Ballarat Islamic leaders condemn national terror threats


BALLARAT'S Islamic community has condemned alleged plans from Muslims in Sydney and Brisbane to commit random acts of atrocity. 

With a Muslim population comprising about 70 families and hundreds of students, local representatives said the "acts of pure evil" should not be associated with an otherwise peaceful religion. 

The local response came after Tony Abbott on Friday said any "determined individual" could carry out an act of terrorism on behalf of the Islamic State, also known as ISIL. 

Past president of the Ballarat Islamic Society, Ibrahim Sultan, said the people arrested on Thursday were "criminals who belong to no religion".

"Our community is outraged by this. I am still in shock," he said. 

"How anyone can think of such plans is beyond me and to be honest I'm not sure what this will mean for the Islamic community from now on."

Dr Ibrahim Sultan talks about his religion.

Dr Sultan said Muslims were already "stared at" and "made to feel awkward", with the arrests on Thursday sure to heighten such views. 

Hundreds of police made arrests in Sydney and Brisbane on Thursday, thwarting alleged plans to capture a random member of the public, kill them and drape the ISIL flag over their body. 

"We are a peaceful people and this type of crime, or criminals, should not be associated with us," Dr Sultan said. 

Ballarat Islamic Society secretary Ihsan Ul Haq Bajwa agreed the alleged "criminals" were creating a distrust which the Islamic community didn't need. 

"These people are evil and misguided," he said. 

"You can't associate them with a whole community."

Mr Ul Haq Bajwa said Ballarat's Muslim population was educated and welcoming, adding "the majority of people in Ballarat are accepting of our faith".

Meanwhile, Ballarat police Acting Superintendent Paul Ross said Thursday's events would have rocked Ballarat's Islamic community. 

"The Islamic community that we deal with are all upstanding members of the community and they're only interested in the safety of the public also," he said. 

He said the Islamic community was just as concerned as anyone else in Ballarat and that relationships should not be strained. 

"There are no specific matters in this local area that people need to be worried about," Acting Superintendent Ross said. 

"Our members are well briefed in relation to the situation and are reminded of their obligations in terms of being alert and being mindful of any suspicious activity." 

Fairfax Media reported on Friday that terror threat levels in Victoria have not changed. 


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