Press Releases

Sydney, April 1:  Christians in the Dulwich Hill and Marrickville area are staging a 24-hour prayer vigil over the Easter Weekend to pray for the welfare of the local Islamic community and for their spiritual leader, Sheikh Mansour Leghaei.

Representatives of the Anglican, Catholic and Uniting churches as well as members of the indigenous and Muslim communities are expected to join the vigil at the Holy Trinity Church, Dulwich Hill, from 9 am on Saturday, April 3 until 9 am on Easter Sunday.

Dr Leghaei, a moderate Shia cleric, is facing deportation along with his wife and 20 year-old son.  He is a key member of the local interfaith community, which holds dialogues across religious divides to address common community issues such as youth outreach and marriage counselling.

“I’m not trying to downplay the differences between our faiths,” said Father Dave Smith, parish priest at Holy Trinity Dulwich Hill, “but there are fundamental things that unite us that are greater than our differences, such as our commitment to justice for this good man.”

Despite living in Australia for 16 years, Dr Leghaei has been denied permanent residency due to two Adverse Security Assessments issued by ASIO. He has never been told the reason for the assessments and strenuously denies that he has ever been a threat to national security.

Prominent human rights and civil libertarian groups, including the International Commission of Jurists and the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, have raised concerns over the lack of procedural fairness in ASIO’s treatment of Dr Leghaei .

Dr Leghaei has lodged a last ditch appeal to the Immigration Minister, Senator Chris Evans, to allow him to remain in Australia and continue his important work.

“We believe that everybody should have the right to a fair trial, regardless of their race or religion, and regardless of whether they are citizens or not.  This in itself is an issue that should have everyone at prayer,” Father Dave said.

Media are invited to cover the prayer vigil

When: Saturday, April 3, from 9 am

Where: Holy Trinity Church, Cnr Seaview & Herbert Sts, Dulwich Hill

Father David Smith, 61-2-9569-1255 (or use contact form at

For more details, download the Easter Prayer Vigil poster here

Sydney, March 15:  The Australian children of a moderate Shia Muslim cleric who is facing deportation have appealed for their parents to be allowed to stay in this country.

Sheikh Mansour Leghaei has submitted a final appeal to Immigration Minister Senator Chris Evans to reconsider his deportation, originally scheduled for Friday.

The deportation would split the family, with Dr and Mrs Leghaei and their 20 year-old son, Ali, being forced to return to Iran and their 14 year old daughter, Fatima, and two older sons remaining in Australia.

Fatima, who was born in St George Hospital Kogarah in 1995, has sent a letter to Senator Evans describing  how the anxiety and uncertainty over the threat of deportation have impacted the entire family.

“I am proud of my father and all that he stands for… He has taught me to love who and what I am and where I am,” she wrote to Senator Evans.

“As an Australian I have the right to live in my country with my family. I deserve the love and support of a father.”

Although Dr Leghaei  has lived in Australia for 16 years, his application for residency has been denied due to two adverse security assessments made by ASIO several years ago.

Dr Leghaei strenuously denies that he has ever been a threat to national security.

His bid to remain in Australia is backed by a large group of multi faith supporters, including Anglican, Catholic, indigenous and other community leaders in inner Western Sydney.

Dr Leghaei leads the 1500-member Imam Husain Islamic Centre in Earlwood and is the elected head of the local Interfaith Committee.  A moderate Shia and Australia’s only English speaking Iranian cleric, his community work involves youth outreach, marriage counseling and online university education.

Dr Leghaei and his family are available for interview.  Media can apply through a comment on this post.

9 Mar 2010 1:37PM

Sydney, March 9: Anglican, Catholic, Indigenous and Muslim community leaders have joined in seeking to block the imminent deportation of one of Australia’s most senior Islamic leaders.

Sheikh Mansour Leghaei, his wife and one of his four children are facing deportation to Iran on Friday, March 19, despite having lived in Australia since 1994.

Dr Leghaei plays a leading role in “interfaith” dialogues which work across religious divides to develop social services, such as youth outreach. More than 1,000 letters are being sent to Immigration Minister Senator Chris Evans from prominent community leaders including:-

  • Anglican Minister Father Dave Smith
  • Former head of the Cancer Council Australia, Professor Alan Coates
  • Franciscan nun Sister Aileen Crowe
  • Uniting Church Minister Rev Hannie Hoffman
  • Boxer Nader Hamden
  • Indigenous leader Pastor Ray Minniecon
  • Marrickville Mayor Sam Iskander

“Dr Leghaei has been central to our combined work in the community with the young and the disaffected. We are horrified at the thought of trying to continue this work without him,” said Father Smith, founder of the Christian Save the Sheikh Coalition.

“At a time when it is more important than ever to build bridges between people of different faiths, his removal will provoke enormous bitterness and tension.”

Dr Leghaei, a moderate Shia and Australia’s leading English speaking Iranian cleric, leads the 1500-member Imam Husain Islamic Centre in Earlwood and is the elected head of the local Interfaith Committee.

He has been denied permanent residency in Australia due to two adverse security assessments issued by ASIO several years ago. He has been fighting for 10 years to have these assessments overturned but  an immigration appeals tribunal last month rejected his final application to remain in Australia.

Dr Leghaei strenuously denies that he is a threat to national security.
Community leaders say he has never been told the reason for the assessments and has repeatedly been denied procedural fairness and natural justice.

“I can vouch for the fact that Dr Leghaei is no threat to national security. We call on the Minister to order a new security assessment and enable the sheikh’s important work to continue,” Father Smith said.

Christian Save the Sheikh Coalition spokesperson: Father Dave Smith 61-2-9569-1255

After more than a year of silence, the media have again taken up the case of Sheikh Mansour Legaei, though the motivation seems to be less one of human interest than the opportunity to score political points against Federal MP’s.  The following is a response to the recent article in ‘The Australian‘.

21st July 2009

Fair Go for the Sheikh

Sheikh Mansour Leghaei finds himself unwillingly dragged back into the spotlight with the publication of a recent article in The Australian newspaper

“I’m not sure what all this fuss is about”, said Sheikh Mansour, “as nothing has changed in my case. Hopefully this is an indication that I am soon to receive a fresh and more accurate security assessment”

Sheikh Mansour’s immigration status has been ‘in limbo’ for 12 years now. He received an adverse security assessment in 1997, which he has been questioning ever since. The Sheikh does not know the details of allegations made against him, and in 2007 he lost a High Court battle to find out what crime he had allegedly committed.

The recent article in The Australian did not contribute any new information to Sheikh Mansour’s case. Indeed, it appeared to be more concerned with targeting the Federal MP’s involved in his case than with Mr Leghaei’s welfare.

Much was made in the article of Federal Attorney General, Robert McLelland’s letter of support for the Sheikh. In truth, his was one of 86 such letters of support.  Sheikh Mansour has received broad support from across the community, from both Muslim and non-Muslim people, including representatives of the indigenous community.

The Sheikh received unanimous support from Marrickville Council, who wrote to the Minister for Immigration, pleading his case. Further, local church leaders showed their confidence in him when they unanimously elected him as chairperson of their local inter-faith forum.

The article also insinuated that Father Dave Smith – Parish Priest of Holy Trinity Dulwich Hill and founder of the ‘Christian Save the Sheikh Coalition’ – had acted improperly in trying to get advice from local MP’s regarding how best to proceed with the Sheikh’s case.

“I did try to get advice”, said Father Dave, “but no one would talk to me. I still don’t understand why politicians aren’t allowed to give political advice, unless that is how they defend themselves against unprincipled journalists.”

Father Dave went on to say, “I trust that this latest fuss won’t work against the Sheikh in his application to continue his work in this country. In my opinion our community will be much poorer without Sheikh Mansour. He is a bridge-builder between our different ethnic and religious communities and a true man of peace.”


At the Marrickville Council meeting of September 2007, the Council resolved to write to the Federal Minister of Immigration in support  of Sheikh Mansour Leghaei’s appeal to stay in the country.  The language is formal but the intent is clear.  The leaders of our community do not want the Sheikh deported.

Here’s a copy of the letter:

20 December 2007

Senator the Hon Chris Evans
Minister for Immigration and Citizenship
Parliament House

Dear Minister


At its meeting of 11 December 2007 (Item CD50, 11/07) Council resolved that:

the report be received and noted;

Council write to the Federal Government expressing Council’s support for Sheikh Mansour Leghaei as he has played an active role in our community and other communities over many years. As an important part of our community he makes great contributions and his loss to the community would be a great loss to the area.

Accordingly, Marrickville Council’s support for Sheikh Mansour Leghaei’s appeal to be able to remain in Australia with his family is drawn to your attention. 

And here’s a copy of the  relevant section of the item, referred to in the above letter: 

It should be noted that since the Forum, Sheikh Mansour Leghaei has lost a High Court appeal and is now threatened with imminent deportation. On his website ( Father Dave Smith of the Holy Trinity Church at Dulwich Hill reports:

“This (situation) is astounding, as Mansour’s appeal was not over whether he is a decent citizen or not. It was simply over a point of law – ie. whether he was entitled to a fair trial – and the answer he’s been given is that because he is not an Australian citizen, he is not entitled to a fair trial! This seems simply monstrous to me, and something more appropriate to Nazi Germany than 21st Century Australia! Mansour is Iranian. Because he is Iranian, he is apparently not entitled to a fair trial! Can we imagine the outcry if the situation were reversed – if I went to Iran and was detained on suspicion of some crime, but was then told that because I was Australian I wasn’t entitled to a fair trial

Mansour has asked his friends to do no more than pray for a just outcome. I intend to do that and more. Indeed, I’m looking for support from other Christian clergy, politicians, and high profile sports people of all nationalities, religions and races to show their support for this man, who is a renowned pacifist, and a bridge-builder between our various ethnic and religious communities.”


1. the report be received and noted; and

2. Council consider any appropriate action in respect of Father Dave Smith’s comments.

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