The leader of a reclusive Muslim sect and one its members have been involved in a confrontation with council officers.
Dr Mustapha Kara-Ali and his brother Diaa Kara-Ali were scheduled to appear in the Land and Environment Court on Monday over a dispute with Hawkesbury City Council where they are accused of carrying out illegal land clearing and earthworks.
During the time of the hearing, however, the pair were filmed continuing construction work by building a shed on their property.
The leader of a reclusive Muslim sect and one its members have been involved in a confrontation with council officers as they skip court to build a shed on their property
Dr Mustapha Kara-Ali is the founder of the Diwan Al Dawla Muslim guild which has set up a religious retreat on the Colo River, north of Sydney. He does not recognise Australian law
They have allegedly cleared a large section of their Colo property, about an hour northwest of Sydney, and have also built gates, Dakwah fences, driveways, and what council describes as a boat ramp all without the relevant approvals.
Dashcam footage has also been captured of the moment Mustapha Kara-Ali and one of the sects followers confronts council officers at their front gate as they try to serve legal papers.
A man can be seen spitting and throwing a rock at the officers.
Dr Mustapha Kara-Ali believes symbols within the Australian flag and New South Wales coat of arms are an affront to his religion and anyone bearing them is a ‘Crusader’.
Dr Kari-Ali, who is in a legal dispute with Hawkesbury City Council over a religious retreat at Colo north of Sydney, also refuses to attend court because he does not recognise its authority.
‘It’s against our religion,’ the imam said of attempts to bring him before the Land and Environment Court. ‘It’s against our religion to be subject to any other religion.’
‘Because of the religious symbolism of the court, that contradicts with my religion. For my religion to be free I can’t be dictated to by another religion.’
Dr Mustapha Kara-Ali was scheduled to appear in the Land and Environment Court on Monday over a dispute with Hawkesbury City Council, accused of illegal construction work
Imam Mustapha Kara-Ali, pictured with one of the more than 30 Arabian horses on his Southern Chariot religious site at Colo, believes all government officials are ‘Crusaders’
Hawkesbury City Council says this structure is a boat ramp. The imam of the Diwan Al Dawla group says it is a walkway to the Colo River used for baptisms fashioned from an old spillway
Dr Kari-Ali is the founder of the religious guild Diwan Al Dawla which bought the Colo property for $670,000 in May last year and began building what it calls the Southern Chariot religious site.
The 12 hectares is home to about 30 Arabian horses which the group intends to use to help troubled Muslim youth, particularly from western Sydney, engage with God.
A shed and two demountable buildings have been erected on the site and a barn is being built. There is also a grove of young trees including olives, figs and walnuts.
An elaborate structure described by council as a ‘boat ramp’ is in fact a walkway for people to be baptised in the Colo River, according to Dr Kara-Ali.
‘It’s not a boat ramp because we have no boats,’ he said. ‘The purpose of it is religious. The purpose of the horses is religious. The purpose of everything you see here is religious.’
On the other side of the road the group is carving a 1km hippodrome out of a hillside to train horses.
Mustapha (right) and Diaa Kara-Ali (left) pictured when confronted by Hawkesbury City Council officers at the gates of their 12 hectare property in the Hawkesbury region last month
Hawkesbury City Council has launched civil action against Dr Kari-Ali alleging the men carried out illegal land clearing and earthworks on the site. Pictured is the frame of a horse barn
The Diwan Al Dawla guild is carving a hippodrome out of this hillside at Colo so it can train Arabian horses. The group did not seek development approval from council to construct it
The council has launched civil action against Dr Kari-Ali and his brother Diaa Kara-Ali alleging the men carried out illegal land clearing and earthworks and built gates, fences and driveways without approval.
The brothers agree they have not sought approval for the work and say they have no intention of doing so because they do not recognise Australian law.
Dr Kara-Ali considers any government symbol which incorporates a version of a Christian cross – including the Southern Cross and the Cross of St George – to be an affront to Islam.
He has cited a description of St George ‘appearing at the head of an army of the Seven Champions of Christendom – a celestial knight who won a great victory over a Moslem host.’
He believes any authority which uses such a symbol – such as the police and the courts – to be religious, rather than secular.
‘Any religious symbol, if they come to us by force it is a violation,’ he said. ‘It is a violation of our site.’
This shed on a concrete slab has been built without development approval by the Diwan Al Dawla guild at Colo, north of Sydney. The guild says it does not recognise Australian law
Two portable buildings have been erected on the Colo site but Dr Mustapha Kara-Ali says no one lives in them. They are used by workers on the property or sometimes for prayer
There are more than 30 Arabian horses on the Diwan Al Dawla religious site at Colo
He compared anyone who acted in government interests under a religious symbol to the Christian Crusaders who fought against Muslims in the medieval period.
‘Crusaders, absolutely, by virtue of their use of Crusader symbols,’ Dr Kara-Ali said.
‘My main issue is the interference between the secular and the religious. What we are saying in a nutshell is the country of Australia is entrenched in secular symbolism and religious symbolism that stretches back to the time of the Crusades.
‘This means that this government is not secular. It is religious because it carries these symbols.
‘And we refuse for pagan symbols such as crosses to be on top of our lives.
‘Remove these religious symbols and we can talk about secular government. But not now.
‘For us, this is religious freedom.’
Dr Kara-Ali said if government bodies tried to enforce their rules upon him he would resist. ‘I tell you what, people like us will say our God is supreme.’
The Kara-Ali brothers were due in court on Monday but did not attend. A hearing went ahead without them or a lawyer acting on their behalf.
Imam Mustapha Kara-Ali at the gates of the Southern Chariot religious site. Dr Kara-Ali says the Southern Cross is a corrupted Christian version of this celestial navigation diagram
The main entrance to the Southern Chariot religious site as seen from inside the retreat
The court heard the brothers had ignored repeated calls for them to stop developments on the site.