The self-styled “Imam” Mohammad Tawhidi has been exposed on ABC Media Watch Episode 15 aired on Monday 22 May 2017. However, he continues to enjoy the status of being the darling of the conservative media who widely air his Islamophobic rants.
Media Watch concluded, “Now we’re not saying Tawhidi has no right to his opinions. But the media really should not be giving him a megaphone. Nor should they be presenting him as a voice of reason and the Imam of Peace, when it’s clear that some of his views are divisive, offensive, abusive and just plain crazy.”
Ironically at the beginning of the fasting month of Ramadan, his Facebook account has now been closed and in frustration he recently vented his anger at Facebook on Twitter:
“Imam Tawhidi @Imamofpeace May 27: My Facebook page http://www.fb.com/imamtawhidi has been taken down without any notice. I am being silenced for criticising radical extremists.”
“Imam Tawhidi @Imamofpeace May 27: I am being silenced by @facebook. They’ve issued a Fatwa against my posts and waged Jihad against my account. I shall not be silenced.
Mohammad Tawhidi of Iraqi origin was born in Iran and raised in Western Australia. He currently resides in South Australia. He has made outlandish claims of his genealogy, his association with Islamic scholars and studies at various seminaries.
During the last few years he has styled himself as a Muslim religious scholar and leader calling himself Imam for Peace while increasingly attacking Muslims and Islam fomenting religious and sectarian divisions in Australia.
He has built a significant following from Islamophobes, white supremacists, Zionists as well as developed a high media profile due to his absurd but headline catching stances on issues affecting Islam and Muslims, both in Australia and overseas.
Tawhidi’s radical claims include that Muslims are secretly working to establish an Australian caliphate; Australian mosques are run by radical Imams producing terrorists; government should listen to Pauline Hanson and ban Muslim immigration; Muslim schools and mosques should be closed; Islamic religious books should be banned and that halal Easter eggs are an “insult” to Christianity.
His absurd views have been enthusiastically aired by Today Tonight, Sky News’ Bolt Report, 2GB’s Ben Fordham, the Daily Mail and Seven News. As recently as Thursday 25 May after the Manchester attack, Sunrise program on TV Channel 7 in their attempts at fearmongering paraded him as a Muslim leader with inside knowledge of the Muslim community.
Earlier this year Tawhidi was exposed as a Fake Sheikh by One Path Network who stated, “Little is known about Mr Tawhidi, who claims to be a “Muslim leader” in South Australia. His centre named the “Islamic Association of South Australia” was only set up last year and there is little to no information available about the centre and its attendees.”
The Australian National Imams Council, ANIC, have categorically said that Tawhidi is “not recognised as an Imam, Sheikh or Muslim leader.”
Tawhidi also claims that he is being threatened by Muslims in Australia for his opinions and has been in hiding from time to time. But the Australian Police have clearly denied any claims of threat to him and that he is in hiding.
Tawhidi had constantly been parroting the views of the white supremacists, racists and Islamophobes and thereby has built up a significant support base via Facebook and Twitter.
He has also tried to foment sectarian divisions within the Muslim community between Sunni’s and Shias with his statements full of hatred of Sunni’s as well as his outlandish “Shia views” that have been rejected by Shia scholars from overseas as well as by Muslim leaders in both Sunni and Shia communities in Australia.
One comment after the Media Watch program is worth noting:
Hassan Moussa: 22 MAY 2017 9:47:05PM “you infer in your report that this sheikh is Shiite & hence his contempt for the Sunni sect & the Holy book. I am of the Shiite sect & never heard of this sheikh. He does not belong anywhere & he can’t be right about the Quran as both Shiite & Sunni follow the same book. Not a word is different. So please don’t present him as sheikh, let alone a Shiite religious leader.”
Alex McKinnon, a freelance writer heavily criticised mainstream media regarding the Tawhidi phenomenon in an article published in the Sydney Morning Herald on Wednesday 24 May:
“One would think the media would be wary of airing the shocking views of someone whose credentials are tough to verify. But for conservative media – and their audiences – the prospect of a self-proclaimed Muslim leader saying headline-friendly anti-Muslim things was too good to resist.
It’s the latest example of a weird, perverse phenomenon that’s come to occupy an outsized place in our national conversation. We have a bad habit of suspending our critical faculties when we’re presented with someone whose age, gender, sexuality, race, religion, political orientation or other cultural marker is seemingly at odds with their opinions, especially when those opinions are as loud and provocative as possible.”
Dr Chloe Patton, a Melbourne-based researcher and writer has documented Tawhidi’s rise to fame and criticised mainstream media’s oxygenation of Tawhidi in an opinion piece on ABC’s Religion and Ethics column headlined “Welcome to the Weird World of Australia’s ‘Fake Sheikh’, Mohammad Tawhidi”:
“If the unusualness of a Muslim cleric aligning himself with Bolt and Hirsi Ali should provoke a close inspection of Tawhidi’s credentials as a religious leader, either none is being undertaken or the spectacle of man dressed up as a cleric delivering epithets more at home at a white nationalist rally is proving simply too good to resist.
The only fact-checking that appears to have been carried out to date concerns Tawhidi’s most recent claim that he has been “escorted into hiding by the police.” A police spokesperson told the Australian that “there have been no incidents relating to the removal of a person from a mosque or similar place.” This did not take any of the wind out of the story’s sails, however, and other media outlets quickly went on to state it as fact.”
It does not look like Fake Sheikh Tawhidi is going to disappear any time soon given the opportunity he drives from terrorist attacks and his romance with the conservative media and Islamophobes in Australia.