Qld judge condemns ‘prejudiced’ treatment

Robyn Wuth |

A Brisbane man called on Muslims to “cleanse the lands of tyrants and their collaborators”.
A Brisbane man called on Muslims to “cleanse the lands of tyrants and their collaborators”.

A Queensland Supreme Court justice has condemned the federal government and authorities over the “prejudiced” treatment of a Brisbane man facing terrorism-related offences.

Omar Saghir, 40, is charged with preparation for foreign incursions after using social media to offer financial aid for Muslims to fight alongside Syrian terrorist groups.

The charge stems from a $1000 international money transfer to an associate in Syria to “engage in combat against the Syrian government”, the court was told.

The father of three posted messages to all Muslims to “cleanse the lands of tyrants and their collaborators” in Facebook posts made while he was living in Saudi Arabia in 2019. 

The Australian government cancelled Saghir’s passport after the posts.

Saghir was detained in Saudi Arabia and deported before being arrested by Australian Federal Police in July 2021. 

After almost seven months in custody, Saghir launched a fresh bid for bail in the Brisbane Supreme Court on Friday. 

Crown prosecutors argued against his application, claiming an increased risk of “religiously motivated violence” or further radicalisation of some members of the community – a claim castigated by Supreme Court Justice David Jackson. 

“It (the objection) states that there is a risk that (Saghir) may be involved in committing offences of religiously motivated violence against other persons domestically in Australia,” Justice Jackson said, 

“There is not one suggestion that that is something he had ever suggested or said he might do.

“What is this court to infer? That there is a general prejudiced attitude toward people of certain religion or race?” Justice Jackson said. 

The Crown then argued Saghir’s deportation was evidence of a clear contempt for authority.

“The facts were at the time he was lawfully in Saudi Arabia,” Justice Jackson countered.

“This county’s government cancelled his passport which then made it impossible for him to get an extension of his visa in Saudia Arabia. 

“It also banned him from returning to the country.

“This was during a period when COVID-19 restrictions meant he could not get a flight back to Australia and it was only after the Saudis took action because of his unlawful visa status that he returned to this country.

“How does this government do that to its citizens?

“How does that amount in any rational world to making a positive submission that his circumstances over which he had no control indicate his intention or attitude not to comply with the law?” Justice Jackson said. 

Prosecutor Daniel Whitmore cited Saghir’s extremist views on social media calling for “new battlegrounds” to be opened up for attack. 

“The applicant believes in a radical Islamic ideology,” Mr Whitmore said.

“Do you have any interest in history? Do you know anything about the crusades?” Justice Jackson responded.

“Do you see the absurdity at the possible inference of religious prejudice that is carrying with it an unsupported submission of that kind?”

Justice Jackson pointed to the historic origin of the granting of bail being designed to stop a government from imprisoning people in harsh conditions without proper trial or charge for long periods of time.

“Does that sound familiar to how these proceedings are being conducted?” he asked the Crown.

Saghir was granted bail on strict conditions including living with his mother, wearing a tracking device and adhering to a strict curfew and reporting conditions.