*********Letters to soliders families 'abhorrent'
October 22, 2009 12:11PM
POSTING anti-war mail to families of Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan is an "evil act of cowardice," NSW Premier Nathan Rees says.
Self-styled Muslim cleric Sheikh Haron has been charged with seven counts of "using a postal service or similar service to menace, harass, or cause offence" for allegedly sending the letters.
A line from one letter to a family allegedly states: "I feel bad that you have lost your son but I don't feel bad that a murderer of innocent civilians has lost his life".
Mr Rees said the act, if proven in court, was loathsome.
"The reports I find abhorrent," he said. "If true, bear in mind the matter is before a court, an evil act of cowardice is probably the mildest term I could use for it."
Sheikh Haron has been granted bail to appear in court on November 10.
'Killer' letters to diggers' families 'like baskets of flowers'
November 10, 2009 - 12:57PM
A self-styled Muslim cleric, who sent letters to the families of Australian diggers who died in Afghanistan calling them "killers" and "murderers", said the letters were like a "basket of flowers" or a message of condolence that all Australians should send.
Man Haron Monis, 45, of Croydon Park, also known as Sheikh Haron, made the comments after appearing at the Downing Centre Local Court. He then chained himself to a railing outside the court with an Australian flag raised high above his head.
Mr Monis is charged with seven counts of using a postal service to menace, harass or cause offence, after he sent letters to grieving parents and wives of seven Australian soldiers.
During a brief appearance, his solicitor, Chris Murphy, told the court his client was a "peace activist" who had no criminal history.
"These letters don't contain threats; he is a peace activist," Mr Murphy said. "I used to be one during Vietnam."
Mr Monis's bail conditions were reduced to allow him to report one day a week, rather than three.
Outside court, he spoke at length in Arabic before telling reporters in English that the Australian Government had put its citizens at risk by fighting a war in Afghanistan.
"Mr John Howard, Mr Kevin Rudd ... are you Australian or American? If you are Australian you should care about Australia's interests rather than America's interests."
Mr Monis said the soldiers who fought and died in Afghanistan had "love" for their country but should only have been fighting if Australia was attacked directly.
He said the letters he sent were condolence letters with a message asking the families to pressure the Government to pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan.
"This pen is my gun and these words are my bullets. Despite my poor English, I fight with these weapons, against oppression, to promote peace," Mr Manon said, pulling out an Australian flag.
"This is my jihad, I love Australia. I want safety for Australia, I don't want to be used our soldiers [sic]. I don't want Australians to be unsafe."
Mr Monis later pulled out a sign that asked Mr Rudd not to "kill Afghan civilians" otherwise "they will kill our civilians".
He will reappear in court in January.
Bellinda Kontominas is a Herald Court Reporter.