Australia: Controversial cleric to be replaced

Australia's top Islamic cleric, who triggered a furor last year when he referred to women without head scarves as "uncovered meat," will be replaced, but not for three more months, religious leaders have decided. On Friday, Prime Minister John Howard criticized the decision to let Sheik Taj Aldin al-Hilali stay on as mufti of Australia any longer, saying Muslim leaders were out of touch with the wishes of most Australians. About 60 members of the Australian National Imams Council met on Sunday to decide the fate of al-Hilali, who triggered outrage among many Australians with a series of speeches and media appearances in Australia and the Middle East. He made his most controversial remarks in a sermon last September, when he blamed women for tempting men to rape them, saying, "If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside ... and the cats come to eat it ... whose fault is it?"