Sheikh shows Aussie spirit

Sheikh Taj El-Din Hamid Hilaly inspects the devastation at Postmans Ridge first-hand yesterday.
Sheikh Taj El-Din Hamid Hilaly inspects the devastation at Postmans Ridge first-hand yesterday. Nev Madsen

CONTROVERSIAL Muslim leader Sheikh Taj El-Din Hamid Hilaly has joined the recovery effort in the Lockyer Valley bringing a troupe of tradesmen to help rebuild the devastated area.

Sheikh Hilaly and a bus full of workers arrived at Helidon on Saturday and joined hundreds of other volunteers at Murphys Creek and Postmans Ridge yesterday.

He has come under fire in the past over comments made the Jewish community and also about the dress-standards of Australian women.

But the Sheikh and his troupe of workers were welcomed with open arms in the flood-ravaged valley yesterday.

Dressed in a t-shirt and cap bearing the Australian flag, Sheikh Hilaly led the group into devastated properties where they helped with the clean-up and removal of rubbish.

Sheikh Hilaly then toured the area in a helicopter for a better picture of the devastation.

He said he hoped to form a partnership with the State Government to develop a strategy for a major recovery effort.

“Under one sign (the Australian flag), we are one,” he said.

Carl Hammoud, owner of Helidon Spa Park, approached Sheikh Hilaly in Sydney and asked him to lend a hand.

Mr Hammoud said the idea quickly gained momentum down south with hundreds of volunteers signing up to travel to Queensland.

About 50 workers at a time will travel to the Lockyer Valley for about a week.

They will return home and will be replaced by another group.

“We’re trying to create a safety net for those people who might fall through the cracks of the insurance companies,” Mr Hammoud said.

Former Lockyer Valley councillor Campbell Macdonald said the group’s help was appreciated.

“We should be able to get these people back into their own homes a lot quicker with the help of the Sheikh and his men,” Mr Macdonald said.

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