Lawyer Atika Hussain, a member of Australia’s Afghan-Hazara community, said while the cancellation of the event was welcomed, she feared there would be retribution for the cancellation against Hazaras in Afghanistan.
The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (Afic) has cancelled its planned online forum that was due to include two senior Taliban representatives, after it faced heavy criticism from within the Muslim and Afghan communities.
In a statement released on Thursday morning, Afic said it decided to cancel the event “in response to community concerns”, with Afic president Dr Rateb Jneid saying the event was not intended to “legitimise any group”:
“This event was not convened to legitimise any group or to offend any group ... in view of developments, I have taken the executive decision to cancel the event.”
Afic chief executive Keysar Trad told ABC Radio on Thursday that the event was an opportunity to “obtain assurances about the rights of minorities and women, and to also dissuade and discourage any young people from going to that region.”
“They should be elevating and taking the lead from Afghanistan Australians, and asking them how they can help, rather than seeking to frame the narrative in a way that benefits them personally.”
“It’s just a slap in the face that instead of platforming and elevating the voices of the victims, they’ve thought to elevate the voices of the perpetrator.”