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Report claims Turkish-Australian youngsters being lured by extremists

Canberra , Sun, 31 Jul 2011 ANI

Canberra, July 31 (ANI): Turkish-Australian youngsters are reportedly being influenced by hardline Muslim groups.


According to the Sydney Morning Herald, a Turkish Australian Tolga Cifci, 20, was one of three men charged over the attack on Christian Martinez, who was allegedly lashed 40 times as a religious punishment under sharia for drinking alcohol.


The revelation has stunned many Turkish Australians.


The general manager of the Auburn-based Affinity Intercultural Foundation, Ahmet Keskin, said that 'people could hardly believe that a Turk might be involved in that [incident] because this is an extremely tolerant community.'


"Turkish Muslims preach love and acceptance, like the overwhelming majority of Muslims," he said.


Auburn is the heartland of Sydney's Turkish community. But in the past 18 months at least three new Muslim groups, including the Auburn Islamic Centre, have set up operations in the suburb, said Kuranda Seyit, the director of the Forum on Australia's Islamic Relations.


Seyit, said one of them, loosely supervised by the controversial Sheikh Feiz Mohammad at the Bukhari House Islamic Book Store, had been trying to recruit emotionally vulnerable young men of Turkish heritage.


Seyit said all the groups practised Salafism, a hardline Islam embracing a literal reading of the Koran and rejects many mainstream scholarly interpretations.


"Strategically they've (Salafi group) decided to move to western Sydney to recruit people from an area populated by tolerant, Turkish Muslims," Seyit said.


The paper quoted a leading figure, as saying that 'the groups' influence would increase as they try to push their ideology in the country'.


"Some anxious parents have begun sending their children to Turkey for long periods to steer them away from Salafi influences, one leading figure said on condition of anonymity," the person added. (ANI)


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