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Thursday, June 23, 2005

Pastors vow to go to jail on hate case!

Pastor Danny Nalliah

Christian pastors Danny Nalliah and Daniel Scot yesterday vowed to go to jail rather than paying $68,690 for public apologies for vilifying Muslims. Mr Nalliah called Victoria's religious vilification law "sharia (Islamic) law by stealth", "a foul law" and invalid, while Mr Scot said: "You don't compromise truth for fear of jail."

Judge Michael Higgins, of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, yesterday ordered Christian group Catch the Fire Ministries, Mr Scot and Mr Nalliah to publish apologies for comments made at a Melbourne seminar in March 2002, and in a newsletter and website article.

Judge Higgins said the pastors were otherwise of good character, but their passionate religious beliefs caused them to transgress the law. He ordered them to publish apologies on their website, in their newsletter and in four advertisements in Melbourne newspapers and to promise not to repeat the vilification anywhere in Australia. But this order could be defied as early as Monday, when Mr Scot begins a two-week seminar on Islam in Brisbane.

In December, in the first case under Victoria's controversial Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001, Judge Higgins upheld a complaint from the Islamic Council of Victoria that Muslims were vilified in a seminar, newsletter and website article. These suggested that the Koran promoted killing and looting, that Muslims wanted to take over Australia and terrorists were true Muslims.

Judge Higgins said financial compensation would not be appropriate in yesterday's case, but a public apology would. He ordered Catch the Fire and the pastors to insert the same advertisement - using words set by the tribunal and of specified size - in The Age and Herald Sun on two Saturdays and Mondays before August 31. (This would cost $25,200 in The Age and $43,490 in the Herald Sun.)

Mr Scot, who did not appear yesterday, said his teaching was taken from the Koran and much of his Brisbane seminar would be the same as the 2002 seminar that led to the complaint. "I told the judge earlier, you haven't provided me with a new Koran with the illegal verses removed, so I have to use the same Koran. He doesn't say which parts I quoted are illegal, he is asking a very vague thing," Mr Scot said.

He said he would defy the tribunal, even if it meant jail.

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