CAIRO - Australia's Defence Department has charged and reprimanded two serving soldiers involved in making violent and racist comments in the wake of last month's Muslim protests in Sydney against the US-made film.
Targeting of any person on the basis of their gender, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation is repugnant and contrary to Defence's values as well as those held by the wider community, Defence said in a statement cited by The Sydney Morning Herald on Monday, October 29.
The overwhelming majority of Defence personnel are professional and hard-working people who act in accordance with the values and standards.
The issue came to light after media reported a group of Australian soldiers made threatening comments against the Muslim community on Facebook.
The soldiers from the Townsville based 3rd Brigade joked about using sniper rifles and machine guns on Muslims.
The remarks were made in the days after the Sydney protest sparked by an anti-Islamic film insulting Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him).
Give me a M4 and send me to Sydney and I'll do the dishes, one soldier wrote.
And, Mate, what I would given to drop the legs on a MAG 58 (machine gun), slap on a 500 round belt, adopt a stable firing position in the middle of the street and lay waste to every single one of those cancerous f---s.
Cronulla round two, another soldier wrote.
Army chief Lieutenant General David Morrison vowed to take strong action against the offenders.
If it is found that there have been a soldier or soldiers involved, then I will take action as I can within the laws of the land and those that guide us in the Defence Force, he said.
However, only two of the soldiers received a formal reprimand under the Defence Force Discipline Act.
Thirteen other soldiers were counseled and disciplinary action is pending against one other soldier.
Australian Muslim community welcomed the action.
I think it sends out a strong message that we need to stamp out this type of mentality in the Defence Force or elsewhere in society, Ahmed Kilani, who runs the Muslim Village website told ABC News
Ahmed added that he was satisfied with the outcome.
Khaled Sukkarrieh from the New South Wales Islamic Council also welcomed the Defence decision, hoping other soldiers take note.
Islam is Australia's second largest religion after Christianity.
Muslims, who have been in Australia for more than 200 years, make up 1.7 percent of its 20-million population.