They are the Huntingdale mosque, in Melbourne's southeast; the Fawkner mosque, in the north; and the now notorious 8 Black prayer centre in North Melbourne, a former pool hall closer to the gritty inner-city -- all of which provide the Somali community with a place for preaching and learning.
Not that militant fundamentalism can be found in the routine sermons offered to the congregations there. It mostly happens after dark and late into the night, when the local imam is not present, when the keys to the centre are handed over to small groups of radicals, including those who sympathise with the sharia-supporting terrorist group al-Shabaab, which is waging war on Somalia's US-backed transitional government.
The director of 8 Black, Farah Abdi Hakim, denied that his centre was a hub for Islamic zealots. "This is my centre but it is open to everybody," he said. "I drive a cab, I am a family man, and this is a community centre -- if you came, if anyone came, you can come in."
According to a leading figure in Australia's Somali community, who asked to remain anonymous for fear that he may be harmed for speaking out, these mosques have been a cause for alarm for at least the past five years. "These places, they are teaching hatred," the source said. "We don't like it, it is dangerous, and it is harmful to the Somali community. We have been warning the authorities for at least five years. Our kids are being taught the wrong thing, but nothing has been done."
The claims were confirmed by another prominent Somali elder of a different clan, as well as an Australian official who has worked with the community for several years.
According to the source, the imams are not directly involved. Instead they allow small groups of young radicals to use the mosques as a base for what is known as tableeq -- late-night vigils and traditional Wahabi recitals -- in which ideas about jihad and the ills of the West can prosper.
Equally concerning, moderates in the Somali community feel powerless to close these centres down, or to prevent such teachings taking place. ..more..http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25899435-5006785,00.html