In recent times we’ve heard a lot about Clive Palmer, ISIS and bikies.
And in all these separate stories, one rather intriguing name pops up everywhere: Zali Burrows.
So who is she?
I did a little research and this is what I found.
First up, Zali Burrows, was a candidate for the Palmer United Party at the 2014 Federal Election, contesting the Sydney seat of Blaxland. And Ms Burrows is still up on the PUP website today.
When Zali was announced as a candidate by Clive Palmer on 12 June, 2013, this is what he had to say:
“We are delighted to be endorsing such outstanding candidates with a wide range of experience to stand as the Palmer United Party candidates.”
Zali responded by stating:
“If elected to federal parliament for the Palmer United Party I will be an advocate for the humane treatment of refugees as I believe Australia is a country that should welcome all who will help our economy prosper.”
And then Zali set to work, putting out this election leaflet.
You might notice a few things about this bright yellow Palmer United Party election advertisement.
First up, in big, bold red writing it says, “Why you should vote for Zali Burrows”.
And underneath there is some Arabic text. But it doesn’t say that at all. It says, “Your voice of peace and Islam, health and family.”
Zali Burrows is a Muslim and she say as much at the end of her flyer as well.
“I will bring change, understanding and finally be the first Muslim voice in Government to stop the perceived discrimination against Muslims that promotes hostility.”
I’m not sure how Ed Husic feels about this, considering he actually was the first Muslim in government. But that’s another story I’m sure the Labor Party would love to tell.
Considering that Zali Burrows is a Muslim and says so, it’s not surprising that her election promises included establishing a public holiday for the day that marks the end of the Islamic month of holy jihad: Ramadan.
But back on topic. Zali’s flyer also makes it known that she is a lawyer. And what a lawyer she is.
Uthman Badar, the lovable character from Hizb ut Tahrir, has mentioned her on his Facebook page. And considering that ‘Uthman Badar’ and ‘honour killings’ often go in the same sentence, it’s no surprise to find out that Zali Burrows’ clients are the more unsavoury headlines in Australian news on Islam.
- Hamdi Alqudsi. Mr Alqudsi was arrested in late 2013 and became the first Australian to be charged under the Foreign Incursion Act for allegedly helping jihadis travel to Syria. Ms Burrows was there to defend him, stating that he could not afford bail because he survived only on his modest disability pension.
However, in Bankstown Local Court on Tuesday, his lawyer Zali Burrows said he could only come up with $500 surety to secure his bail because he lived on a modest disability pension.
Sydney Morning Herald, 4 December 2013
- Sulyman Khalid. Mr Khalid had his passport seized by ASIO in December 2013. Today Tonight was going to run a story on this man, but Zali Burrows succeeded in gaining an injunction to prevent it from airing.
Ms Burrows said she was given the impression the story would depict the unfairness of the process that led to the cancellation of Mr Khalid’s passport. But after the interview was filmed, she came to believe Channel Seven would use the material to portray him as either an extremist or duped by extremists.
Sydney Morning Herald, 23 January 2014
- Wisam Haddad. Mr Haddad managed the Al Risalah Islamic Bookstore, which various reports indicate was being used to preach violence, terrorism and jihad in Syria and Iraq. Supporters of this peaceful shop admitted to being involved in the Sydney riots. And New South Wales police confirmed it was aware of activities at Al Risalah. When Al Risalah shut down, Ms Burrows was there to launch a defamation case, blaming the media for promoting religious intolerance by its coverage of the Sydney riots.
Lawyer Zali Burrows, acting on behalf of the manager of the bookstore, Wisam Haddad, and three others, has filed a defamation action against Nationwide News, the publisher of The Daily Telegraph, over its coverage of the Muslim riots in the city last year.
”Sex used to sell; these days it’s Muslims and terrorists,” she said. ”My clients are taking a stand against irresponsible media that promote religious intolerance and discrimination that often leaves a carnage of reputations in its wake.”
Sydney Morning Herald, 29 October 2013
- Fatima. Fatima was arrested on terrorism charges while attempting to leave the country a few weeks ago. The New South Wales Joint Counterterrorism Team alleges that Fatima was planning to assist her husband, who is believed to be fighting with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
Ms Burrows said the cash her client was carrying was for hotel accommodation and return flights home and the camouflage gear was a pair of cargo print pants she had bought for her husband.
Brisbanetimes.com.au, 21 May 2014
But distressed Muslims aren’t the only people talking about Ms Burrows. So is the Queensland Premier, Campbell Newman.
He mentioned Zali Burrows because she called for Mr Newman’s arrest while representing Peter Mauric and Stephen Cox. They just happen to be Bandidos members charged after a violent Gold Coast brawl in September 2013.
Now while I’m pretty sure Mr Newman is not a Muslim, it is possible that Mauric and Cox are. There are strong Islamic links to the Bandidos.
The Courier Mail reported in October 2013 that “Gold Coast bikie gangs are actively targeting young Muslim and Eastern European men” to “beef up their ranks with aggressive ethnic recruits”.
And previously the The Courier Mail has reported that police “discovered pictures of Osama bin Laden at a Gold Coast home linked to a worrying new bikie gang called Soldiers of Islam, whose members include former Iraqi soldiers.”
It just so happens that the Soldiers of Islam are also reported to be associated with the Bandidos and act as a feeder club to the outlaw motorcycle gang. And Bandidos members in Sydney have also been arrested by the Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad.
Of course, while Ms Burrows’ clients seem to have consistent links to Islam, her own messages about the treatment of the Islamic community are anything but consistent.
In December 2013, Zali complained that ASIO’s decision to cancel passports of the 15 men she represented was unfair. ASIO seemed to think that they these blokes might be interested in getting up to no good in Syria with ISIS. However, MS Burrows informed the ABC that she was not aware of any such intention and that she was prepared to go to the High Court to get their passports back.
And in the last few days, this lawyer has been in the media again to go on about Islamic men and passports. This time she was complaining that ASIO didn’t do enough to stop a teenager from leaving Sydney and travelling to fight with ISIS.
Talk about trying to have your cake and eat it too.
If ASIO acts, Zali Burrows is there to assist the ‘oppressed’ Muslim minority being ‘unfairly’ targeted. But if a jihadi falls through the cracks, then Zali Burrows is first on the scene to take a swing at our nation’s domestic intelligence service.
I think all she’s done is highlight that it is impossible to track all the jihadis and we can only be thankful that this one went to Iraq and not to the local shopping centre.
Despite this, Zali does have a silver lining.
In all the furore about Uthman Badar’s speech on honour killing, Ms Burrows was one of the few Muslim voices to pipe up with consternation. However, it was not a concern that would be shared by the average Aussie. Zali’s complaint was simply that Mr Badar’s remarks were only hurting her legal efforts to have passports returned to her clients.
And then she went on to say that any attempt to ban Hiz ut Tahrir would be dangerous. As the echoes of the headline, “Honour killings are morally justified”, were reverberating around Australia, Ms Burrows asked, “What threat has Hizb ut Tahrir actually made?”
So keep your eye out for the name Zali Burrows. Next time you find it in a newspaper, it is highly likely that it will be in an article about violent Islamic jihadis operating in Australia.