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Australian PM should convert to Islam: Bashir

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Location map of Indonesia's Central Java province

Abu Bakar Bashir, the alleged spiritual leader of the Jemaah Islamiyah militant islamic organisation gave an address on return to his school in Surakarta in Central Java where he urged Australian Prime Minister John Howard to convert to Islam.

Speaking outside his school (considered by many to be a terrorism finishing school), before thousands of students and onlookers, Bashir said "If John Howard wants to be safe and avoid going to hell, I suggest he convert to Islam."

Mr Bashir also urged Mr Howard, the United States and other "infidels" not to fight the Muslim world. "Maybe with God's permission they can kill us, but they certainly can't beat Islam," said Mr Bashir.

The Islamic cleric denied having links to JI or any other terrorist organisation saying that Western media had been "twisting his beliefs". He dismissed claims by the US and Australia that he is the spiritual leader of JI.

Mr Bashir said that the Islamic militants involved in the 2002 Bali Bombing has taken the wrong path, but stopped short of condemning their actions. "Their wrong step was to use a bomb as a weapon in a safe area," he said.

"Bombs are only to be used in conflict areas."

"In safe areas just preach, and we don't need bombs like that."

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