A controversial Imam has spoken out urging Muslims not to take a potential coronavirus vaccine, claiming it is ‘haram’ – meaning forbidden.
Sufyaan Khalifa posted a video this week in which he urged followers of Islam to resist ‘tyranny and fascism’ – and took a swipe at the Victorian premier along with raising questions over the vaccine.
Other religious leaders have also recently voiced ethical concerns over the Oxford University vaccine candidate, which is made using foetal cells that were sourced from an aborted baby in the 1970s and replicated in a laboratory.
The federal government has signed a letter of intent with vaccine manufacturer AstraZeneca to provide the Oxford vaccine to Australians should clinical trials proves successful.
‘Shame on some Muslim bodies justifying the use of the vaccine. Shame on any imam who did sign this fatwah,’ Mr Khalifa said in the video.
‘The catholics have stood up against this clearly because they know it’s haram, it’s unlawful. But you stand with the government instead,’ the Perth-based imam said.
‘Shame on those who are standing with the government against the religion.’
The Catholic Archibishop of Sydney, Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, and the city’s Greek Orthodox Archbishop have written to the Prime Minister asking him to reconsider the the deal to secure 25 million doses.
The Oxford University candidate uses a technique in which the vaccine is grown in foetal cells, which are then removed before the medicine is packaged.
The cell line was sourced from a legal abortion in 1973 in the Netherlands and then altered so the cells can divide continuously in a laboratory, so there is no need to source new cells.
The religious leaders claimed the technique is immoral and urged to PM to provide an alternative option.
But other religious leaders have said the risk to human life by COVID-19 signalled their congregations could use the vaccine with a clear conscience.
‘At an Islamic principle level, the highest principle is the preservation of its life and its wellbeing,’ spokesperson for the Australian National Imams Council, Bilal Rauf, has said.
Great Synagogue Chief Minister and Senior Rabbi Ben Elton agreed on Tuesday saying: ‘We are very much in favour of anything that can save human life, so we’re looking forward very much to the development of a safe and reliable vaccine.’
A vaccine being developed by the University of Queensland does not use foetal cell lines and has received Australian government funding.
The technique is used in other common vaccines already in widely in use.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he was aware of and respected the concerns though he and his family would take the vaccine and urged other Australians also get the jab.
Mr Khalifa also took aim at the Stage 4 lockdowns being imposed across Melbourne along with Stage 3 lockdowns in the rest of Victoria urging Muslims to question the government.
‘(Muslims and) the wider community must stand against this tyranny, against this fascism which is happening in our country… Especially what that dictator Dan Andrews is doing to our fellow Australians in Victoria,’ he said.
‘Wake up because you are in danger. Wake up because Australia is in danger and time is running out.
‘We Muslims have to play a major part in saving our country. This is your role as the followers of the prophets. To stand up against any tyranny which is causing harm to humanity.
‘This is our job as Muslims to stand up and speak out.’
Mr Khalifa was angered after police issued $15,000 in fines and arrested four men during a wild afternoon confrontation with police in Dandenong on Wednesday.
At least 100 residents in Melbourne’s south east clashed with police in a demonstration against the city’s Stage 4 stay-at-home orders.
Anti-lockdown walkers were doused with pepper spray and struggled with cops as community frustration with Melbourne’s draconian Stage 4 restrictions reached boiling point.
Tensions in the community have been flaring for days after a large group of residents decided to start walking at the same time and place.
Under Stage Four restrictions Melbourne residents can only leave their homes for four reasons, to buy essential items like groceries, for care or to give care, exercise and work.
There is also a nightly curfew from 8pm until 5am.
‘In Victoria, they were walking, exercising and singing the Australian anthem, proud to be Australians but the police came to provoke them and put them down and arrest them,’ Mr Khalifa said.
‘If we Muslims don’t go hand to hand with the Christians, the Jews, the Hindus, anyone even if they don’t believe in god, to save our community or save our country, we will end up in a dictatorship.
‘Most people run from our homeland in Lebanon, Egypt and wherever we come from to escape dictatorship to the land of honey and milk (Australia). But the land of honey and milk is suffering today.’