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.”