The mufti of Australia visited Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza last week, sparking harsh condemnations from the country's Jewish community.
Dr. Ibrahim "Abu Mohammed" Salem led a delegation of Australian sheikhs and scholars to Gaza, where he met with Haniyeh on December 26 and declared his desire to learn from Hamas leaders.
"We came here in order to learn from Gaza ... to learn steadfastness, sacrifice, and the defense of one's rights from them," Salem said, according to a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute.
"We feel like we are on cloud nine, we feel like we are on top of the world," he added.
The military wing of Hamas is listed as a proscribed terrorist organization by the Australian government.
Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs said authorities would investigate any allegations of unlawful behavior.
Peter Wertheim, the executive director of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, said, “There is nothing he can learn from Gaza and its Hamas rulers that can possibly have any legitimate application in Australia.”
“His visit and his comments undermine Australia’s efforts to build a peaceful, inclusive and democratic multicultural society,” Wertheimer added.
Salem’s visit was an independent initiative and not connected with the government, The Australian reported.