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22 May 2006

Ruddock warns on rush to ban books

FEDERAL Attorney-General Philip Ruddock has warned against rushing into strengthening the Government's sedition laws to ban controversial texts in Muslim bookshops.


The Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions last week ruled that a number of books found in Sydney bookstores late last year did not incite violence.

One of the books, Defence of the Muslim Lands, carried an endorsement from al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden on its back cover and promoted "wiring up one's body with explosives".

Islamic books advocating jihad also were found at Melbourne bookstores over the weekend.

Mr Ruddock today said he regarded such publications as "repugnant" and he had spoken to the director of public prosecutions, and had asked his department's advice in relation to the matter.

"I have also asked (the department) to look at the issue in terms of classification, whether or not the publications can be essentially banned rather than those who publish them or hold them or stock them being prosecuted," Mr Ruddock told Macquarie Radio.

He said that while he would act quickly it was important not to rush any change to the law.

"I want to do it in a way that doesn't leave me exposed, in the same way that they have in Victoria, to prosecutions being launched against Christian ministers who are simply proselytising in relation to their religion, because they brought in a law dealing with religious vilification."

Two pastors of the evangelical order, Catch the Fire Ministry, were found by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to have vilified Muslims in a speech, comments on a website and in a newsletter in June last year

This story is from our news.com.au network Source: AAP

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