Sydney, June 15 (IANS) A British Muslim cleric who believed death is a compassionate sentence for gay people, has had his Australian visa cancelled and left the country, officials said on Wednesday.
Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said he decided to revoke Sekaleshfar’s visa, known for his speech given in the US in 2013, saying gays should be killed “out of compassion” in certain cases.
“It will be very difficult, if not impossible, for him to return back to our country,” Dutton told Sky News.
The British-born cleric, who was in Sydney as a guest speaker at the Imam Husain Islamic Centre during the holy month of Ramadan, denied any connection with Omar Mateen, the perpetrator of the Orlando gay nightclub shooting on Sunday.
In an interview aired on Tuesday night on ABC, Sekaleshfar expressed condolences to the families of the victims of the worst shooting massacre in the US and denied that his comments could be seen as justification for the attack.
“No speech, especially when you’re not inciting any hatred and it was given three years ago, would never lead to such a massacre,” the cleric said.
Sekaleshfar said that Mateen “was an Islamic State (IS) sympathiser, a follower of al-Baghdadi. These people are criminals.”
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he had zero tolerance for hate preachers wanting to come to Australia, and opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the man was not welcome in Australia with his abhorrent views.
“I don’t know how on earth that fellow got a visa,” he said.
Mateen, a US citizen of Afghan origin, opened fire at Pulse, the gay nightclub in Orlando killing at least 49 people. It is the worst mass shooting in US history.