Dr Jamal Rifi (centre)
There was no trouble and plenty of goodwill at the Muslims love Australia barbecue at Lakemba yesterday, even though it coincided with the terrible news that ISIL had beheaded a British Aid worker.
The father of Mohamed Elomar - the man seen on social media grinning and holding up two severed heads - sponsored the event. Mr Elomar urged parents to ring the police and hide their child's passport if they suspect they want to go to Syria to fight.
"I don't see my son, I just see him on the news" Mr Elomar said. "I have no connection with him. The way they take journalists and cut their heads, this is nonsense" he said. "We don't believe in this and we don't support this."
Event organizer Dr Jamal Rifi was right when he said the event was a valve to release the pressure, hatred towards Muslims has escalated with every new beheading.
The doctor said "My message to young people is "Imam YouTube" and "Shaykh YouTube" want your head. What they are doing is barbaric - it has nothing to do with Islam. Please seek the right religious knowledge from well-qualified people."
"My mum wears a headscarf" one young woman said yesterday. "Sometimes I'm a bit concerned about her going out, especially to areas where there are not many Muslims."
I find it strange that Sydney Imams were not the instigators of this goodwill event and wonder why they didn't foresee the need. It took two non-clerics - a doctor and a successful businessman - to give Muslim Australians the opportunity to show their support for their adopted country. It should have been done years ago.