The following is a letter we received from Timothy Howard, an acquaintance of the extremist Zulfikar Shariff, from La Trobe University.
As an acquaintance of Zulfikar Mohamad Shariff in La Trobe University, I was not surprised to learn of his arrest when I awoke this morning (tough laws in Singapore). From the few times we interacted, Zulfikar came across as a man who was eloquent but conflicted and blind to the goodness before him, sometimes I also found his views hypocritical.
Although Zul tried to portray himself as a man learned in Islamic traditions, fighting for syariah law, he was unable to grasp how Islam should be adapted to the modern context or the country he lived in. Yes, he was great at lifting entire quotes from the Koran but his theories often did not reconcile with the realities of the world we live in.
I found it especially amusing that he doesn’t realise the irony of his calls for the setting up of an Islamic Khilafah. He advocates for the rejection of constitutional democracy but yet enjoys a peaceful, fulfilling life in democratic countries like Australia and Singapore.
Zul’s hypocrisy is even more pronounced when you realise that as a full time student here in Australia, he doesn’t earn a full salary and gets only a modest stipend. Due to this lack of income, his family members are on welfare provided generously by us, the Australian people.
Instead of being thankful for the opportunities provided by Australia, he rebels against democracy, advocates for syariah law and wilfully spends his free time promoting radical ISIS ideology online?
If Zulfikar is so displeased with our Western systems of governance, he is free to pack up and go to a country who’s system appeals to his Islamic sensibilities. When Zulfikar left Singapore and came to study here in Australia, why didn’t he choose Malaysia or Indonesia? They are afterall two of the most populous Muslim nations in South East Asia and would be a much better fit for his aspirations.
Having allowed the news to sink in, thinking back now, Zulfikar Shariff is without any doubt a two-faced hypocrite who wished to enjoy all the benefits of our free democracy but yet abused our hospitality to soothe his own warped religious ideology.
Finally, to Zul, I wish you the best of luck and hope you come out of this episode a much wiser and grateful person. Maybe next time, we can reconnect under better circumstances.