- Adelaide imam Mohammed Tawhidi says Islamic schools should be shut down
- Shia sheikh has gone into hiding after receiving a chilling threat last weekend
- ‘The Islamic ruling for this infidel is beheading,’ said the Facebook post
- Sleepless imam spoke to Daily Mail Australia about his past for the first time
- Originally from Iraq, he emigrated to Australia when he was 12-years-old
- Police said they cannot supply information about members of the public
Mohammad Tawhidi – an imam like his Iraqi immigrant father – is pictured marching at an Australian rally
He is the Muslim preacher who has called for Islamic schools to be shut down and says he didn’t come to Australia to live in a nation where ‘burqas were running around’.
But Sheikh Mohammad Tawhidi – the outspoken Shia imam from Adelaide – has revealed the chilling threat which this week drove him into hiding.
‘The Islamic ruling for this infidel is beheading,’ said a message posted to his Facebook page last Saturday.
‘I will pay $5000 for anyone who gets me his whereabouts, I’ll organise the rest’.
A sleepless Imam Tawhidi, 34, shared the menacing message from an undisclosed location this week in a bid to highlight the gravity of his situation.
The threat emerged as he spoke for the first time to Daily Mail Australia about about his background as a Middle Eastern migrant – whose family fled the tyrannical regime of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
Alarming screed: This Facebook beheading threat – purportedly posted last Saturday – offered money for Tawhidi’s whereabouts, he said
Tawhidi – cutting a distinctive presence here at this rally – claims he has been subjected to a series of threats
Tawhidi – celebrated by some as ‘the renegade imam’ – has attracted headlines only since starting an organisation called the Islamic Association of South Australia and becoming a regular commentator in the media.
He sparked controversy by criticising hardline group Hizb-ut Tahrir and telling a Rotary Club lunch his father, also an imam, came to Australia ‘because it was a non-Muslim country.’
‘If we knew after 30 years we are going to have burqas running around and mosques being erected on every corner and people proposing sharia law against democracy in this country… we wouldn’t have come,’ he said then.
But the headlines have led to an escalating series of threats that have left him worried about his safety.
‘It’s been extremely serious in the past few weeks,’ Tawhidi said.
‘Before they were just actually wanting to intimidate me and now they’re coming after me.’
So too, have come the attacks on his credibility.
A slick video circulated online accused him of being a fake, and the Australian National Imams Council (ANIC) has issued a statement saying he is not a real sheikh.
In fact, Tawhidi comes from a long line of religious preachers.
In these photos, Tawhidi is seen being ‘crowned’ by the Grand Ayatollah Shirazi – a sign he has become a ‘faith leader’
Tawhidi – seen during his ‘crowning’ ceremony – is the third generation of his line to be an imam
‘I’m a third generation imam. My father came to Australia in 1995,’ he said.
‘We have an Iraqi background, but because my father was sentenced to execution by Saddam Hussein, he fled to Iran.
‘From Iran, he came to Australia.’
His family emigrated to Australia in 1995, settling in Perth when he was 12-years-old.
He attended the Australian Islamic College – although he now calls for all religious Islamic schools to be closed because ‘Australia has never protested any religion like it has Islam.’
Tawhidi and his family moved to Australia when he was 12-years-old, he told Daily Mail Australia
Tawhidi originally wanted to become an architect but did not end up pursuing it.
He said because of ‘corruption in the Islamic community’ he wanted to educate himself properly on Islam.
He worked an IT apprenticeship before setting off for Iran for his religious education in 2007.
He studied in ‘holy cities’, including the Iranian city of Qom, before returning to Australia in 2014.
Tawhidi now makes money as an ‘entrepreneur and property investor’, he said.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, Tawhidi described himself as a conservative who ‘leaned to the right’ wing of politics.
He was particularly animated in his criticism of the Greens, saying their policies were ‘contributing to the change of the culture of this country into a new Baghdad’.
Some of his views include that there should only be one mosque per state (‘because the ones we have (do) nothing to serve this country’).
And he believes the burqa should not be worn in public, ‘in the airports, in the bank, in public areas where identifying the Australian is necessary’.
Tawhidi – on right with small child – flew to Indonesia recently to stand up for a Christian governor over a blasphemy case
Tawhidi, with archbishop Malkhaz Songulashvili, a church leader from Georgia
Anti-Islam critic Ayaan Hirsi Ali lavished Tawhidi with praise in a recent interview with Sky News’ Andrew Bolt
He claimed he had never ‘not once, not once in my entire life’ been subjected to racial abuse.
‘And my first name is Muhammad, I have a beard and I stand out wherever I go,’ he said.
‘I’m giving them valid points to discuss’, Tawhidi said, of his criticisms of Islam
Pressed on criticism he is being used to batter the religion’s critics, Tawhidi told the Daily Mail he was simply channeling peoples’ legitimate concerns.
‘Well, I’m a Muslim. And I’m a practising Muslim. And I love my faith.
‘What I say is the truth about the religion and it’s current developments.
‘And because I love my religion, I’m speaking out to fix the problem within.
‘In no way do I wish to bring pressure upon Muslims or cause any harm or violence to them, but we live in a democracy and we are allowed to criticise.’
He said he wasn’t adding to anti-Islamic sentiment.
‘I’m not adding to it, I’m advising the critics what they should be speaking of.
‘Instead of certain groups coming out into the streets and using foul language in regards to Islam I’m giving them valid points to discuss’.
Despite hiding away at the moment, Tawhidi said he would not stop being outspoken.
‘I have a long way to go before my beard turns white,’ he said.
‘And I will continue to do what I’m doing.’