A Message for Sheik Haron – from Greg Sher’s father

October 22, 2009 by Henry Benjamin
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The father of an Australian soldier killed in Afghanistan has advice for the man who is alleged to have sent him hate mail…”If you don’t fit in to or like Australian life, go home.”

Greg SHer

Greg Sher

Commando Greg Sher was killed in action in Afghanistan in January this year. The army’s crack unit sent members of its staff to counsel the Sher family in their Glen Iris home in Melbourne staying with the bereaved parents and brothers 24/7. During this time,  the family received two identical letters from “Sheik Haron”, one registered and the other certified. The letters  contained expressions such as “A Jewish man who kills innocent Muslims civilians is not a pig, he is a thousand times worse.”  and  “Some people don’t eat the meat of a pig, but they are dirtier than pig. Why should we call a pig a hero?”

B: Stephen, Felix and Greg  F: Yvonne, Sylvia and Barry

B: Stephen, Felix and Greg F: Yvonne, Sylvia and Barry

Sher’s father Felix received a call from his son’s regiment yesterday. He had given them copies of the letters and they were phoning to ask his permission to hand them to the Federal Police as evidence. Shortly after the grieving father agreed to their request, a 45-year-old man was arrested in the Sydney suburb of Croydon Park and charged with seven counts of using the postal or similar service to menace, harass or cause offence.

Haron, whose real name J-Wire believes to be Manteghi Borourjerdi, has also sent menacing mail to the families of other Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

Felix Sher told J-Wire: “We have received over 1200 letters, emails and cards plus countless phone calls, many of them from absolute strangers..all offering sympathy and support. The Sheik’s letter is the only one we received attacking the Australian Afghanistan campaign the only one of an anti-Semitic nature. It is time to bring this to an end.”

We have special relationships with other families who have lost loved ones in action and this type of behaviour has appalled us all.  The Sheik should be aware that in a country like Australia, people must integrate in peace and harmony. We can all mix together, but we con;t have to dissolve as one. Everyone can practice their own religion.”

He added: I am so disappointed that anyone can behave like this and it is time to correct the wrong. If he does not like the Australian way of life, then he should return home.”

Felix’s hurt is shared by his wife Yvonne and Greg’s brothers Stephen and Barry…and Greg’s grandmother, Sylvia.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, in a door-stop interview, was questioned on the letters sent to the families of those killed on active duty. J-Wire published the transcript:

JOURNALIST:          Prime Minister, I’d like to ask you the question that’s dominating talkback radio today. We’ve got the case of a bloke who has been charged with sending harassing (inaudible) letters to the families of diggers who’ve died. Should we have a provision whereby someone like that if they’re convicted can have their citizenship withdrawn (inaudible)

PM:     First thing I’d say Laurie is that I’m very mindful that there is a criminal investigation on foot, and I therefore have to be very careful about what I say. So I make that very clear statement upfront. The second is, when you think of the families involved here, and I have met many of them at the funerals of their sons, every decent-minded Australian should be giving those families not just a thought but a prayer and their support, in any practical way when these horrible things are brought back to their memory, and brought back in a way which is lacking all humanity. On the question you ask about the law, as this matter proceeds and subsequent to its conclusion and investigation, and I make no comments in terms of the content of the investigation which is underway, or the individual – it’s important to reflect upon the strength of our laws generally in dealing with cases in the future where some of the assumptions underpinning immigration conditions have not been honoured. I do not have a specific response to that. I want to reflect on this, and look carefully at what emerges from this and related cases.

JOURNALIST:          (inaudible) but you will consider changing the law so that you can-

PM:     No, I’ll be very specific about what I say Laurie, I want to reflect on it. I’m very careful about what I say in terms of the specifics of this case. There is a criminal investigation underway. But my recollection of the provisions of Australian immigration law is that certain undertakings are made when people come to this country.

It may or may not be possible to adjust those laws. I’d like to reflect however, on their application in individual cases and whether any change in the future may be necessary. I don’t wish to create an expectation in that respect. I simply want to examine afresh. You know, when you pick up the front page of the Tele today, I think people, I think their stomachs turn.

Jeremy Jones, Director of Community Affairs for  the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council said:  “Haron is a person in our experience who takes pleasure io=n causing unpleasantness. To the best of our knowledge he works alone and has no support.”

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