Inside the 'illegal' bush compound of a reclusive Muslim sect that refuses to obey Australia's laws - because they are against Islam

Daily Mail, Australia/August 21, 2018

By Stephen Gibbs

The founder of a reclusive Muslim sect has vowed to never let government officers force their way onto his land because he does not acknowledge Australian law.

Dr Mustapha Kara-Ali believes symbols within the Australian flag and New South Wales coat of arms are an affront to his religion and anyone bearing them is a 'Crusader'.

Dr Kari-Ali, who is in a legal dispute with Hawkesbury City Council over a religious retreat at Colo north of Sydney, also refuses to attend court because he does not recognise its authority.

'It's against our religion,' the imam said of attempts to bring him before the Land and Environment Court. 'It's against our religion to be subject to any other religion.'

'Because of the religious symbolism of the court, that contradicts with my religion. For my religion to be free I can't be dictated to by another religion.'

Dr Kari-Ali is the founder of the religious guild Diwan Al Dawla which bought the Colo property for $670,000 in May last year and began building what it calls the Southern Chariot religious site.

The 12 hectares is home to about 30 Arabian horses which the group intends to use to help troubled Muslim youth, particularly from western Sydney, engage with God.

A shed and two demountable buildings have been erected on the site and a barn is being built. There is also a grove of young trees including olives, figs and walnuts.

An elaborate structure described by council as a 'boat ramp' is in fact a walkway for people to be baptised in the Colo River, according to Dr Kara-Ali. 

'It's not a boat ramp because we have no boats,' he said. 'The purpose of it is religious. The purpose of the horses is religious. The purpose of everything you see here is religious.'

On the other side of the road the group is carving a 1km hippodrome out of a hillside to train horses. 

The council has launched civil action against Dr Kari-Ali and his brother Diaa Kara-Ali alleging the men carried out illegal land clearing and earthworks and built gates, fences and driveways without approval.

The brothers agree they have not sought approval for the work and say they have no intention of doing so because they do not recognise Australian law. 

Dr Kara-Ali considers any government symbol which incorporates a version of a Christian cross - including the Southern Cross and the Cross of St George - to be an affront to Islam.

He has cited a description of St George 'appearing at the head of an army of the Seven Champions of Christendom - a celestial knight who won a great victory over a Moslem host.' 

He believes any authority which uses such a symbol - such as the police and the courts - to be religious, rather than secular. 

'Any religious symbol, if they come to us by force it is a violation,' he said. 'It is a violation of our site.'

He compared anyone who acted in government interests under a religious symbol to the Christian Crusaders who fought against Muslims in the medieval period.   

'Crusaders, absolutely, by virtue of their use of Crusader symbols,' Dr Kara-Ali said.

'My main issue is the interference between the secular and the religious. What we are saying in a nutshell is the country of Australia is entrenched in secular symbolism and religious symbolism that stretches back to the time of the Crusades.

'This means that this government is not secular. It is religious because it carries these symbols.

'And we refuse for pagan symbols such as crosses to be on top of our lives. 

'Remove these religious symbols and we can talk about secular government. But not now. 

'For us, this is religious freedom.' 

Dr Kara-Ali said if government bodies tried to enforce their rules upon him he would resist. 'I tell you what, people like us will say our God is supreme.'

The Kara-Ali brothers were due in court on Monday but did not attend. A hearing went ahead without them or a lawyer acting on their behalf. 

The court heard the brothers had ignored repeated calls for them to stop developments on the site.

Lawyer Mark Cottom for the council said an officer had requested police accompany them on an inspection of the property because they might have required to force entry,' according to the ABC. 

'The police appear to have significant concerns in relation to safety... wishing to have the riot squad and Polair available,' Mr Cottom said. 

Dr Kara-Ali said that was 'just plain ridiculous'. 

'There is no need for the police,' he said. All the police would find is 'a group of people praying and a few horses.'

'We are living our life like we desire. We desire to be separate from the secular. Is this too much to ask? And the secular wants to intimidate us with military might.'

'We are more powerful than their helicopters.' 

Dr Kara-Ali believed his guild members were being treated as 'violent ragheads that know nothing about the world.'

'We believe in our cause. We believe we are pioneers of religious freedom in this country.

'It is our way to disconnect. We want to disconnect. We want to be left alone.'

Dr Kara-Ali declined on Tuesday to say how many members of Diwan Al Dawla there were.

'That's not significant,' he said. We don't have to report that to anybody. It's not a matter of numbers. It's a matter of concepts. We're not short of numbers, let me assure you.'

The court has heard the conflict turned ugly last month when three council officers attended the property to serve papers on the Kara-Ali brothers. A dashcam video tendered to the court showed the pair confront the officers.

'Both men were repeatedly yelling obscenities from the other side of the gate, calling out, "You dogs, I step on your cross", one of the council officers alleged. 

However, Dr Kara-Ali said he and his brother were intimidated by the actions of the 'violent monkeys' and anyone could enter the site as long as they did not do so under a cross.

'This gate is open,' he said. 

Dr Kara-Ali wrote to Hawkesbury City Council in March explaining another reason why he believed government had no authority over the group.

'The Colo Wilderness site is a religious site that is owned by the members of Diwan Al Dawla for the carrying out of religious activities of devotion, self-discipline, ritual baptism, inter-community prayers, contemplation and religious study, he wrote.

'The Land with its Colo River access serves as a reclusive place of worship.

'Members of Diwan al Dawla... live as a religious guild separated from secular lifetsyles to pursue a religious mode of worship to and an ascetic lifestyle under an oath of self-sacrifice and dedication to the purpose of Diwan Al Dawla.'

Dr Kara-Ali contends Hawkesbury City Council has no power to tell Diwan Al Dawla what to do because it is a 'basic religious charity' registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for profits Commission (ACNC).

'Charities who meet the definition of Basic Religious Charity do not have to submit annual financial reports, and they do not have to comply with the ACNC governance standards which include... "Compliance with Australian laws",' Dr Kara-Ali wrote.

According to the imam, that also puts his guild above the law.

'Religious activities, according to our ACNC registered governing rules... must remain independent of entities that represent secular socio-economic structures and modes of living,' he wrote.

'...Diwan Al Dawla, as a Basic Religious Charity, is not required to comply with Australian laws.'

That claim is not supported by the ACNC. 

The Land and Environment Court is due to make a judgement next week.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.

Educational DVDs and Videos