Al-Taqwa College asked to explain

April 2, 2015 by J-Wire
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Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne has issued a please explain to the principle of Al-Taqwa College, in Melbourne’s outer west.

Princpal Omar Hallak has been reported in recent days of making claims that Islamic State (also known as ISIL/ISIS or daesh) is a conspiracy of Israel and the West.

Melbourne’s The Age has reported that a former teacher of the school has accused Mr Hallak of making numerous anti-Semitic comments.

When Mr Hallak’s comments came to light, State Education Minister James Merlino issued a sharp rebuke, and has called in Mr Hallack to meet with State Education officials to explain his comments. This meeting has yet to take place.

Last month, federal MP Michael Danby spoke about Mr Hallak’s comments in Parliament. He praised Mr Merlino’s comments and challenged Mr Pyne to take up the issue. Mr Danby said in that speech, “Any organisation which is publicly funded, either by the Victorian or the federal government, needs to take responsibility for these things.” Mr Danby also praised the Victorian Muslim community for condemning Mr Hallak’s comments.

The Age reported that a former teacher at the school said principal Omar Hallak told students that Israel did not exist and Jews were horrible people.

Christopher Pyne told The Age that  ‘‘the comments of the Al-Taqwa College principal are wrong and damaging”.

The teacher is reported to have said that Mr Hallak came into his classroom and was enraged to learn that a student had selected Israel as a topic saying that Israel did not exist and according the teacher Aji Somers that Jews were horrible people.

Danby’s full address to Parliament:


Michael Danby

Michael Danby

I commend the Victorian Minister for Education, James Merlino, who has criticised comments by a school principal in Melbourne that Daesh, the Islamic State, is a Western plot. Minister Merlino described these comments as ‘incredibly reckless and dangerous’. They were made to 2,000 students at a large Victorian school, the Al-Taqwa College, telling students not to join IS because it is a scheme devised by some Western countries.

I have a message for the principal of that school. The reasons people should not join IS are its barbaric behaviour and ideology—having young children, including Australians, holding up severed heads; the murder of large numbers of Christian and minority people, the Yazidis, across northern Iraq; and the destruction of ancient civilisations and culture. These are the reasons, Principal Hallak, that no Australians should be involved in these kinds of schemes or activities of Daesh. You ought to be educating your students in a way that fits in with the broad mainstream of Australian public life. As James Merlino said:

“We have a multicultural and harmonious society. The best way to tackle radicalisation is through the education of our young people. The worst way is to put reckless and dangerous ideas into their heads.”

I have written to the Victorian minister congratulating him on his stance, and I have written to the federal minister saying that they need to take this up with Victorian principals. Any organisation which is publicly funded, either by the Victorian or the federal government, needs to take responsibility for these things.

This is not just a matter of aesthetics. This is a matter of danger to Australian society. We have a number of young Victorians who have gone off and fought with this barbaric group in the Middle East. They pose a threat and a danger to Australian citizens if they return to this country. For the principal of their school to be telling them that it is a Western plot and that is the reason they, as young Australians, should not be involved with Daesh is an absolute disgrace.

I want to commend the Islamic community. The Islamic Council of Victoria, for instance, said they do not support Mr Hallak’s views and that he might ‘muddy’ the message that Islam is peaceful, positive and non-violent. Keysar Trad, a person I do not normally agree with or cite, also said that this was a mistaken strategy for them to be involved in and that the Islamic State has ‘done unprecedented damage to the image of Islam’.

The principals of Victorian schools are regularly asked about the challenge of radicalisation of students and parents at their schools. One Melbourne principal told The Age that two children in his government primary school had parents fighting for the Islamic State in Syria. This is a very serious situation. I am pleased that the Victorian state minister has addressed this so frontally, and I am sure that Minister Pyne will do the same thing.


2 Responses to “Al-Taqwa College asked to explain”
  1. Eleonora Mostert says:

    Simple question…Has Mr. Hallak been removed from teaching, speaking at these schools? If not, I personally take it that they are not trying to stop people joining but in fact are encouraging them to join as it is just an empty statement made to mislead the general public. If Islam is “Peaceful”, why is the world in such turmoil as 99.9% of it’s problem is Muslim related. I say let them go but never let them back. The ludicrous statement of one Muslim parent “that it is the Australian Governments problem to stop their kids from joining these terrorist groups” is just as insane as their so called “peaceful religion”. I personally am offended when I continually hear the media refer to these TERRORISTS as “Militants” suggesting they are a legitimate military of a legitimate country and it has nothing to do with religion but an “Ideology”. “Politically Correctness” is something concocted to add to the confusion as what is a simple question of morality, what is right and what is wrong. Keep it simple and keep it truthful.

  2. Kevin Charles Herbert says:

    Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Tikan Olum’s Richard Silverstein – all prominent Jewish public intellectuals – agree with the view that ISIS has been purposefully allowed to develop by the West to suit the latter’s Middle East policy interests, along with many noted US commentators such as Ron Paul.

    I share that view based on the compelling evidence at hand.

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