Case Concerning Religious Hate Speech Re-opened in Australia

Pastors Danny Naliah and Daniel Scot deny charges
( [email protected] ) Oct 28, 2003 09:59 AM EST

SIDNEY, AUSTRALIA – The controversial court case against Australian Pastors Danny Naliah and Daniel Scot continued at the Civil and Administrative Tribunal of Victoria, Oct. 27. The two, charged for the violation of the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act, may serve up to six months in prison.

The Muslim Council of Victoria accused that the two pastors “vilified Muslims” with “hate speech” during a seminar on jihad, March 9, 2002. The two men denied the charges during an interview in 2002, saying that they merely quoted the Koran during their speeches.

What Scott had done, Nalliah said, was to inform Christians concerned in the aftermath of last September's terrorist attacks in the U.S. about Islam and its teachings, especially the Koran.

"Most Christians don't have a clue about what's happening in the Middle East and what the Muslims want to do in other nations," Nalliah said.

"We can't brand all Muslims as fundamentalists ...maybe only five percent of Muslims are fanatics, but the ultimate authority of all Muslims is the Koran,” Nalliah continued.

However, the court denied the two men the allowance to argue whether or not their statements were true. Their defense can only prove that their statements did not “incite hatred against, serious contempt for, or revulsion or severe ridicule” of Muslims.

Additionally, the court denied a two-week delay to prepare for the two men’s defense.

"Defense attorneys requested a two-week delay in order to prepare to defend against additional charges, but last week the judge in the case denied their request, and the hearing was scheduled to continue today," said a spokesperson for the Voice of the Martyrs.

"This case is a wake-up call for Western Christians," the spokesman continued. "These men are not on trial for telling lies. They are on trial--in what we would call a free nation--for telling the truth."