IN REPLY: Coast group denies anti-Islam stance unAustralian
THE head of a Sunshine Coast group opposed to the opening of a mosque in Maroochydore has hit back at claims its view is "shameful".
Former Coast businesswoman Kim Edwards, who now lives and works in Saudi Arabia, attacked mosque opponents during a brief visit home for Christmas.
She described their views as "unAustralian" and said they were damaging the nation's reputation as a compassionate, welcoming society and a good place to do business.
The comments sparked an intense online debate, with views divided between support for Ms Edwards and condemnation of her.
Ron Hutchins, head of Sunshine Coast Safe Communities, interpreted her comments as a push for the Sunshine Coast to become "more Islamic like Saudi".
"After all they provide her income, fund journalists for positive comment, buy influence in our universities and build Wahabist mosques worldwide," he said, claiming "recent Wikileaks documents" confirmed his claim.
"Burkahs on the beach, calls to prayer and Sharia patrols will not bring tourists to the Sunshine Coast," Mr Hutchins wrote to the Daily.
"In her opinion piece, name-calling is Kim's principle weapon of choice. Time and again we see Australians concerned about dangerous ideologies being called 'ignorant, fearful, racist' and now 'shameful' and 'cowards'.
"With regards to demonising a minority, 1.6 billion followers could hardly be classed as such.
"One person, or millions of people, following in the warlord Mohammed's footsteps is too many for a peaceful world. I suggest those who value facts over opinions learn about the example left by Islam's perfect man for his followers.
"Perhaps Kim could undertake to attend the public executions and dismemberings in Saudi, to experience these first-hand."
Mr Hutchins agreed that non-practising Muslims could be "wonderful, compassionate, friendly people" but their existence did not alter Islam. And it was not always easy to differentiate between the violent and the friendly.
"The people I know who are against mosques are the ones who have studied, understand Islamic ideology and follow local and international news," he said.
"'Ignorant' does not describe them in any way.
"I leave that tag for the name-callers who are intent on shutting down freedom of speech.
"Strangely, freedom is scarce in Kim's Saudi domain. If she criticised the Saudi Government or Islamic ideology at her workplace, she would find herself imprisoned or exported with great haste."