Media mogul Rupert Murdoch has said all Muslims “must be held responsible” for their “growing jihadist cancer”, but a Queensland Muslim leader says his community is sick of apologising for other people’s crimes.

Murdoch made headlines over the weekend with a series of controversial tweets about the Charlie Hebdo terror attack in Paris in which 12 people were killed, including a Muslim police officer.

Comedian Aziz Ansari led the charge of Twitter users pointing out the hypocrisy of Murdoch’s stance, asking if the News Corp founder is “responsible for the evil s**t all Christians do” and launching the popular #RupertsFault hashtag.

When I read Murdoch’s tweets to Mohammed Yusuf, President of the Islamic Council of Queensland since 2009, he was shocked.

“I can’t believe anyone would make that comment, to be honest,” Mr Yusuf said. “It’s just a stupid comment… there are crimes taking place every day, but the other communities are never held accountable for the actions of all of their people. But if a Muslim commits a crime, no matter what crime it is, the entire Muslim community has to account for that? This is what I find very strange.”

Mr Yusuf refused an opportunity to formally condemn the Charlie Hebdo attack.

“We used to do that,” he explained. “Now we are taking the stance, look, you know, how long can we go around apologising for others? Enough is enough. We have now decided that it’s probably best for us to just keep quiet. We’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t, so it’s better that we don’t say anything and just keep quiet. We know what we are doing. The right-minded people know what we are doing. We don’t have to go out in public saying, you know, ‘this is sad’.

“Obviously we are hurt and obviously we are concerned for the people who are affected, but we are as helpless as anybody else. There’s nothing we can do. If the government, with all of the intelligence and the weapons they have at hand, cannot stop these attacks, how is a minority group like us, a group with nothing, expected to?”

This week’s edition of Charlie Hebdo, the first since the attack, will feature a cartoon depicting the prophet Muhammad holding a ‘Je suis Charlie’ (‘I am Charlie’) sign on its cover.

Mr Yusuf said that while he understands the concerns of Muslims who are angered by these sorts of images, they cannot take the law into their own hands.

“The general thing among Muslims is that we hold our prophets — and when I say ‘prophets’, I mean all the prophets, including Adam, Jesus, Moses, Abraham, everybody — in very high reverence. We do not, in any way, belittle them. This is why, when something like that happens, it hurts us. And there are some who will say there are limits to what freedom of speech can protect. When you start doing things to provoke people, when you start hurting the feelings of people, then someone, somewhere, has to be made accountable for that.

“But, having said that, no one can condone the criminal actions. There are ways in which you show your disapproval, ways in which you can protest, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to abide by the laws of the country you are in. That is paramount. That is one of the religious indentures; if you are living in a country, you have got to live by the laws of that country. Nobody can go and take the law into their own hands and seek justice that way.”

Mr Yusuf has been heartened by the success of recent open mosque days in Brisbane, and especially by the viral popularity of the #IllRideWithYou hashtag.

“["I'll ride with you"] was very positive, it was very good,” Mr Yusuf said. “You can look at it and say, yes, by doing that you are acknowledging that you are the ones at fault, and you need support from the people. But there are people who are, for one reason or another, looking at the Muslim community as the ones who are responsible, and we’ve got to work with them to show them what the truth is.

“Whichever way you look at it, it’s a no-win situation. You finish with one event, and something else happens in some other part of the world and you’re back to square one.”

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