POLITICS

Malcolm Turnbull Regrets Inviting Homophobic Preacher Sheikh Shady Al-Suleiman To Dinner

Sheikh Shady Al-Suleiman thinks homosexuality is an 'evil act'.

17/06/2016 8:20 AM AEST | Updated July 15, 2016 12:54
Prime Minister's Office/Twitter
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull with Bachar Houli & Waleed Aly at a multi-faith dinner to mark 'Iftar' - the breaking of the fast - during Ramadan.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has condemned the views of an Islamic preacher who once called homosexuality an "evil act," just hours after hosting him for dinner.

Turnbull on Thursday night hosted an iftar, or end of Ramadan feast to mark the breaking of the fast, at Kirriibilli house, becoming the first Australian prime minister to do so.

It was a big, multi-faith event, with guests including Gold Logie winner Waleed Aly, AFL player Bachar Houli as well as community and religious leaders.

But views of one religious leader who attended the feast led the prime minister to denounce him just hours after the dinner.

President of the National Australian Imams Council, Sheikh Shady Al-Suleiman, was recorded in a 2013 video preaching that homosexuality was an "evil act" bringing "evil outcomes" of sexually transmitted diseases.

"Views like this are wrong, unacceptable and I condemn them," Turnbull said on Thursday night.

"Mutual respect is the key to the success of our diverse tolerant multicultural society."

The PM on Friday told Melbourne's 3AW radio he regretted inviting him to the dinner, while his campaign has said he was unaware of the Sheik's views.

Sheik Shady later told The Australian "such statements with a personal commitment to tolerance and encouragement that all Muslims and all people approach all individuals, no matter their faith, race or sexuality, in a considerate and respectful way."

As the Sydney Morning Herald points out, the Prime Minister is trying to strike a balance between being inclusive of the muslim community and tough on national security, as well as heal over what critics saw as divisive rhetoric from former prime minister Tony Abbott.

Mr Turnbull told The Australian there was "no question" from where the majority of the world's terrorist violence emanated.

"In this age of terrorism — overwhelmingly inspired by radical Islamist ideology — our security agencies must have the trust of Islamic communities in order to succeed," Mr Turnbull reportedly said.

"This is why I choose my language carefully."

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