Victorian Iftar dinner cancelled over Gaza war tensions

February 29, 2024 by AAP J-Wire
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The Victorian premier has cancelled an upcoming Iftar dinner following growing calls for a boycott over Australia’s response to the Gaza war and tensions over controversial comments by an Islamic leader.

Jacinta Allan

Jacinta Allan announced on Thursday the dinner, held during the holy celebration of Ramadan, would not go ahead for the first time since 2015.

“Our role here in Victoria is to support the community, not add to distress and grief, and it’s in that context the dinner will not be proceeding this year,” Ms Allan told reporters in Ballarat.

Ms Allan said she intends to mark Ramadan events privately with families.

It came after Islamic groups in both Victoria and NSW announced they would skip dinners in their respective states because of the suffering and oppression of Palestinians and the planned assault on Rafah by Israel coinciding with Ramadan.

Islamic Council of Victoria president Adel Salman told ABC Radio on Wednesday the community was in “no mood” for a celebratory event and it would be inappropriate to host the dinner.

“There’s no question there is a level of frustration with the federal government and their position on the conflict,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Islamic Council has issued a statement on Mr Salman’s remarks during that interview about the October 7 attacks by Hamas on Israeli citizens.

“We denounce any violence and killing of civilians but what we don’t denounce very clearly is legitimate acts of resistance,” he said on Wednesday morning.

“For the Palestinians to rise up on October 7th and say we’re no longer going to tolerate this siege, this occupation, that’s legitimate.

If they’ve done things that is against international law then they should be held to account for that.”

Hamas, designated a terrorist organisation by Australia, launched an attack in Israel on October 7 in which 1200 people were killed and hundreds taken hostage, according to Tel Aviv.

Almost 30,000 Palestinians have been killed since Israel’s subsequent invasion of Gaza, according to the local health ministry.

The Islamic Council of Victoria went on to explain Mr Salman’s comments in a statement released late on Wednesday.

“The comments by President Salman on RN Breakfast this morning (Wednesday) about legitimate resistance are in reference to the right of Palestinians, like all peoples, to resist their occupation, and must not be read as legitimating the killing of innocent civilians,” the statement read.

An open letter calling on Victoria’s Muslim community to boycott the dinner had more than 100 endorsements.

State Liberal MP David Southwick told J-Wire: “October 7 was an act of terrorism by genocidal terrorists. Anyone suggesting otherwise fuels hate and divides our community.

 Taxpayer funds should never support organisations justifying murder, rape, kidnapping, and torture.

The Islamic Council of Victoria plays an important role in our multicultural Victorian community, but in recent times, it has failed under its current leadership.

First, blaming Jews for something they did not do after the Burgertory fire, which led to violent riots in Caulfield. Now, condoning terrorism.

This hate should not be tolerated, and the Allan Government needs to stand up, show leadership, and make sure the ICV promotes peace in our diverse Victorian community.”

AAP with J-Wire

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