Julia Gillard struggled to explain how Muslim children could be used to incite violence, eight-year-old Ruqaya yesterday fronted a congress of Islamic fundamendalists in Sydney to espouse her love for jihad. Addressing a 600-strong crowd at the Australian chapter of Hizb ut-Tahrir in Bankstown in the city's west, the young girl urged all Muslim youth to fight for the restoration of the Islamic caliphate, a single global government for all Muslims established under strict sharia law.
"My dear brothers and sisters in Islam, as the world gathers against the believers in Syria ... seeking to hijack our sincere and blessed uprisings, children in Sydney would like to send their message of hope and support to the Muslims of (Syria), especially to the children and mothers," she read from notes. "These uprisings have demonstrated that this umma (global Muslim community) is alive and well, her love is for jihad, she is unshackled herself from the fear which she held, and she yearns to once again live under the banner of (the Islamic state).
"Children as young as myself can be seen on the streets joining the uprisings, risking their lives to bring food, water and medicine to their wounded family members, some of them never returning to their mothers ... Nobody is too young," she said.
Ruqaya was the seventh of nine speakers at the "Muslims Rise" conference.
Organisers of the event invited the media to report on her address.
Julia Gillard yesterday expressed her horror at images showing Muslim children carrying inflammatory placards at a protest in Sydney on Saturday, including one that read "Behead all those who insult the Prophet".
Another sign at the protest read "Our dead are in paradise, your dead are in hell".
"I do not want to see in the hands of anyone, particularly children, offensive signs that call for the killing of others," the Prime Minister said.
"This is not the Australian way.
"We believe in freedom of religion and we believe that every religion should be treated with respect."
Hizb ut-Tahrir is an international political movement devoted to restoring a caliphate, the last of which collapsed in the 1920s.
The movement hopes Islamic fighters in Syria will replace the Assad regime with a caliph-led state that will eventually annex other Muslim countries and promote Islam in the West.
The caliphate would also threaten Western nations with jihad if they did not prevent their citizens from defaming the Prophet Mohammed or Islam.
It would be established under the same constitution imposed under Mohammed, which could not be reformed.
Ruqaya said: "We must work hard to achieve victory. It is enough that your generation and your parents' generation were raised in the absence of the khilafa (caliphate). Do not allow my generation to be added to that list."
Khaled Sukkarieh, the chairman of the Islamic Council of NSW, said images of children at the protest shocked many in his community. "Someone put that (banner) in the hand of a child.
"That is a poor, innocent child. It is abhorrent and a very sad way of using children," Mr Sukkarieh said.
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