla, told the court it was “religiously repugnant and obscene” to be ordered by Hawkesbury City Council to do or not do anything on the land, as it related to “a matter of religious practice”.
He claimed the council was trying to “coerce us” by using the courts and it amounted to an “outright violation of our religious freedom” because the court was not a “secular body”. Justice Terence Sheahan’s orders were ignored and the brothers appeared at Sydney’s Land and Environmental Court on Thursday where they were convicted of 12 counts of contempt of court.
The brothers escaped a jail term but instead were fined $100,000. According to the ABC, the men were seen shouting and heckling before being handed the fine.
The pair’s lawyer ordered the men to leave the courtroom and to return once they had calmed down and were ready to be quiet. When leaving the court, Mustapha Kara-Ali claimed ‘religious persecution’ and said: ‘our religion is a crime’. (DING! DING! DING! He gets the prize)
The Lebanese-born siblings claimed they were exempt from Australian laws due to their spiritual group, Diwan al Dawla was a religious charity. Subsequently the pair refused to abide by court orders to demolish buildings and repair the damage they had already done.
In December, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC), revoked the charity status of the Diwan Al Dawla guild. Diwan Al Dawla was registered by the ACNC on 21 October 2016 with the purpose of ‘advancing religion and social or public welfare.’
The brothers were also accused of trapping a man who had delivered court documents on the property by padlocking the gates while he was inside. During sentencing on Thursday Justice Sheahan described their contempt of court as ‘flagrant’. The pair would also be fined $2,000 for every month after June they spent failing to fix the Colo property.