Jury warned Muslim religion not on trial

Sydney, Australia - A judge has warned a jury the Muslim religion is not on trial as they hear the case against a Sydney man accused of producing a Jihad instruction book.

Justice Megan Latham told the NSW Supreme Court jurors they should not jump to the conclusion Belal Saadallah Khazaal was guilty on the basis of his clothing, language or religion.

"The Muslim religion is not on trial here, ladies and gentlemen," she said on Monday, directing them to keep an open mind and to consider all the evidence.

Khazaal has pleaded not guilty to knowingly making a document connected with assistance in a terrorist act and to attempting to incite the commission of a terrorist act.

The first offence allegedly occurred between September 20 and September 23, 2003, and the second between September 22 and October 8, 2003, in Sydney and "elsewhere in the world".

The document Khazaal allegedly made was a book titled "Provisions on the Rules of Jihad - Short Judicial rulings and organisational instructions for fighters and Mujahideen against infidels".

The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) claims Khazaal caused the document to be posted on a website.

The DPP also claims the terrorist act he allegedly tried to incite was "an action or threat of action against anyone or more of a number of persons identified in the document including diplomats, military personnel and holders of public office".

The indictment further claims that if the action was carried out, it would cause death or physical harm or property damage.

Justice Latham addressed the jury of seven men and five women after it was empanelled on Monday, and then adjourned the trial for the DPP's opening address on Wednesday.

She told jurors to maintain an open mind and not regard Khazaal in an adverse manner due to the nature of charges.

Justice Latham said we were fortunate to live in a tolerant, open-minded state where people's religion and views were tolerated.

She said the jurors would hear evidence in a closed court relating to ASIO matters.

Justice Latham warned it was a criminal offence for anyone to disclose the identity of an existing or past ASIO employee.

If, after the trial, they were standing in the supermarket next to a person connected to the trial in that capacity, they should not disclose that information to anyone, she said.