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Helping ANIC secure an important Defamation victory

In this case update, we update our readers on an important defamation case we’ve previously written about. We are pleased advise that this case has been decided in favour of our client – ANIC – with a judgement as to costs to come in the near future.

Helping ANIC secure an important Defamation victory

In this case update, we update our readers on an important defamation case we’ve previously written about. We are pleased advise that this case has been decided in favour of our client – ANIC – with a judgement as to costs to come in the near future.

Context 

We’ve previously covered our work on the defamation case related to the Mufti of Australia on behalf of the Australian National Imams Council. 

Our client was the subject of false and defamatory statements by one Moustafa Rashed claiming to be “the only elected Grand Mufti of Australia”.

The publications were made by Moustafa Rashed, who claimed to be the only elected Grand Mufti of Australia and the Chairman of the ‘World Federation of Muslims for Peace’ – an entity which Mr Rashed claims is the only organisation registered in Australia for Muslim Imams.

While claiming to be a professor of Islamic law from Al-Azhar University, it was reported that Mr Rashed has previously passed a number of ‘fatwas’ (Islamic rulings) which have been unanimously rejected by the wider body of mainstream Islamic scholars, including those from Al-Azhar University.

According to reports, Al-Azhar University has also denied any affiliation with Mr Rashed and vehemently refuted claims he is a professor at the University.

Some of Mr Rashed’s reported past ‘fatwas’ have included declarations that fasting during the month of Ramadan is not obligatory for Muslims and that the consumption of alcohol is not strictly forbidden in Islam.

Defamatory comments against our client

ANIC launched legal action against Mr Rashed asserting that Mr Rashed made a number of false and potentially defamatory imputations about the organisation and its constituent members.  

We asserted on behalf of our client that Mr Rashed’s claims were clearly false and held no factual bases.

ANIC is the peak body for Muslim Imams in Australia, made up of more than 200 member Imams from each state and territory across the country. It is a validly registered charity and non-for-profit organisation that has always acted in accordance with its charitable aims and in line with Australian law.

The outcome

We are pleased to share that our client — the Australian National Imams Council (ANIC) — has won its lawsuit against Moustafa Rashed for defamation.

On Thursday, June 10, 2021, ANIC were able to obtain judgement against Moustafa Rashed. This judgement included defamatory remarks made by him claiming ANIC was a “terrorist sympathiser” organisation.

A press release by ANIC released today highlights further action to come in the matter: 

ANIC will consider and exercise all legal avenues against media organisations that continue to falsely represent Moustafa Rashed as the Mufti of Australia or an Islamic religious authority

We would like to acknowledge ANIC’s gratitude towards Birchgrove Legal for our work on the case and congratulate it on on this result and its broader work on representing Muslims in Australia confidently and assertively in the face of significant misinformation and media speculation in years gone by.

We look forward to continuing to help not-for-profit organisations achieve their mandate for a more harmonious community build on respect for genuine, representative leadership of minority groups and a respect for their important voices.

Birchgrove Legal is a boutique Sydney law firm at the cutting edge of innovative approaches to serving clients across its practice areas and industry sectors. Get in touch with one of our authors to discuss your needs further.

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