Extraordinary life of Muslim undertaker who buried boy, 8
Funeral director responsible for the bodies of a Greeenacre victim speaks out Praises the boy's..
- Funeral director responsible for the bodies of a Greeenacre victim speaks out
- Praises the boy's father for his touching speech of forgiveness for his son's death
- Speaks of show of strength and kindness shown by the Greenacre community
- Laments that Muslim community is misunderstood thanks to widespread racism
- The 'vast majority' of the Australian Islamic community is 'passionately patriotic'
By Yael Brender For Daily Mail Australia
Published: 01:08 EST, 12 November 2017 | Updated: 01:13 EST, 12 November 2017
Mr Ahmad Hraichie has had a remarkable life
A Muslim undertaker who filmed a touching message of forgiveness with the father of a child killed when a car ploughed into his school has captivated Australia.
Father-of-four Ahmad Hraichie, who describes himself as a ‘good Muslim Aussie’, has revealed his son is a terrorist currently serving time in Goulburn’s supermax prison, went to school with a bikie boss and has buried some of Sydney’s most notorious crime figures.
On Thursday, he translated and shared a touching message from Ared Darwiche ahead of his son Jihad’s burial, and his extraordinary past was revealed in an interview with the Daily Telegraph.
Mr Hraichie has worked hard to carve a life for himself in Greenacre and become an integral part of the community.
Mr Hraichie said the 'vast majority' of the Aussie Islamic community is 'passionately patriotic
He has been fully-certified Lebanese Muslim Association funeral director for twenty years, but he started working at a funeral parlour as a cleaner aged just 18.
The unusual job has seen him organise funerals for a huge range of community members, from small children to slain crime bosses.
Mr Hraichie said the people at gangland funerals often showed up to 'cover their own backside'.
'Everyone there is fake, everyone is there to show their face and say: 'Look I came',' he said. 'But it's a fake world and they know it. Most people in that circumstance, there is no honour in it.'
He was kept particularly busy during the Darwiche-Razzak War that peaked in the early 2000s, when the murder of underworld figures from three leading crime families was commonplace.
Mr Hraichie grew up in Penshurst alongside many men who eventually turned to a life of crime, including ex-Comanchero boss Mick Hawi.
But after graduating Hurstville Boys High School, he was determined to make a different future for himself – and worked hard as a excavator from dawn to dusk to make it happen.
'I would drive back at 8.30pm on King Georges Road and I would see a bunch of boys I know going out to a nightclub, like DCMs, and they would look at me and go 'ay Hraichie!',' he said.
He recalls looking out of his truck exhausted, and then choosing to go home to his wife, a hot shower and a good sleep rather than going out.
Former Comanchero boss Mahmoud 'Mick Hawi' pleaded guilty to manslaughter in late 2009
During the Cronulla Riots in December 2005, young men 'forgot to respect the law of the land'
After the Cronulla Riots in 2005, Mr Hraichie worked as an ethnic community liaison officer with NSW Police to help manage the fallout.
He laments that during that time, many young men 'forgot to respect the law of the land', and revealed that his own people called him a 'snitch' and a 'dog' for working with the government.
But that was nothing compared to the pain and betrayal that Mr Hraichie suffered within his own family, with his 20-year-old son Bourhan currently serving a prison sentence inside Goulburn Supermax, Australia's highest-security prison.
While serving his sentence, Bourhan was further charged with carving the Islamic State slogan 'e4e' (an eye for an eye) into a fellow inmate's forehead last year, as well as threatening the prison's boss.
'I pray for him every single day of my life, that he repents and regrets what he did and turns back to a normal person,' Mr Hraichie said.
Mr Hraichie was called a 'snitch' and a 'dog' for working as an ethnic community liaison officer
'You can wear what you want and that is the beauty of being in a country like Australia,' he said
However, he has nothing but praise for Australia's approach to religious freedom.
'None of the laws here say anything against your religion; you can sit in a mosque and pray all day,' he said.
'You can sit in a temple and worship all day. You can wear what you want and that is the beauty of being in a country like Australia.'
Despite the fact that he spends so much of his time around death, his Muslim faith has never been shaken.
Rather, it has encouraged him to find a purpose in life, and carry out good deeds with 'sincerity and heart' – he believes that it is not about quantity but quality.
'People like Pauline Hanson need to be stopped,' said Muslim funeral director Ahmad Hraichie
Mr Hraichie also revealed his fear that anti-Islamic messages from politicians are driving cultural misunderstanding and promoting racism against the Muslim community.
'We all love living in Australia,' he said. He believes that the 'vast majority' of the Australian Islamic community is 'passionately patriotic' but misunderstood thanks to Islamophobia spread by public figures.
'People like Pauline Hanson need to be stopped,' he said.
'[Everyone has] the right to practise whatever they want to practise, we have the right to practise what we practise…It's what you teach [your kids] at home that counts at the end of the day.'
The waiting hearse driven by Mr Hraichie containing the late little boy's coffin is pictured here
Mr Hraichie drove the hearse with 8-year-old Jihad Darwiche's body from Lakemba Mosque to Rookwood on Thursday – one of two boys that were killed when a car smashed into their Greenacre school on Tuesday.
During the trip, he videoed a conversation with Jihad's grieving father, in which the men agreed that forgiveness was 'the way a proper Muslim acts in a time of calamity and tribulation'.
The exchange has gone viral with its message of compassion and understanding – with Mr Hraichie praising Mr Darwiche as 'a true Muslim'.
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Why Australia decided to quit its vaping habit
He’s talking about students in his class, teenagers, who can’t stop vaping.
He sees the effect of the candy-flavoured, nicotine-packed e-cigarettes on young minds every day, with children even vaping in class.
“The ones who are deepest into it will just get up out of their seat, or they’ll be fidgeting or nervous. The worst offenders will just walk out because they’re literally in withdrawal.”
Those who are most addicted need nicotine patches or rehabilitation, he says, talking about 13 and 14-year-olds.
is enough and introduced a range of new restrictions. Despite vapes already being illegal for many, under new legislation they will become available by prescription only.
The number of vaping teenagers in Australia has soared in recent years and authorities say it is the “number one behavioural issue” in schools across the country.
And they blame disposable vapes – which some experts say could be more addictive than heroin and cocaine – but for now are available in Australia in every convenience store, next to the chocolate bars at the counter.
For concerned teachers like Chris, their hands have been tied.
“If we suspect they have a vape, all we can really do is tell them to go to the principal’s office.
“At my old school, my head teacher told me he wanted to install vape detector alarms in the toilet, but apparently we weren’t allowed to because that would be an invasion of privacy.”
E-cigarettes have been sold as a safer alternative to tobacco, as they do not produce tar – the primary cause of lung cancer.
Some countries continue to promote them with public health initiatives to help cigarette smokers switch to a less deadly habit.
Last month, the UK government announced plans to hand out free vaping starter kits to one million smokers in England to get smoking rates below 5% by 2030.
But Australia’s government says that evidence that e-cigarettes help smokers quit is insufficient for now. Instead, research shows it may push young vapers into taking up smoking later in life.
Vapes, or e-cigarettes, are lithium battery-powered devices that have cartridges filled with liquids containing nicotine, artificial flavourings, and other chemicals.
The liquid is heated and turned into a vapour and inhaled into the user’s lungs.
Vaping took off from the mid-2000s and there were some 81 million vapers worldwide in 2021, according to the Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction group.
Fuelling the rise is the mushrooming popularity of flavoured vapes designed to appeal to the young.
These products can contain far higher volumes of nicotine than regular cigarettes, while some devices sold as ‘nicotine-free’ can actually hold large amounts.
The chemical cocktail also contains formaldehyde, and acetaldehyde – which have been linked to lung disease, heart disease, and cancer.
There’s also a suggestion of an increased risk of stroke, respiratory infection, and impaired lung function.
Experts warn not enough is known about the long-term health effects. But some alarming data has already been drawn out.
In 2020, US health authorities identified more than 2,800 cases of e-cigarette or vaping-related lung injury. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found 68 deaths attributed to that injury.
In Australia, a major study by leading charity The Cancer Council found more than half of all children who had ever vaped had used an e-cigarette they knew contained nicotine and thought that vaping was a socially acceptable behaviour.
School-age children were being supplied with e-cigarettes through friends or “dealers” inside and outside school, or from convenience stores and tobacconists, the report said.
Teens also reported purchasing vapes through social media, websites and at pop-up vape stores, the Generation Vape project found.
“Whichever way teenagers obtain e-cigarettes, they are all illegal, yet it’s happening under the noses of federal and state authorities”, report author and Cancer Council chair Anita Dessaix said.
“All Australian governments say they’re committed to ensuring e-cigarettes are only accessed by smokers with a prescription trying to quit – yet a crisis in youth e-cigarette use is unfolding in plain view.”
In addition to the government’s move to ban the import of all non-pharmaceutical vaping products – meaning they can now only be bought with a prescription – all single-use disposable vapes will be made illegal.
The volume and concentration of nicotine in e-cigarettes will also be restricted, and both flavours and packaging must be plain and carrying warning labels.
But these new measures are not actually all that drastic, says public health physician Professor Emily Banks from the Australian National University.
“Australia is not an outlier. It is unique to have a prescription-only model, but other places actually ban them completely, and that includes almost all of Latin America, India, Thailand and Japan.”
‘We have been duped’
Health Minister Mark Butler said the new vaping regulations will close the “biggest loophole in Australian healthcare history”.
“Just like they did with smoking… ‘Big Tobacco’ has taken another addictive product, wrapped it in shiny packaging and added sweet flavours to create a new generation of nicotine addicts.”
“We have been duped”, he said.
Medical experts agree. Prof Banks argues that the promotion of e-cigarettes as a “healthier” alternative was a classic “sleight-of-hand” from the tobacco industry.
As such vaping has become “normalised” in Australia, and in the UK too.
“There’s over 17,000 flavours, and the majority of use is not for smoking cessation”, she tells the BBC.
“They’re being heavily marketed towards children and adolescents. People who are smoking and using e-cigarettes – that’s the most common pattern of use, dual use.”
Professor Banks says authorities need to “de-normalise” vaping among teenagers and make vapes much harder to get hold of.
“Kids are interpreting the fact that they can very easily get hold of [vapes] as evidence [they’re safe], and they’re actually saying, ‘well, if they were that unsafe, I wouldn’t be able to buy one at the coffee shop’.
But could stricter controls make it harder for people who do turn to vapes hoping to quit or cut down on tobacco?
“It is important to bear in mind that for some people, e-cigarettes have really helped. But we shouldn’t say ‘this is great for smokers to quit’, says Prof Banks.
“We know from
Australia, from the US, from Europe, that two-thirds to three-quarters of people who quit smoking successfully, do so unaided.”
“You’re trying to bring these [vapes] in saying they’re a great way to quit smoking, but actually we’ve got bubble gum flavoured vapes being used by 13-year-olds in the school toilets. That is not what the community signed up for.”
Read from: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-65522841
Australia: Scott Morrison saga casts scrutiny on Queen’s representative
In the past fortnight, Australia has been gripped by revelations that former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison secretly appointed himself to several additional ministries.
The move has been labelled a “power grab” by his successor as prime minister, and Mr Morrison has been scolded by many – even his own colleagues.
But the scandal has also dragged Australia’s governor-general into the fray – sparking one of the biggest controversies involving the Queen’s representative in Australia in 50 years.
So does Governor-General David Hurley have questions to answer, or is he just collateral damage?
Governors-general have fulfilled the practical duties as Australia’s head of state since the country’s 1901 federation.
Candidates for the role were initially chosen by the monarch but are now recommended by the Australian government.
The job is largely ceremonial – a governor-general in almost every circumstance must act on the advice of the government of the day. But conventions allow them the right to “encourage” and “warn” politicians.
Key duties include signing bills into law, issuing writs for elections, and swearing in ministers.
Mr Hurley has run into trouble on the latter. At Mr Morrison’s request, he swore the prime minister in as joint minister for health in March 2020, in case the existing minister became incapacitated by Covid.
Over the next 14 months, he also signed off Mr Morrison as an additional minister in the finance, treasury, home affairs and resources portfolios.
Mr Morrison already had ministerial powers, so Mr Hurley was basically just giving him authority over extra departments.
It’s a request the governor-general “would not have any kind of power to override or reject”, constitutional law professor Anne Twomey tells the BBC.
“This wasn’t even a meeting between the prime minister and the governor-general, it was just paperwork.”
But Mr Morrison’s appointments were not publicly announced, disclosed to the parliament, or even communicated to most of the ministers he was job-sharing with.
Australia’s solicitor-general found Mr Morrison’s actions were not illegal but had “fundamentally undermined” responsible government.
But the governor-general had done the right thing, the solicitor-general said in his advice this week.
It would have been “a clear breach” for him to refuse the prime minister, regardless of whether he knew the appointments would be kept secret, Stephen Donaghue said.
Critics push for investigation
Ultimately, Mr Hurley had to sign off on Mr Morrison’s requests, but critics say he could have counselled him against it and he could have publicised it himself.
But representatives for the governor-general say these types of appointments – giving ministers the right to administer other departments – are not unusual.
And it falls to the government of the day to decide if they should be announced to the public. They often opt not to.
Mr Hurley himself announcing the appointments would be unprecedented. He had “no reason to believe that appointments would not be communicated”, his spokesperson said.
Emeritus professor Jenny Hocking finds the suggestion Mr Hurley didn’t know the ministries had been kept secret “ridiculous”.
“The last of these bizarre, duplicated ministry appointments… were made more than a year after the first, so clearly by then the governor-general did know that they weren’t being made public,” she says.
“I don’t agree for a moment that the governor-general has a lot of things on his plate and might not have noticed.”
The historian says it’s one of the biggest controversies surrounding a governor-general since John Kerr caused a constitutional crisis by sacking Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in 1975.
Prof Hocking famously fought for transparency around that matter – waging a lengthy and costly legal battle that culminated in the release of Mr Kerr’s correspondence with the Queen.
And she says the same transparency is needed here.
The Australian public need to know whether Mr Hurley counselled the prime minister against the moves, and why he didn’t disclose them
The government has already announced an inquiry into Mr Morrison’s actions, but she wants it to look at the governor-general and his office too.
“If the inquiry is to find out what happened in order to fix what happened, it would be extremely problematic to leave out a key part of that equation.”
Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull – Mr Morrison’s predecessor – has also voiced support for an inquiry.
“Something has gone seriously wrong at Government House,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
“It is the passive compliance along the chain… that did undermine our constitution and our democracy… that troubles me the most. This is how tyranny gets under way.”
PM defends governor-general
Prof Twomey says the criticism of Mr Hurley is unfair – there’s was no “conspiracy” on his part to keep things secret.
“I don’t think it’s reasonable for anyone to expect that he could have guessed that the prime minister was keeping things secret from his own ministers, for example.
“Nobody really thought that was a possibility until about two weeks ago.”
Even if he had taken the unprecedented step to publicise the appointments or to reject Mr Morrison’s request, he’d have been criticised, she says.
“There’d be even more people saying ‘how outrageous!'” she says. “The role of governor-general is awkward because people are going to attack you either way.”
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has also defended Mr Hurley, saying he was just doing his job.
“I have no intention of undertaking any criticism of [him].”
A role fit for purpose?
Prof Hocking says it’s a timely moment to look at the role of the governor-general more broadly.
She points out it’s possible the Queen may have been informed about Mr Morrison’s extra ministries when Australia’s parliament and people were not.
“It does raise questions about whether this is fit for purpose, as we have for decades been a fully independent nation, but we still have… ‘the relics of colonialism’ alive and well.”
Momentum for a fresh referendum on an Australian republic has been growing and advocates have seized on the controversy.
“The idea that the Queen and her representative can be relied upon to uphold our system of government has been debunked once and for all,” the Australian Republic Movement’s Sandy Biar says.
“It’s time we had an Australian head of state, chosen by Australians and accountable to them to safeguard and uphold Australia’s constitution.”
But Prof Twomey says republicans are “clutching at straws” – under their proposals, the head of state would also have been bound to follow the prime minister’s advice.
“It wouldn’t result in any changes that would have made one iota of difference.”
Read from: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-62683210
Australia election: PM Morrison’s security team in car crash in Tasmania
A car carrying the Australian prime minister’s security team has crashed in Tasmania during an election campaign visit.
Four police officers were taken to hospital with “non-life threatening injuries” after the car and another vehicle collided, authorities said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison was not in the car, but the accident prompted him to cancel the rest of his campaign events on Thursday.
The other driver involved was not hurt.
Tasmania Police said initial investigations suggested the second car had “collided with the rear of the police vehicle, while attempting to merge”. It caused the unmarked security vehicle to roll off the road.
The two Tasmania Police officers and two Australian Federal Police officers were conscious when taken to hospital for medical assessment, the prime minister’s office said.
“Family members of the officers have been contacted and are being kept informed of their condition,” a statement said.
“The PM is always extremely grateful for the protection provided by his security team and extends his best wishes for their recovery and to their families.”
Australians go to the polls on 21 May. Mr Morrison – prime minister since 2018 – is hoping to win his conservative coalition’s fourth term in office.
Polls suggest the opposition Labor Party, led by Anthony Albanese, is favoured to win. However, Mr Morrison defied similar polling to claim victory at the last election in 2019.
Mr Morrison’s Liberal-National coalition holds 76 seats in the House of Representatives – the minimum needed to retain power.
Political observers say the cost of living, climate change, trust in political leaders, and national security will be among key issues in the campaign.
In recent weeks, the prime minister has faced accusations of being a bully and once sabotaging a rival’s career by suggesting the man’s Lebanese heritage made him less electable. Mr Morrison has denied the allegations.
Mr Albanese stumbled into his own controversy this week when he failed to recall the nation’s unemployment or interest rates.
Read from: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-61103987
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