In a press release dated 16 June 2017, the Australian National Imams Council (ANIC) says that a defamation case has been launched by the ANIC President against Newscorp.
ANIC President, Sheikh Shady Alsuleiman has commenced legal action against Nationwide News Pty Limited in the Federal Court of Australia for defamation.
“Nationwide News, in June 2016 published articles carrying several highly defamatory and completely false imputations alleging, among other matters, that the Sheikh preached hate towards others,” Sheikh Shady said.
He said that he was highly disappointed by Nationwide News’ repeated attempts to maliciously defame him in several articles published by a number of Newscorp subsidiaries in various states of Australia.
The statement said that, under the circumstances, the Sheikh has been left with no option but to commence civil proceedings against Nationwide News for damages arising from the publication of the articles.
It is hoped that with such action, the culture of blameless, inaccurate and damaging reporting within Nationwide News and News Corp will begin to change.
Sheikh Shady said that articles described him as one who preaches hatred of homosexuals, women and other minorities.
Sheikh Shady’s lawyer filed the case with the federal court on Wednesday 14 June claiming that he had been “brought into hatred, ridicule, and contempt” by the articles, which “gravely injured his character and reputation” and caused him hurt and embarrassment.
The defamation case has been brought against Nationwide News, publisher of the Daily Telegraph and the Courier Mail.
It mentions three articles that were published after the Iftar dinner the prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, hosted at Kirribilli House to break the Ramadan fast on 16 June 2016 inviting prominent Muslims to the event from all over Australia.
Sheikh Shady was invited to the Kirribilli dinner in his position as President of the Australian National Imams Council.
After being hounded by the Murdoch media, Mr Turnbull said he regretted inviting Sheikh Shady to the Iftar after being told of homophobic sermons delivered by Alsuleiman.
The articles mentioned in the defamation case include an online article that ran on several News Corp websites on 16 June titled “Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull dines with hate preacher”, a column by Peta Credlin in the Daily Telegraph on 19 June 2016 called “Islam threat ignored with gay abandon”; and a column by David Penberthy published in the Courier Mail on the same date, titled “Plateful of hate on the menu”.
The defamation case alleges that the Courier Mail article defamed him by suggesting he “preaches hatred of homosexuals, women, and people who have sex outside marriage”, “advocates and espouses despicable views, namely that women should hang by their breasts in hell if they dare to look at men, that adulterers should be stoned to death, and that homosexuality is a crime for which AIDS is a divine punishment”, is “a barbaric troglodyte,” and “incites violence against women”.
Earlier in April this year, ANIC announced that the Grand Mufti of Australia, Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohammed, had won a defamation case against Nationwide News regarding an article published in the Daily Telegraph on 18 November 2015.