AFL figureheads have reportedly stepped in to convince former Richmond great Bachar Houli to remove a pro-Palestine video he posted on his social media accounts.
According to a report by the Herald Sun, Houli, who played in all three of the Tigers’ 2017, 2019 and 2020 premierships and twice finished runner-up to Dustin Martin in Norm Smith Medal voting, was contacted by league commissioner Paul Bassat and former diversity manager Ali Fahour amid fears the post would lead to public unrest.
It was reported Houli had previously refused a request from the Tigers themselves to take down the video, a repost from rugby union legend Sonny Bill Williams entitled ‘A genocide is occurring in Palestine’.
After deleting the video on Sunday, Houli posted to Instagram with a statement, saying he will ‘always advocate for inclusion and bringing people together’.
“As many would know I am a man of faith and peace, and have always tried to live my life through the Islamic values of Respect, Peace and Love which has been taught through our beloved prophet Muhammad (PBUH),” it reads.
“I will always advocate for inclusion and bringing people together. The last couple of weeks have taken a heavy toll on us all and I want to remind people that I do NOT condone killings of ANY INNOCENT people regardless of their faith or culture.
“I remind my fellow Australians that any racism, discrimination or acts of violence to innocent people is totally unacceptable.
“I have many friends from different faiths who are against this war and I stand in solidarity with them and pray for peace and justice for all those oppressed around the world. I pray for peace, love and humanity. Ameen.”
Houli, who became just the third Muslim to play at the highest level when 2007, featured in 206 games for the Tigers after being traded from Essendon at the end of 2010, becoming one of the club’s most beloved players before hanging up the boots in 2021.
Along with his three premiership medals, he also won All-Australian selection in 2019 and the Jim Stynes Community Leadership Award for his work with the Muslim community.
Away from the field, he founded the Bachar Houli Foundation, a nonprofit aiming to create a pathway for talented young Muslim players to reach the AFL without jeopardising their commitment to their faith.