Sharia whipping: man jailed

LISA DAVIES
Last updated 16:35 14/06/2013
Jail
Ben Rushton
SHAME ON ISLAM: Wassim Fayad.

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A Sydney man who whipped a Muslim convert 40 times as punishment for drinking alcohol and taking drugs because of a "contorted" belief in sharia has been jailed for at least 16 months, with a magistrate saying he had "brought much shame upon the Islamic faith".

Wassim Fayad, 45, was one of four men sentenced at a Sydney court for their assault upon Cristian Martinez in July, 2011.

Martinez was whipped 40 times with an electric cord in his Silverwater home, while three other men held him down on his bed.

Fayad and three other men - Zakaryah Raad, Tolga Cifci and Cengiz Coskun - believed they were following sharia when they held Mr Martinez down and whipped him on the back in the middle of the night.

Magistrate Brian Maloney sentenced Fayad to a maximum two years' imprisonment for assault occasioning actual bodily harm, giving the less culpable trio suspended 18-month sentences, finding they were easily led by their older friend.

Turning to Fayed directly, Mr Maloney said: "Mr Fayad, by your actions you have brought much shame on the Islamic faith.

"You have proved yourself unscrupulously cunning, deceptive and dishonest. You profess to be a religious man; however, you resorted to violence upon Mr Martinez," he said.

In other observations about the case, Mr Maloney said it "was never about the Islamic faith or Islamic law, and my findings bear witness to the fact".

"It was simply one man who happened to be Muslim, assaulting another man, to effect a criminal purpose. To assist in that purpose [Fayad] recruited three young men who had been groomed and duped into believing he was righteous and learned in Islamic law."

Instead, he said Fayed had whipped Mr Martinez in order to get him to pay his debts.

Fayed shook his head and muttered as Mr Maloney handed down his sentence.

The three younger men were also sentenced to community service orders.

All four embraced in court afterwards.

The case is believed to be the first of its kind in Australia relating to such punishment being given out under the pretext of sharia, or Islamic law.

The court has previously heard Mr Martinez, 32, had asked Fayed, his religious mentor, for help in getting off drugs.

Fayed replied: "It means I'm going to tie you up brother, because that's what you need."

Fayed and the other offenders then went round to Mr Martinez's home and Fayed lashed him on the back as the others held him down.

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Mr Martinez cried and begged for the men to stop and he was in pain for about a week after the incident.

Lawyers for Mr Fayad lodged an immediate appeal, and were seeking bail pending the outcome of the appeal hearing on Friday afternoon.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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